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Should I Watch..? Rush Hour 3
What's the big deal?
Rush Hour 3 is an action comedy film released in 2007 and is the third entry in the Rush Hour franchise. Reuniting stars Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan with director Brett Ratner, the film sees the two detectives head to Paris in pursuit of a suspected assassin. Unlike the first two films, this movie was critically snubbed when it was released with most critics citing the film's reliance on formula, lack of imagination and uncomfortably racist elements that were not present in the series before now. Nevertheless, the film still went on to earn over $258 million worldwide - only just above what the first film made. Whether this lack of success or the high cost of producing another film is a factor in a potential fourth entry being made, only the producers themselves know.
What's it about?
During a speech on international Triad gangs, Ambassador Solon Han is about to reveal the whereabouts of a semi-mystical figure in Triad circles known as Shy Shen when he is struck by an assassin's bullet. Inspector Lee, acting as Han's bodyguard, pursues the shooter but discovers that he is Kenji, Lee's Japanese foster brother. Kenji escapes just as LAPD detective James Carter arrives on the scene. Han's daughter Soo-Yung escorts Han to hospital where more assassins arrive to finish the job. With Lee and Carter's help, they discover that the assassins are French.
Leaving Soo-Yung in protective custody at the French Embassy under the care of Ambassador Reynard, Lee and Carter head to Paris and begin searching for links to the Triads there. It soon transpires that Shy Shen is also in the city and is being pursued by evil forces. It falls to Carter, Lee and an unwitting French taxi-driver called George to locate Shy Shen before the Triads do but in this strange and unfamiliar city, who can they really trust?
Detective James Carter
Max Von Sydow
Jeff Nathanson *
Release Date (UK)
10th August, 2007
Action, Comedy, Thriller
What's to like?
If you enjoyed Rush Hour (1) and Rush Hour 2 (2) then it won't come as a complete shock to you that Rush Hour 3 offers more of the same. So that's more of Jackie Chan's improbably agile martial-arts and stunt-work and more of Chris Tucker shooting his mouth off like a machine-gun with Tourette's Syndrome. The chemistry between the two is as good as it ever was and both men give it their all, even if Chan's age is showing signs of catching up with him.
Frankly, this is business as usual despite the change of scenery and the ever-expanding cast list. Viewers of these type of films are after something short, sharp and entertaining without necessarily getting bogged down with story or characterisation. Tucker, Chan and director Ratner know exactly what fans of the previous films want and are only to happy to provide. Throw in some decent turns from former model Lenoir and a humorous cameo from Roman Polanski as a French policeman overly fond of body cavity searches (a little awkward casting, if you ask me) and the ingredients are all there for another slap-dash slice of chop-socky action.
- With his habit of performing his own stunts, Chan still managed to acquire some injuries on set including bruises to his shins and a cracked sternum. Like most of Chan's movies, outtakes are included over the end credits - a habit he picked up after appearing in The Cannonball Run (3) in 1981.
- Polanski was a fan of the first two movies and asked the producers if he could appear in the third instalment, which he did. He remains uncredited (in the US version) due to his long-running battle with the American authorities.
- When Carter is watching TV in the Parisian bar, look closely at what he's watching - it's Shanghai Noon (4), another film starring Jackie Chan.
What's not to like?
I know very few people, however, who insist on eating the same stuff over and over again - eventually, you get sick of it. The fact that the formula has barely changed since the first film almost a decade earlier means that Rush Hour 3 feels far too similar to the others to really stand out on its own, let alone the dozens of other buddy-cop films released since. If you're new to the series then this is a perfectly enjoyable action comedy but even long-term fans will find their resolve tested.
There are other issues as well like the story not making much in the way of sense and Tucker's increasingly annoying character shouting at everybody. The screenplay offers little in the way of genuine humour - the once-funny interplay between Tucker and Chan has now been replaced by over-reacting to things and reinforcing negative American stereotypes, mainly thanks to the bizarre taxi-driver George. The other thing the screenplay lacks is any sort of shock - the principal baddie is easily identifiable (more so than they were in the first film) and the movie provides little to get excited about besides a cleverly constructed finale at the Eiffel Tower. By the time the pair of them strutted into the night to Edwin Starr's "War", I had already had enough.
Should I watch it?
Rush Hour 3 offers little difference to the earlier entries but lacks some of the charm and humour that made the first two so watchable. Reheated left-overs aren't great at the best of times and by now, this particular dish has grown stale. Chan and Tucker try hard but there is no getting away from the fact that this feels tired, uninspired and unrequired. It's OK if you ignore the glaring plot holes and just enjoy the spectacle but this film is the definite low point of the series so far.
Great For: anyone who hasn't seen the first two films, Chan & Tucker's bank accounts, anti-American sentiment
Not So Great For: originality, action cinema in general, Parisian tourists
What else should I watch?
With each new movie, the Rush Hour series seems to be getting progressively worse. Therefore, viewers unfamiliar with the exploits of Chan and Tucker should stick with the first Rush Hour (1) which is funnier, faster and much more enjoyable. Tucker is far less irritating than he is here while Chan excels at both the action and the physical comedy, leaping and contorting his way around the picture like an Asian Buster Keaton.
Buddy-cop films continue to spew forth from Hollywood like water from a burst dam. Recent efforts include The Heat (5) with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy and revival efforts like Starsky & Hutch (6) and the forthcoming CHiPS (7). Few, however, can touch the highlights of the sub-genre from the Eighties - the usual suspects like Beverly Hills Cop (8) and Lethal Weapon (9).