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RUSH HOUR 3
U.S. Release Date: August 10, 2007
Distributor: New Line
Director: Brett Ratner
Writer: Jeff Nathanson
Producer: Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Arthur M. Sarkissian, Jay Stern
Cast: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker
Running Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (sequences of action violence, sexual content, nudity and language)

Third Rush Still Fun
by Brandon Gray

Six years after their last movie, the cross-cultural chemistry is still present between Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in Rush Hour 3 but, with less Chan action, the pendulum swings in favor of Tucker's humor. The picture's an amusing action-comedy romp but it's also a slapdash affair that doesn't pack as much fun and thrills as its predecessors.

Action kicks off in Los Angeles with an assassination attempt on Chan's charge, the Chinese ambassador from the first movie, who is leading a new initiative to take out the Triad criminal organization. Stuck in traffic cop duty, Tucker inserts himself into Chan's investigation, despite their friendship being strained from an offputting incident in New York, their destination at the end of Rush Hour 2. The Triads keep after them, and they learn that Paris holds the key to stopping the gangsters, so off they go.

Predictable shenanigans ensue, including the Rush Hour staples of villains from Chan's Hong Kong past, corrupt old white guys, references to the Beach Boys and the anthem "War" and more, only with less acrobatics than previous Chan pictures. Director Brett Ratner keeps the tone light and the pace brisk, though jokes don't feel fully realized. Tucker pulls them off with charm and energy for the most part, invigorating rote material, and Chan makes a solid straight man. There's an Abbott and Costello vibe, made explicit with Tucker's "Who's on First"-like exchange with Asians named "Yu" and "Mi."

As with the earlier movies, musical numbers are highlights. Tucker starts the movie with a rendition of Prince's "Do Me, Baby," and Chan's best moment is when he joins Tucker in a performance of Roberta Flack's "The Closer I Get to You" at a French night club, in a bid to save an informant. Noemie Lenoir as the informant adds some Paris sizzle, though the movie's other women, a Dragon Lady and a grown-up version of the first movie's little girl, fare poorly. The latter lacks the original character's spunk.

After Chan visited Tucker's Los Angeles in the first Rush Hour and Tucker vacationed in Chan's Hong Kong in Rush Hour 2, Rush Hour 3's gimmick is to place the odd couple where they are both fish out of water: the common movie destination of Paris, France (Chan had already done London in Shanghai Knights). Heading off to Europe is often a sign of creative bankruptcy for sequels, and Rush Hour 3 is no exception. Paris isn't exploited much as a location and seems to be populated primarily by bad guys from Hong Kong.

Aside from the hokey inclusion of the Eiffel Tower, Paris is mostly embodied by a French taxi driver who turns his nose at Americans for being too violent yet develops a taste for blood himself. So routine are the proceedings that it's surprising he's not played by Hollywood's go-to Frenchie Jean Reno (The Pink Panther remake, The Da Vinci Code, etc.), but Yvan Attal (The Interpreter) acquits himself well in the role.

Rush Hour 3's worst transgression is what it does to Chan's character. A long-lost evil brother is introduced and Chan repeatedly chooses not to take him out, simply because of the blood connection, and he never triumphs on this front. Straining for such drama has always been a weak point of the series, and Rush Hour 3 unfortunately gives short shrift to the theme of Tucker's "brother from another mother." Overall, though, the latest entry in the Rush Hour series is a good time.


REVIEWS OF SIMILAR MOVIES:
Mission: Impossible III
Do Not Accept This Mission
Rush Hour 2
What a Second Rush
The Tuxedo
Dull-Dressed Man
Live Free or Die Hard
Fourth Outing Nets Action and Laughs


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