Rush Hour 3 is the reeling definition of a cash grab. 1998’s original was fun enough, but since it went on to make untold millions we’re now subjected to the sequel machine, which started with 2001’s dismal and largely unfunny Rush Hour 2. This third offering blatantly breaks my sequel rule (if it’s five or more years after the original or previous sequel, odds are it’s weak at best and rubbish at worst). Rush Hour 3 checks in as weak, which automatically makes it better than Rush Hour 2. Still, there’s no conceivable reason for the movie to exist other than the almighty coin.
The plot this time around, and much like the previous two entries, is some nonsense about a Chinese mafia group called the Triads. One of their henchmen kills an American at the World Government headquarters and our heroes James Carter (Tucker) and Inspector Lee (Chan) are brought in to investigate the criminal ties. Their journey lands them in Paris, where they become targets for not only the Triads, but the angry French locals who despise Americans. Predictably, one of Lee’s relatives is held for ransom and you can never rule out the evil old white guy.
Jeff Nathanson’s screenplay is a hodge-podge of rip-offs and recycled jokes from previous films, not to mention other prominent action films (Hard Boiled, for starters). Honestly, what’s left for Carter and Lee to do? There’s a whole new round of racially charged jokes that Tucker consistently delivers with underlying contempt, rather than humor, and Jackie Chan is now reduced to musical interludes. Even at fifty-three the man still has amazing energy and has an undeniably affectionate screen presence.
Tucker has always been the weak link in this franchise (even Brett Ratner’s direction is fluid and keeps the action coming) and here, just like the others, he fizzles out within the first two acts. He takes on more physical comedy, to mixed results, and his speed-talking, face-contorting persona was tiresome by the end of the first film. As Carter he sometimes proves to be a viable foil for Chan, and it oddly enough happens when he’s more subdued, but he too often goes for the obvious joke.
It’s safe to add Rush Hour 3 to the list of summer duds that end with a “3” or variation thereof. Hollywood’s inanity is at an all-time high right now when it comes to blatant cash grabs, and the only action we, the audience can take, is to simply stop attending these unimaginative and unnecessary sequels and remakes. This much is certain: If you’ve seen one Rush Hour, you’ve seen them all.
Studio: New Line Cinema
Length: 90 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of action violence, sexual content, nudity and language.
Theatrical Release: August 10, 2007
Directed by: Brett Ratner
Written by: Jeff Nathanson. Characters by Ross LaManna.
Cast: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Max von Sydow, Noemie Lenoir, Hiroyuki Sanada, Roselyn Sanchez