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In Brief:
"A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries" and "Rush Hour"

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I would pan the new Merchant-Ivory production, A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries, if only there were something on the screen to pan, but the movie, like Jell-O on a child's spoon, keeps slipping out of view. The daughter in question, Channe (Leelee Sobieski), grows up in Paris in the sixties, the offspring of a James Jones-like expatriate writer (the movie is based on a novel by Jones's daughter, Kaylie). Channe endures no more than the routine trials of a teenager's life and is indeed very well loved by her handsome, sexy, all-wise dad (Kris Kristofferson), her smothering, slightly competitive bohemian mom (Barbara Hershey), her resentful adopted brother (Jesse Bradford), her hothouse-flower gay teen friend (Anthony Roth Costanzo), and even the family maid. They all love Channe, as indeed they should, but where's the movie? This is a wan, shapeless, and amazingly conventional piece of work . . . In Rush Hour, two kinds of comic virtuosos link up: The eye-popping African-American clown Chris Tucker, whose specialty is motormouthed, high-pitched insult and indignation, and Hong Kong's own Jackie Chan, the stolidly handsome star of dozens of nonsensical martial-arts movies, a man who achieves with his spinning body what Tucker does with words. The movie is no more than a well-produced confection designed for quick payoff in the big cities, but it's pretty consistently funny. Chan is a cop from Hong Kong, Tucker a popinjay on the LAPD. Each man has his own tricky, stylized movement, and each teaches the other how to move his way. The best bit: Chan fighting off assailants while catching a huge, priceless Ming vase that keeps tipping over.


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