RUSH HOUR 3
Director: Brett Ratner
Cast: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Hiroyuki Sanada, Noémie Lenoir, Max von Sydow, Yvan Attal, Jingchu Zhang, Tzi Ma, Roman Polanski
MPAA Rating: (for sequences of action violence, sexual content, nudity and language)
Running Time: 1:30
Release Date: 8/10/07
Review by Mark Dujsik
I really hope the Rush Hour series is a true trilogy. Rush Hour 3 is more of the same, but not in that positive kind of way the Jason Bourne series allegedly ended last week. No, this is just more redundant, cookie-cutter formula. Apart from the fact we've seen this exact material done twice before, we've seen this general material done to death. Clashing types who are also buddies running off to a foreign locale to be fishes-out-of-water and fight some big threat to their own safety, the safety of those they care for, and/or the safety of society at large while cracking jokes as bullets and punches fly. It's as exhausting as that sentence, really, sitting down, waiting for a few of the obvious jokes to hit some small part of the funny bone and the action sequences to kick in and at least make us forget it's all been done before. Successful formula flicks achieve those feelings more often than not; the really good ones achieve it with such briskness there's little time to remember there's a formula at work. Rush Hour 3 is neither successful nor good, but it is better than the first sequel by a slight margin.
When we see Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker) again, he is on traffic duty, singing and dancing with his earbuds in. Guess what's going to happen, and then wonder why he's not suspended later on because of it. Chief Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan), meanwhile, is escorting his old friend and ambassador Han (Tzi Ma) to the World Criminal Court summit in Los Angeles, where Han intends to reveal the head of the infamous China Triad. Guess what's going to happen, and then wonder how an attempted assassin manages to escape by running down the busy streets of L.A. Apparently any security personnel for this major international event were on a unified coffee break. Lee chases the perpetrator Kenji (Hiroyuki Sanada) to an alley, where Lee delays shooting him, giving Kenji time to escape when Carter busts in. Han is in the hospital; his daughter Soo Yung (Jingchu Zhang) wants Lee and Carter to track down those responsible, the men who will not stop until her father is dead. After some investigating at a martial arts facility in Chinatown, the pair discovers that their next step to finding the identity of the head of the Triad is to go to Paris.
And go they do. Jeff Nathanson's script is full of contrivances, as though I need to reiterate that fact after the plot synopsis. They are the usual breed: a woman who starts a potential aid and ends up a villain, a comic sidekick who magically appears whenever he's needed, a crooked man of power, and everything coming together for a climactic fight on top of—what else—the Eiffel Tower. The man of power is played by Max von Sydow, which means we know he's crooked right away. Hollywood doesn't hire people of such esteem in such small roles unless they're going to end up bad. A similar person of note is Roman Polanski, who appears as a French detective who welcomes the boys with beatings with a phone book and the necessary but still unfunny cavity search. The sidekick is a cabbie named George (Yvan Attal), who refuses to drive an American because Americans are loud, violent, and start fights for no reason. That's when Carter yells at him, holds a gun to his head, and forces him to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner." Oh, that's good irony. Chris Tucker, who began to become really grating in the last movie, is much more tolerable here; on occasion, he's actually funny.
In general, the comedy here works better than it did last time around. The movie isn't consistently funny, but it gets a few good jokes in. "I speak six languages," a mysterious woman named Genevieve (Noémie Lenoir), who becomes vital later on, tells Carter; his response: "Is one of them English?" Lee and Carter have a conflict of interest and are separated. To fill the void, Carter goes to a Chinese restaurant, and Lee orders fried chicken and sweet potato pie. Carter uses a nun to translate a French-speaking goon's foul-mouthed resistance. There's even a variation of the "Who's on First" bit using Chinese names. Obvious? Yes. Funny? Enough. The balance of action and comedy was weighed more in the action arena for the last movie, and this time, it takes a back seat. It still works when it's there, albeit not as well as one would hope. There's a shootout in the hospital before the guys go to Paris that isn't original in any shape or form, but it gets the job done with enough style. Jackie Chan's stunt work has been heavily reduced, but there's efficiency to the work when it's present, like during a fight that Carter mistakes for rough sex and during the climax.
Rush Hour 3 is pretty painless, apart from some of the really obvious script devices (George, being the foremost), but it is still completely unnecessary. Chan and Tucker and director Brett Ratner had an overextended run with this material, and it's really shown in this installment. May it be the last.
Copyright © 2007 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.