Rush Hour 3

Rush Hour 3


Reviewed by: Ben Sillis

Until Rush Hour, kung fu jester Jackie Chan’s American films lacked a certain, to use an appropriate term, punch. The stunts would be fantastic and the action scenes riotous, inevitable considering his talents - but the plots for his films would be very weak indeed (Mr Nice Guy, for instance), perhaps inevitable, too, considering they would be structured around the fights.

Rush Hour took Chan’s manic skills and combined them with comedian Chris Tucker’s wisecracks, resulting in one of the best action romps in years, an east-meets-west 48 Hours if you will, and a pairing that he successfully repeated with Owen Wilson in Shanghai Noon.

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It was with cautious optimism then that I sat down to watch the third outing for Inspector Lee and Detective James Carter. This time round, Lee is acting as bodyguard for the Chinese ambassador to the US, who has been making his own investigations into the Chinese Triad gangs, and who exactly runs them all. When he is attacked, the trail leads the pair to Paris in pursuit of a secret list holding all the Triad Heads’ names.

All things considered, it’s not been a bad year for “threequels” so far, save perhaps Shrek 3, but Rush Hour 3 sadly bucks the trend by being astonishingly formulaic.

It's an action buddy sequel set in European city - Paris, in this case, so no surprises as to what landmark is used. A black character who does nothing but shout things in a Hollywood-comedy-black sort of way (Chris Tucker spends most of the film yelling “Hell no!” in his nasal tones, insulting people’s “mommas” and looking at female rear ends, traits which are starting to wear a bit thin now, despite his surprisingly few film outings). A venerable European actor who-actually-probably-shouldn’t-be-trusted-because-he’s-European-and-therefore-sinister (Swede Max von Sydow, venerable in an oh-so-evil way, replacing the original Rush Hour’s Tom Wilkinson). All the boxes have been ticked, but with a pen all too quickly running dry.

All good and well, you might say. Chan vehicles have never been about plot, and this one’s is little more than join the dots, instead relying on his charismatic and playful energy in fight scenes ladelled with props, and dramatic stunts. Director Brett Ratner just about keeps this ticking over, even if a few scenes, such as a hilarious trip to a dojo (and a crude mockery of Chinese names), and a duet by the two leads on a cabaret stage, feel somewhat shoehorned in.

But disappointingly, the film uses CGI in an absurd climax. It’s something Chan’s been using in films (whether reluctantly or no) since The Medallion and The Tuxedo a few years back, and a source of great disappointment for fans. When he hangs off a building, as, er, he is often prone to, the expectation with Chan is that this is real, something often shown in the past by the outtakes that traditionally accompany the credit reels on his films. Here, it isn’t, and it’s safe to say that Thai action hero and star of Ong Bak Tony Jaa has usurped his crown as the king of old school, no FX action.

CGI in itself isn’t the problem, but it raises some more worrying prospects. Chan is in his mid-50s now though, and still going far stronger than any Stallone, Ford or Willis. An astonishing feat, but nevertheless, and I’m loathe to say it, I’m starting to wonder whether it might be time for Chan to bow out gracefully, rather than become increasingly supported by digital effects.

Nightmare scenario: A sequel to “Who Am I?”, in which an aging, Alzheimers plagued Chan tries to remember why he’s in a home, while fending off ninja nurses with his zimmerframe in front of a green screen. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this.

Reviewed on: 15 Aug 2007
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Jackie Chan kicks his way through Paris in martial arts sequel.
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Director: Brett Ratner

Writer: Jeff Nathanson, based on characters by Ross LaManna

Starring: Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, Max von Sydow, Hiroyuki Sanada, Yvan Attal, Youki Kudoh, Noémie Lenoir, Jingchu Zhang, Tzi Ma, Henry O, Michael Chow

Year: 2007

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: USA


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