Rush Hour 3 (New Line, PG-13)

film_rushhour_smAlso a good idea? Not letting an assassin reach into his pocket when you're trying to subdue him. I promise he is not reaching for chewing gum.







Six years may not seem like a long time to wait when making a sequel to a highly successful buddy film, but the public forgets fast. And because of it, all Rush Hour 3 can do is make us remember the good old days.

Carter (Chris Tucker) and Lee (Jackie Chan) get pulled into another adventure when a Chinese diplomat is shot during a meeting of international leaders. Lee and Carter are then charged with tracking down the men behind the diplomat's attempted murder.

It's pretty clear what happens next, right? Lee and Carter chop and block their way across Los Angeles and Paris as they follow the band of stealthy international criminals. People laugh, cry and get shot up. It's all very standard-issue martial-arts-action-comedy stuff.

Herein lies the problem with sequels. The goal is to put the same characters in situations similar to those in the previous films and hope for sparks to fly once again. But, it's rare that that old magic can be recaptured. The result can often end up feeling a bit stale or dated. Subsequent movies in a series (as in The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter) at least have some built-in purpose: move the characters and story forward. Rush Hour 3, however, has no purpose. So, much like sequels past, it's doomed to repeat itself.

Writer Jeff Nathanson worked mighty hard at bringing the franchise full circle. We're revisited by secondary characters from the original movie, treated to references of the events of the second and recycled dialogue ("I'll go that way." "And I'll go this way.") from both. The result isn't as closure-filled as Nathanson may have hoped, though. Familiarity won't exactly breed contempt for Rush Hour 3, but it doesn't help either.

An action movie is, of course, nothing without its action. I fear I may have become desensitized to all the running, flying, jumping and flipping seen in martial arts actioners, because none of the moves here surprised or even delighted me much. I've already seen variations on people jumping off overpasses, running up walls and using other people to beat up their opponents.

I've seen Chan in enough films to catch him doing just about everything without actually dying on film. Another problem is that we all know Chan can perform amazing physical feats, and the action scenes here aren't bold enough to make what he does seem otherworldly again. Even though I've never watched him fight atop the Eiffel Tower, when he did it here the effect was, "Oh, look at Jackie Chan, he's balancing on Eiffel Tower beams again," instead of, "Wow!"

On top of that, Chan's character is unbelievably naïve. Anybody who's been in law enforcement as long as Lee should know some basic things. For instance: Make sure the building across the street is secured before the person you're protecting stands to speak in front of a wall filled with giant glass windows. Also a good idea? Not letting an assassin reach into his pocket when you're trying to subdue him. I promise he is not reaching for chewing gum.

Tucker does what he always does: bug his eyes, screech in his man-child voice, and impersonate effete singers. Don't misunderstand, Tucker is a funny guy, but this is certainly not a case where resting on his laurels (also known as "huge piles of dough") has made him a better performer. I know Tucker is capable of more depth, and I think if he works a bit more, he's sure to find it. | Adrienne Jones

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