Mania Grade: C-
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- Reviewed Format: Theatrical Release
- Rated: PG-13
- Stars: Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, Hiroyuki Sanada, Youki Kudoh, Max Von Sydow, Yves Attal, Noemie Lenoir, Jingchu Zhang
- Writer: Jeff Nathanson, based on characters created by Ross LaManna
- Director: Brett Ratner
- Distributor: New Line Cinema
RUSH HOUR 3
Third time is not the charm with this sequel ...
By Rachel Reitsleff
August 10, 2007
Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan in RUSH HOUR 3 (2007).
© New Line Cinema
Anything is possible. Director Brett Ratner and writer Jeff Nathanson (working from characters created by Ross LaManna) may both have cared passionately about this third film in the Rush Hour series; one would certainly hope so in Ratner’s case, as he’s been on board for all installments. However, in scene after scene here, it looks as though a lot of creative decisions were made on the basis on the assumption that the audience won’t care about any number of details, which in turn suggests that the filmmakers didn’t much care either.
For those who need a refresher, Jackie Chan plays Detective Lee of the Hong Kong police and Chris Tucker plays Detective Carter of the LAPD (on punishment duty with the traffic department as RUSH HOUR 3 opens). Lee is by-the-book, honor-bound and has great martial arts prowess; Carter is a sometimes inept maverick, guided by lust, anger and pride as often (if not more) than his better policing instincts, yet he comes through in the crunch. Carter and Lee team up once again when an assassination attempt against the politician Lee is guarding points to members of Chinese Triad gangs, who seem to be keeping a key secret in Paris.
Why are Chinese gangs hanging out in France? Apparently because the filmmakers wanted to shoot there. Why is the Triad headed up by a Japanese gangster called Kenji? There’s an elaborate plot explanation, but the simpler answer seems to be that the filmmakers wanted to work with actor Hiroyuki Sanada. Why does Lee enter a dangerous situation singing in a vulnerable position when he could have more easily and more in character come in surreptitiously? Evidently the filmmakers thought it would be funny and wanted to give Chan a chance to show off his singing voice.
Now, all of these are understandable sentiments – Paris looks beautiful here, Sanada is a fine actor and it’s fun to hear Chan sing – but the cumulative effect of these and other odd choices is to make RUSH HOUR 3 feel as though it’s been thrown together, with just enough narrative glue to hang together all the pieces the filmmakers think might be funny. However, even buddy action comedies need some context, or the character material rings false. Carter is presented as such a caricature here that we can’t believe in him long enough to be very concerned about his bond with Lee, though Chan does have some enjoyable moments of comic action.
There are bigger problems as well – in the finale, one major character is either lost altogether or handled so peremptorily that there’s no sense of closure. We can spot the big bad from a long way off and the maguffin the guys are chasing is not only very complicated but makes very little sense.
There are some pleasures to be had here. Chan fans will be rewarded with some trademark slapstick, Paris looks ravishing, there are some inventive stunts and Yves Attal as a Parisian cabbie has some scenes of unexpectedly potent humor (for those who wonder about such things, that’s why the film merits a C- instead of something lower). Still, RUSH HOUR 3 as a movie experience is more gridlock than easy ride.