Rush Hour 3 plunks our questionable partners, the loose-mouthed Carter (Chris Tucker) and elastic Lee (Jackie Chan), into an international scandal involving the Chinese Triad election that takes them from sunny Los Angeles to gay Paris. Lee's friend and employer Consul Hu (Tzi Ma) is about to blow the lid off the Triads when a sniper snags him a few centimeters north of his heart. Hu's friend Vernard (Von Sydow) OKs Lee and Carter's trip to his hometown of Paris, where, for one reason or another, the Chinese Triad have decided to have an election.
The gears of this machine grind hard and they blare out of the speakers during almost every second of Rush Hour 3, exempting the few blissful minutes of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot's "Bonnie and Clyde" that is played during a burlesque scene. The most surprising aspect of this unneeded and unwanted third chapter is how effectively director Brett Ratner breaks what he'd actually fixed. Originally, Rush Hour was a structure piece: a half-assed Lethal Weapon with less chemistry and more acrobatics. Then, seeing the infantilism of rigid structure, Ratner let it all hang out in Rush Hour 2. Hour 2 was one of those rare moments where the inherent fun of something outweighed the stupidity of it, allowing Chan and Tucker to riff with a loose vitality. It was a pleasure; no guilt about it.
The rigidness of Ratner's first film has nothing on the stupendous banality of this latest incarnation. Instead of the playful banter that infested the second film, Chan's stiff delivery is punctuated by meaningless and exhaustive one-liners that pour out of Tucker like an oil tanker that just got the business-end of a torpedo. These meaningless ramblings are show ponies in a parade of cluttered storylines and absurd half-notes. The triad is represented by Lee's "brother" Kenji (Hiroyuki Sanada), who shows up when the action needs some sort of meaning. Sanada, a brooding presence in this summer's Sunshine, deserves better than this.
As if knowledgeable of its own instability, Hour 3 rushes to end itself in a manic hobgob of shoot-outs, double-crosses, and absurd one-note jokes. Ratner's film now has sloppy sense of story and pacing while losing the spontaneity that had originally given the film its wild-eyed cheer. In one scene, Lee and Carter's driver (Attal) attempts to shoot someone for no reason, "like an American." Rush Hour 3 then gives him a reason and takes away all the fun of it.
Run time: 91 mins
In Theaters: Friday 10th August 2007
Box Office USA: $140.1M
Box Office Worldwide: $258M
Distributed by: New Line Cinema
Production compaines: New Line Cinema
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 18%
Fresh: 29 Rotten: 128
IMDB: 6.2 / 10
Director: Brett Ratner
Screenwriter: Jeff Nathanson
Starring: Chris Tucker as Det. James Carter, Jackie Chan as Chief Insp. Lee, Hiroyuki Sanada as Kenji, Max von Sydow as Varden Reynard, Yvan Attal as George, Roman Polanski as Det. Revi, Zhang Jingchu as Soo Yung, Philip Baker Hall as Capt. William Diel, Noémie Lenoir as Genevieve, Sarah Shahi as Zoe (uncredited), Youki Kudoh as Dragon Lady, Tzi Ma as Ambassador Han, Dana Ivey as Sister Agnes, Henry O as Master Yu, Mia Tyler as Marsha, Michael Chow as Chinese Foreign Minister, Kentaro as French Assassin