|Rush Hour 3 (2007)
Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Hiroyuki Sanada, Youki Kudoh, Max Von
Sydow, Noemie Lenoir, Yvan Attel
Director: Brett Ratner
Call me crazy, but I actually liked the first two “Rush Hour” films. When the original was released in 1998, it was during a time when the Hong Kong cinema movement was just hitting its stride in the U.S. Of course, it was only natural for Hollywood to add a little comedy into the mix, and with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover saying farewell to the buddy cop genre that same year, it was the perfect time to introduce a new onscreen duo to American audiences. Enter Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, whose unlikely partnership raked in millions of dollars at the box office and led to an even more successful (though not necessarily better) sequel.
Despite my own personal hatred for Tucker (who tops even Martin Lawrence on the World’s Most Annoying list), his onscreen chemistry with Chan was undeniable. In fact, it worked so well that the duo decided to get the band back together (including director Brett Ratner) and give it one more go. Production on the third film was halted several times – reportedly due to Tucker holding out for script approval (and probably more money) – but in the end, the movie was made, Tucker got paid, and moviegoers now have another sequel to shun this summer. Perhaps Tucker should have held out a little longer, because while “Rush Hour 3” isn’t quite the carbon copy that the second film was, it’s a lazy attempt at cashing in on a sure thing.
It’s been six years since the events of “Rush Hour 2,” and Detective James Carter (Tucker) has since been demoted to the position of traffic cop. Chief Inspector Lee (Chan), meanwhile, has resumed his post as part of Consul Han’s (Tzi Ma) secret service, but when an assassination attempt is made on the Ambassador’s life and his daughter (Jinchu Zhang) is kidnapped, Lee teams up with Carter once again to investigate. The trail leads to Paris, France, where the identity of Shy Shen (the center of the triad crime ring) is hidden, and where ghosts from Lee’s past have returned to haunt him.
For those of who’ve seen the first two films, the plot may sound incredibly familiar. I mean, didn’t the daughter get kidnapped in the first movie? Have we honestly gotten to a point in moviemaking where ideas are so scarce they actually need to be recycled within the same franchise? It’s not as if Jeff Nathanson didn’t have plenty of time to come up with something original, either. He had six years (give or take) to create a story that was both fresh and worthwhile, but instead, he delivered a script that was practically already written for him. Repeat a set piece here, steal a classic comedy routine there and… wah la, an instant movie in less than fifteen minutes.
The only thing worse than sitting through a movie of rehashed set pieces, is sitting through one that stars Chris Tucker. While the previous films did a decent job of balancing the action between the two actors, “Rush Hour 3” feels a little too much like “The Chris Tucker Show.” Chan doesn’t just take a backseat this time around – he’s literally shrouded in his co-star’s ego. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think his increased presence had something to do with that aforementioned script approval he so desperately required. As if making $20 million for his first role in six years wasn’t enough, Tucker had to go and ruin it with an over-the-top performance not even Nicolas Cage could rival.
The two-disc release of “Rush Hour 3” doesn’t look nearly as jam-packed as the need for a second disc would suggest, but once you get past the outtakes and deleted scenes, there’s actually a wealth of material worth checking out. Along with a decent commentary by director Brett Ratner and writer Jeff Nathanson, the DVD also includes an 87-minute making-of featurette that spans the origin of the script, casting, production and more, while Ratner’s 65-minute production diary (“Le Rush Hour Trois”) fills in all of the holes with excellent behind-the-scenes coverage of the film’s shoot in Paris.