This is definitely the year of trilogies. Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End started the summer season off. Now Rush Hour 3 hits the silver screen and I must say, I’m a bit surprised by this release — after all it’s been six years since Rush Hour 2 was released. Was someone in need of a paycheck?
To be honest, I’m torn on this one: on one hand the movie delivers some action packed fun and on the other hand it shows the glaring weaknesses attributed to sequels – lack of originality.
Let me start with what I found to be good. The equation is simple (why couldn’t my differential equations class be this easy?):
Jackie Chan + Chris Tucker = Funny
These guys still have fantastic chemistry. Chan reprises his role as Chief Inspector Lee, the English language mangling cop with a knack for kicking ass. Tucker returns as James Carter, the foul mouthed LAPD detective, who has tunnel vision for the ladies. They’re not paired up from the onset (as with the previous installments), instead Carter jumps headlong into the investigation of the Triad, of which Lee is already pursuing, when they try and kill an ambassador looking to unveil their leadership. The chase takes them to France where Lee and Carter are exposed to culture shock and some unexpected revelations.
And sure it can be said that Chan has lost a step – make that two or three steps – but what this guy can accomplish is still bewildering. He makes jumping off of balconies and other high flying acrobatics look fun and easy. It is such a joy to watch. As for Tucker, you love him as much as you hate him. This guy has the cornered the market for annoying, irreverent sidekicks. He hasn’t lost a step since he found his footing in Friday so many years ago. Pair this guy with any straight-man, put them in an interesting premise and a great comedy duo is born.
For the downside: Rush Hour 3 is an old dish that doesn’t have any new flavorings added to it. We can expect to get some fast paced, wickedly choreographed fight scenes and a few crazy high-flying stunts out of Chan. From Tucker we get the same old one-liners and chauvinistic attitude delivered with his signature whininess. The attempt to dress the movie up by changing the locale to France doesn’t help much either. Yes, the Eiffel Tower is a magnificent sight, but I’ve seen action sequences on it from hundreds of movies already. Adding in a French cab driver (Yvan Attal) as a third wheel really shows the writers (Jeff Nathanson and Ross LaManna) have run out ways for our heroes to interact (reminds me of Joe Pesci’s character in Lethal Weapon 3).
Clearly, Rush Hour 3 is the weakest offering of the bunch. While I did have a good time watching it, I couldn’t help but notice how tired Jackie Chan looked. His stunts are less extreme and less frequent – a major drawback for me. And while Tucker is still able to deliver full throttle I can’t help but hope this is the final chapter to what has been a successful “cop-buddy” franchise. See it with similar hopes.