Rush Hour was pretty good, and made Jackie Chan a household name in the United States. While lacking a lot of the stunts of his earlier films, his pairing with annoying Chris Tucker was a surprisingly good comedic match, and the movie made bank as a result. A few years later, Rush Hour 2 turned out to be even better, and the movie made a killing. But if you wait long enough - like director Brett Ratner did for Rush Hour 3 - the shine eventually comes off.
Rush Hour 3 brings Tucker out of retirement - he hadn't done another movie since 2001's Rush Hour 2 - and reveals that Detective Carter is now a dancing traffic cop in LA. When the Chinese ambassador is nearly assassinated nearby, however, he finds himself once again paired up with close friend Inspector Lee (Chan), and the two end up in Paris. With the local police not too happy about foreign cops running around their country, and the Triads facing a major disaster if Carter and Lee succeed, the two find it quite difficult to avoid trouble. Throw in a few attractive but extremely dangerous women, and you have your plot for Rush Hour 3, which, in reality, is pretty much the same plot we've seen in the other movies.
This action comedy is not by any means a disaster, but whereas the first two seemed to have some legitimate action, comedy and excitement, Rush Hour 3 seems a little more forced, a little more uneven and a little more focused on making money. Thankfully, Tucker's character is toned down a bit - while he still plays the loud-mouthed coward, he tends to still go along with his buddy's dangerous plans rather than just complain and do something stupid. At the same time, it feels as though the chemistry between the two leads is different this time around. Inspector Lee isn't as uptight as he used to be and seems to have given into Carter's absurdness, whereas Carter has also compromised for Lee. This is more believable and refreshing, except that it isn't entertaining. Since the movie lacks the hardcore action that Chan's earlier, Chinese-made films have, Rush Hour 3 needs comedy to balance things out, and other than a few gentle chuckles, there isn't anything explosive here.
While I pan the action a bit, Rush Hour 3 has some decent stunts, at least for Chan's American-made films. Still, everything seems slower, less daunting or unoriginal; once again, the ending involves the characters somehow managing to survive after falling from great heights - this time from the Eiffel Tower. Every Rush Hour movie seems to end this way (or maybe I'm just thinking of the first one), and I really don't get what the appeal is. And you know Chan isn't doing any of these stunts himself or without some major wire support, and that takes all the fun out of it.
The acting is also pretty bad. Chan doesn't seem to be trying as hard in this one as he has in past films; I guess he figured he should collect his paycheck and then go back home to do ten more exciting films in China. Tucker is good, though it'll be interesting to see what he does when the Rush Hour franchise is retired - which it appears to be after the so-so results and quality of this picture. The supporting cast, though, is where the real pain is, though some of it has to be blamed on the screenwriting. I absolutely hated the performance by Jingchu Zhang; she just sounds so awkward in her attempts to speak English that her "emotional" moments come off more humorous than anything else. Complimenting that is the fact that her character lays ludicrous expectations on the two heroes: she makes them promise that they single handedly track down and kill/capture the man responsible for trying to assassinate her father. Are you serious? The demand is just ridiculous, and is simply there to make Lee feel guilty once again whenever he fails.
Rush Hour 3 is still moderately entertaining at times, but compared to the last two films, it doesn't have much new to offer. It's time to retire this franchise.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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