When Ambassador Han (Tzi Ma) is shot in Los Angeles just as he is about to reveal the identify of the leader of the Chinese Triads and how the syndicate operates, all Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker) and Chief Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) have to go on is that their secrets lie in Paris. Now the mismatched Carter and Lee are both fish out of water as they go up against their toughest foe in a foreign land in "Rush Hour 3."
Six years after the second installment after much talk of the series' practically exclusive star Chris Tucker's high salary demands and the continued aging of martial arts icon Jackie Chan, it would seem that there is little to warrant "Rush Hour 3," and yet in not expecting too much I was surprised how much of a good time I had watching it. In fact, its climatic Eiffel Tower set piece is the best ending of the three.
We're introduced to Carter bumping and grinding to his iPod while directing L.A. traffic and hitting on the ladies. Meanwhile Lee is approaching the World Criminal Court in Han's limo. They cross paths in the ensuing chase for the sniper who shoots Han. Unbeknownst to Carter, we learn that that sniper is Kenji (Hiroyuki Sanada, "The Twilight Samurai," "Sunshine"), Lee's 'brother,' when Lee corners him, then refuses to shoot. And "Rush Hour 3's" hook is all about brotherhood - Carter claims to be half Chinese in unwanted kinship that is well-earned by film's end. There is also the 'brotherhood' of French cab driver George (Yvan Attal, "My Wife is an Actress," "Munich") who refuses to drive their 'kind' (Americans) until he is turned onto gun-fighting car chases and becomes pro-American.
It is a very grown up Soo Yung (Jingchu Zhang) who begs the detectives to save her dad by retrieving a letter in her locker, but they're beaten to the punch and fly to Paris in the dark. But as in previous "Rush Hour" films, it's not the story that's important and this one is no original - there is the (surprise! - not really) bad guy played by Max von Sydow ("Minority Report") and the person that's not a person but yet is embodied by a person. There are also some truly exciting stunt and action sequences, such as a hospital shootout, car and motorcycle chase through the streets of Paris, Lee's run-in with the deadly Jasmine (Youki Kudoh, "Memoirs of a Geisha"), Lee's encounter with the 7'9" Sun Ming Ming, and that extended, well-choreographed ending (where a French flag tips its hat to the banners of the first film's ending).
Chan may not be capable of the elaborate feats of days past, but he's still pretty amazing to watch and always has that incredible charisma to cushion him. Tucker is a love him or hate him kind of comedian and if you love him, you'll find him pretty hilarious here from a nicely riffed 'Who's on first' routine to an impromptu theater performance. They're both great in a bit that sounds stale on paper - using an older nun as a French translator for increasingly R-rated exchanges - that is one of the film's high points. That said, the film uses director Roman Polanski as Detective Revi for some extremely dubious comedy (what was he thinking?) and the 'humorous' explanation for the disappearance of Chan's romantic interest at the end of "2" is tasteless indeed.
"Rush Hour 3" is pure summer popcorn - instantly forgettable but fast paced and entertaining while you're watching it.
Robin did not see this film.
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