Judge Franck Tabouring urges Brett Ratner to let this be the last of the series.
They're rushing through the hours quick.
Whether you like them or not, Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan are back chasing villains, saving the world, and talking nonsense. After the first Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2 grossed over $367 million domestically, it was just a matter of time before Brett Ratner gathered his crew and plunged into the production of a third installment. Rush Hour 3 ended up having the biggest budget with $140 million, but contrary to its two predecessors, the movie earned a lot less at the box office. Sure, Tucker and Chan are a remarkable team, but as in many friendships, things really start to wear off after a while. Sad to say, the third film is considerably less funny than the previous installments, supplying its viewers with just enough action to keep everyone satisfied. Is it time to end the series for good?
Facts of the Case
As the movie opens, Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker) and Chief Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) are pursuing separate careers. Carter is working traffic in downtown Los Angeles, while Lee is escorting Ambassador Han (Tzi Ma) to the World Criminal Court. But during his speech about tracking down vicious Triad leaders, Han is shot, and next thing we know, Lee is in hot pursuit of the shooter. Carter happens to be in the same neighborhood and obviously joins the hunt, at least until he messes up and the suspect gets away.
With Han in critical condition, his daughter Soo Yung (you know, the girl they rescued in the first film) shows up at the hospital, asking Lee and Carter to promise her they'll find the shooter and bring him to justice. Of course they both agree, and before we know it, Carter and Lee are back together, leading a perilous investigation that will take them all the way to Paris. Something tells me they're not going there to schmooze on top of the Eiffel Tower.
Sequels to sequels often face the dilemma of lacking innovation and simply recycle whatever made their predecessors so popular and successful, and Rush Hour 3 is definitely no exception. The fun we discovered in the original and grew familiar with in the first sequel now starts to tail off, and Brett Ratner and his team struggle to feed their viewers with something they haven't seen yet. Now that the Rush Hour films have won large audiences, Tucker and Chan think everything they say and do is hilarious. I'm afraid it's not. The creativity behind Carter's character, for instance, is gone and lacks punch. He's still the big talker and probably speaks faster than anyone I have ever listened to, but most of what he utters is more annoying than hilarious. Even his conversations with Lee are less profound than usual. The first two films introduced viewers to Carter and Lee's unique characters and took some time establishing their particular relationship, but that factor is now gone and the plot quickly settles into a routine that has cinemagoers yawning instead of laughing.
The plot is not as exciting either, and the main intrigue behind Rush Hour 3 fails to offer anything new, really. The first film was fun because Carter and Lee had to find the ambassador's daughter while they were trying hard enough to get along. In the sequel, they encountered new conflicts as they chased a criminal who triggered a bomb at a U.S. embassy. Now, they are tracking down a list that could expose the names of major Triad leaders, but their peculiar partnership is barely tested. The basic idea behind the story of the third film sounds intriguing enough, but screenwriter Jeff Nathanson made it too easy for them this time. Finding the clues becomes an unchallenging task, the turn of events in the investigation is rushed and a little too obvious to be compelling enough, and even that special chemistry between Tucker and Chan has lost its subtlety. The two have become too familiar with each other's character, and they both keep doing their own, traditional thing. Another reason why any further development of the main characters is virtually impossible is the film's short running time. The end credits start rolling at only 81 minutes, and although the film is fast-paced most of the time, it falls apart every time the action slows down.
Before there was even word about a third film, the Rush Hour films were fun for their action and dialogue. Now the dialogue is shallow and rather annoying, and only the action remains solid. Chan still got the moves, Tucker still moves around like a clown, and although their talk is not as spicy anymore, they are still a good team when it comes to jumping walls and kicking butt. Unfortunately, some of the action scenes look too much alike, which drastically reduces the suspense and only damages our expectations. The film's best action sequence takes place rather early in the film, and the big showdown on the Eiffel Tower is definitely not as impressive as the finales of the previous films. If you desire a fantastic action scene on top of the tower, I suggest checking out A View to a Kill, in which James Bond chases Grace Jones before she parachutes onto a boat. That's what I call Eiffel Tower action!
The Rebuttal Witnesses
This case is not closed yet, and while the evidence strongly suggests that Rush Hour 3 is the weakest of the series, the film also comprises some aspects that make it overall decent enough to watch. I have to give the filmmakers credit for the brilliant motorcycle chase across Paris. It is perfectly coordinated and by far the most exciting scene in the movie, keeping you on the edge of your seat until all the cars and motorcycles come to a complete stop. Part of why this scene works so beautifully is Yvan Attal, who stars as a cab driver pretending to be an American spy. He's not only stealing the show and pulling the most laughs, but his character also plays around with some hysterically amusing American and French stereotypes that account for the film's funniest scenes.
Both the audio and video transfers on the DVD are of superb quality. The movie includes a horde of visual effects and the picture is always sharp and clean. Music, sound effects and dialogue are well balanced too, so don't hesitate to turn up your surround system. You'll like what you hear.
The special features on the two-disc edition are numerous and deliver everything you probably ever wanted to know about the making of Rush Hour 3. Besides a decent outtake reel and a selection of rather unimpressive deleted and extended scenes, the bonus material on the second disc includes a spectacular 87-minute, five-part behind-the-scenes look. Members of the cast and crew start off with a quick recap of the plot, before they go on raving about the choice of actors and how they evolved over the series. Ratner also says he thinks the script for the third film is better than the two previous ones, but I strongly disagree. The best part of this featurette is "Teaming up," a 10-minute piece during which Ratner talks about the importance of his production crew. This is particularly interesting because he introduces his viewers to other members of the crew, who all get a chance to briefly talk about what it is they are doing and how they do it. Another highlight of this documentary is "Scene by Scene," a 38-minute look at the step-by-step process of assembling nine of the film's biggest scenes. All in all, this featurette is the epitome of a great making of. It's an intense lesson for future filmmakers and for anybody who's really passionate about movies and would like to learn a lot more about the complex process of shooting and editing an action blockbuster.
The disc also comprises an informative 2-minute visual effects reel, and an intriguing production diary. This special feature is interesting in that it offers other details about the making of the movie than the aforementioned featurette, including preproduction, the first day of filming, the motorcycle chase, rehearsals and the fight on the Eiffel Tower. Although the second disc carefully explores the world of Rush Hour 3, the filmmakers commentary with Bratt Ratner and Jeff Nathanson is yet another must. They both reveal compelling details about some of the scenes in the movie and openly discuss what they added to the locations, how cool it was to shoot the stunts and what challenges they struggled with on set. Although Ratner and Nathanson continuously compliment each other for their work, they take the commentary seriously enough and talk about stuff you won't find in the behind-the-scenes look. Even if you don't appreciate a feature film that much, the bonus material on a DVD sometimes offers an extensive and enlightening exploration of the production of a movie. Film buffs will find it fascinating, and the movie itself is quickly forgotten.
I always feel pretty bad when I get more excited about a special features section than about the feature film itself, but as much as I tried to love Rush Hour 3, it couldn't convince me enough. The film has its positive moments, few laughs and some great action, but three films into the series, it simply needs more juice and new, original content. I take this film as a warning to bring the franchise to a close. Ratner said he could make as many Rush Hour films as Tucker and Chan could do, but I strongly suggest they give it a rest and turn their attention to something else.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
• Commentary with Director Brett Ratner and Screenwriter Jeff Nathanson
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