Genre: Action Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 31 min.
Release Date: August 10th, 2007 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Brett Ratner Actors: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Max von Sydow, Hiroyuki Sanada, Yvan Attal, Yuki Kudo, Noemie Lenoir, Zhang Jingchu, Mia Tyler
emarkably redundant and yet still highly entertaining, Brett Ratner’s “Rush Hour 3” brings back the exhilaratingly hilarious duo of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, six years after the previous entry. The villains may be clichéd and ill-contrived, while the story is a mess of unnecessary subplots and meaningless backstories, but, clearly, comedy is key. From the first moments of the film to the predictable last, Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker demand attention with their lighthearted hijinks and comedic chemistry, which never stop amusing and amazing.
Chief Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) and LAPD Detective Carter (Chris Tucker) are back in the U.S. to avenge Ambassador Han (Tzi Ma), who is nearly assassinated when he attempts to disclose information about an ultra secretive crime syndicate, the Triads. Their investigation brings them to Paris, where mysterious nightclub dancer Genevieve (Noemie Lenoir) may be the only clue to uncovering the murder plot and the marks against their own lives. Lee must also reconcile with his longtime friend Kenji (Hiroyuki Sanada), who may be on the wrong side of the law and at the heart of the conspiracy.
“Rush Hour 3” wastes no time leaping straight into action and comedy, which perfectly recreates the tone and mood of the first two films. Despite the fact that the story takes a backseat to the action, and the general (or signature) events that occur are overly repetitious amidst the series, it doesn’t attempt to camouflage itself as anything more than what meets the eye. Perhaps most disappointing of all is the conventionality of the antagonists and the nearly identical counterpart demises and plot twists from before, as if the filmmakers’ efforts to remain faithful to the franchise required duplicating storyline editing and structuring.
All the principle players return, including a few surprises, such as references to Isabella from “Rush Hour 2,” a grown-up Soo Yung (now played by Zhang Jingchu), and even minor supporting characters like the police chief. But the spotlight still unquestionably belongs to Tucker and Chan. While Chan is famous for his extraordinary martial arts skills and the fact that he does all of his own stunts, his age is beginning to interfere with the vigor and intensity of the stunts he’s willing to attempt. Less spectacular fight sequences are replaced by humorous events choreographed into action – even green-screen work that demonstrates risibly illogical arrangements make a discouraging appearance. Chan, at least, knows how to be creative with his fighting, and in his familiar fashion, makes use of tables, chairs, and random props to engage in comical battle. But the most impressive stunts are those of the villains who pursue the duo across the streets of Paris in riveting van and motorcycle chases. It’s refreshing to see violence portrayed in such a facetious manner and yet still be equally diverting and precarious. Tucker continues to use his fast-talking mouth instead of his brawn, and although the first two films created a mild distaste for his brand of obnoxiousness, here it is channeled directly toward villains – so the audience can wholeheartedly side with his boisterous blathering.
The “Rush Hour” outings have always been a collection of action and comedy sequences loosely strung together by plot. It’s as if the gags are derived first; the story often feels trite and unoriginal and “Rush Hour 3” is no exception. But the chemistry between Tucker and Chan reaches a new high, while the fantastic setting of the “City of Light” allows for a new slew of racial jokes and political incorrectness. A “Who’s on first?” routine (obviously inspired by Abbott and Costello), a prim nun translating foul language, and George the anti-American French taxi driver are examples of witty additions to the regularly mischievous comedy showcased in the series. But the inclusion of a supermodel (here, Noemie Lenoir) is terribly expected, and screen legend Max von Sydow can’t seem to summon life into his generic role.
A showdown on the Eiffel Tower and the end-credits outtakes are other strong points, but Kenji’s forced villainy and pathetic character development will remind viewers that “Rush Hour 3” is a simple venture with unambitious goals, produced primarily for box office receipts. Though nothing is terribly memorable or awe-inspiring, constant bits of crudeness and slapstick humor make the occasion worthwhile, especially for fans of the prior installments. But after seeing all three “Rush Hour” features, it’s likely that audiences won’t be able to remember which one had which particular event or role – they all sort of blend together.
– Mike Massie