Rush Hour 3 (6/10)

Nobody going to see this movie is really going to give a crap about the kind of critical ratings it will get. The only people that are going to see it are going to be the fans of the first two Rush Hours, which, though they did get progressively worse, were still enjoyable action-comedy flicks with a healthy balance of Jackie Chan cracking ribs and Chris Tucker wise-cracking. It’s now been six years since we’ve seen these two in action, and, for the most part, they do not disappoint. However, this time around, there is far too little Jackie Chan and far too much Chris Tucker. Tucker whined and whined and whined to be paid increasingly more and more, and the result is evident. The script revolves almost entirely around Tucker’s ego, which is not to say that he’s not funny, but Chan fans will be disappointed in this outing.

The paper-thin plot revolves around Tucker and Chan trying to discover the secrets of the most powerful mafia in the world, the Chinese mafia. After a brief stint in the States, they follow a lead to Paris, presumably a decision made by the filmmakers to plaster on SOME kind of difference between these three movies. The change of scenery doesn’t really do anything for the plot, however, as, of course, mayhem ensues with the hapless Tucker causing chaos and the sensible Chan actually doing the detective work required to get to the bottom of the case.

Rush Hour 3’s biggest, and almost unforgivable problem, is Chris Tucker. He thinks he’s the greatest thing in the world, he thinks he’s God’s gift to this franchise, and you can tell that’s what’s going through his head with every second he’s onscreen. He’s completely forgotten that what made the original Rush Hour so enjoyable was not his constant banter, but the sheer affableness and true character that Chan brought to the movie. Jackie Chan has always had an easygoing and effortless relationship with his fans through the camera – this guy is easygoing, fun, he’s not bound or constantly conscious of all the “rules” that go along with being a Hollywood celebrity, the guy just simply has fun and loves doing what he’s doing. He’s not doing it for the money, not in the least, and you can always tell that in every second that Chan is on screen, but Tucker is the exact opposite. He really needs to shut up and give some space to Jackie Chan. This outing is also far more sexual than the previous two. The first featured one or two sexual innuendos, while the second had them more liberally sprinkled, but in this outing it seems hardly five minutes go by without Tucker making some kind of sex joke, or some provocative shot of a woman, or said woman undressing. Why the change? Who knows? Maybe Ratner thought more skin would sell. Maybe it’s just the next natural step upward? In any case, it doesn’t really do anything for the movie, as almost all the sexual jokes are pathetically predictable. It also significantly lowers the potential fan base – parents could, for the most part, let their kids watch Rush Hours 1 and 2 without a guilty conscience, but it’s hard not to wonder whether or not it’s okay for an eight-year old to consistently watch the filth that comes off the screen of Rush Hour 3. These sexual jokes do not manage to draw anything more than cheap laughs, and Chris Tucker’s predictable white/Asian/French racist jokes mostly just grate on the nerves. The only good thing comedically about this movie is a French cab driver who, in a rather clever bit of satirical script-writing, decides he wants to be like an American and “kill people for no reason,” a supposedly mature commentary on our own society, but whose potential, is, unfortunately, never fully explored. And besides, all this stuff centered around Chris Tucker takes away from the usual reliable Chan action scenes, which are barely featured at all in the movie, and when they are, none of Chan’s potential is ever fully unleashed.

The first Rush Hour’s action scenes were kinetic, choppy, and very difficult to really understand. Once Chan’s punches started flying, the camera seemed to cut randomly from shot to shot without paying much attention to what Chan was actually doing. Whereas his moves flowed like a graceful ballet of action, the camera was an uncoordinated klutz. The second Rush Hour was a clear improvement in this department as Ratner learned how to better film action scenes. In this one, he takes another step up and the way the action is filmed is the best part about the movie. Not the action itself, mind you. Normally when you watch a Jackie Chan film, he uses every single object around him creatively and bounces around the room like a frog with barely a pause for breath. In Rush Hour 3, most of the action is straight, to the point, and lacking. Ratner never approaches the scenes with a sense of reverence for the material. You can tell he’s just thinking, “Okay, we gotta squeeze in this fight scene here, but let’s move on as quickly as possible.” For the first half hour of the movie, I was consistently waiting for a great fight scene to come along. But it never did. Even once fight began, there would be one or two semi-wow moments, but they were just never good enough. That, and they were few and far between – nowhere near enough action for a Chan flick, and that is the most unforgivable part about this movie. On the posters Jackie Chan gets first billing, but from watching the movie, you wonder why Chris Tucker didn’t.

Tucker simply sucks all the Chan fun out of this movie. Whereas this third outing could have been a great collaboration of their comedy styles, it mostly feels like trying to fit Chan into more of an American box. Chan would normally never consistently make dirty jokes in his films, he’s even said that he doesn’t like too much sex in his movies because it detracts from the material. But he makes several sexual jokes in this film that seem more like they should be coming out of Tucker’s mouth than his. Even his action is basically dumbed down garden variety martial arts – there’s none of that delicate Chan flair. Nevertheless, the mere presence of Jackie Chan saves this movie from total disaster – if it weren’t for him it would simply be Chris Tucker parading around with a T-shirt that said, “I’m the greatest!” If you’re a Rush Hour fan, this movie is worth seeing, and if you’re a Chris Tucker fan, well, I’m sorry.

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