Sunday, September 16, 2007

Overdue Movie Review: Rush Hour 3

Rush Hour 3

In Brief: What's Good

  • Excellent martial arts scenes from Jackie Chan.

  • Funny at times.

In Brief: What's Not So Good

  • Too few martial arts scenes from Jackie Chan.

  • A little Chris Tucker goes a long way.

  • The format of these movies is getting predictable.

C- Story
C+ Acting
B- Directing
B Visuals

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker return for the third, and likely final, installment in the Rush Hour 3 franchise. It's three years later, and Lee (Chan) and Carter (Tucker) have gone their separate ways. Carter is directing traffic, and Lee is helping protect Ambassador Han (the Consul from the first movie). When an assassin attempts to kill Han, Lee and Carter's paths cross, and they once again team up to find the assassin and protect Han and his now group-up daughter Soo Yung.

I know that the Rush Hour movies haven't gotten the greatest reviews in the world. But, I've liked the movies, mostly because I love Jackie Chan's highly acrobatic and intricately choreographed martial arts scenes but without all the awkward dubbing of his movies originally filmed in Chinese. I like his Owen Wilson team-ups in Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights for the same reasons.

However, Owen Wilson has quieter charisma and more charming demeanor than the over-the-top Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan's sidekick from the Rush Hour movies. And, a liiiittle Chris Tucker goes a loooong way. In fact, when watching the first Rush Hour movie on TV recently, it wasn't as good as I remembered it being. In the third installment, Tucker's loudmouth nature does get a bit annoying at times. I would now say that the 2nd movie is probably the best in the franchise. (Who knows, if I catch the 2nd one on TV sometime soon, I may change my mind.)

Also, after three movies, I think I now see a pattern in how each one is written. (1) An unusual set of circumstances bring Carter and Lee together. (2) Carter and Lee reluctantly "agree" to work together even though they are completely incompatible as colleagues. (3) Carter begins every subsequent scene by saying, "Here, Lee, let me handle this," as he proceeds to get himself into some kind of trouble, usually in the form of getting his butt kicked. Meanwhile, one of two things occurs: (4-A) Lee gets mixed up in the same trouble Carter does, or (4-B) Lee goes exploring on his own while Carter yells and makes a fool of himself. Next, either: (5-A) The trouble, once it's achieved its cheap laugh, ends abruptly so that Carter and Lee can go back to work, or (5-B) Lee finds his own trouble, often with a female martial artist, and uses his acrobatic skills until a moment in which Carter must help him out. After several repetitions of steps 4 & 5, we eventually get to a point in which: (6) Carter and Lee offend each other and go their separate ways. (7) Carter and Lee team back up in the climactic confrontation in which Carter actually shows a marginally higher level of intelligence & professionalism, at least to the point that he's somewhat effective as a cop. (8) Lee and Carter save the day in an unlikely way and go dancing off screen like they're the best of friends.

Sprinkled in along the way are Carter hitting on women, Carter confusing Lee's fights with female bad guys as him hooking up with women, Carter and Lee reminiscing about their heroic fathers who were also cops, and a bad guy inevitably being an old Caucasian male mixed up with the Chinese mob.

To set itself appart, the third installment is set in Paris, includes a bad guy from Lee's childhood, gets supporting cast help from a French taxi driver familiar with the action-packed nature of American cop movies, includes a secret list of Chinese mobster names hidden in an unlikely place, and has its climactic fight sequence occur on, in, and around the Eiffel Tower.

Luckily, each Rush Hour movie also includes a set of outtakes and bloopers during the end credits. So far, the funniest outtake is from the 2nd movie in which a bad guy has just fallen from a high window onto a car parked below, and Chris Tucker, breaking character, looks down at the guy from the window and yells, "Daaaamn. He ain't gonna be in Rush Hour 3!!!"

Despite the formulaic nature and Chris Tucker's occasionally nerve-grating performance, the Rush Hour movies are still fun to watch, and that includes the 3rd installment. If you're not a fan of Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, the much criticized director Brett Ratner, or this franchise in general, maybe that's why Rush Hour 3 came out this summer. In a summer full of no less than six "threequels" (Spider-Man 3, Pirates 3, Shrek the Third, Ocean's 13, Bourne Ultimatum, Rush Hour 3) when else could the not-universely-loved Rush Hour franchise get away with capping off its trilogy? Okay, so it wasn't great. It's still not that bad either. I still enjoyed it--most of it anyway.

Fun Facts from Internet Movie Database

At one time, the producers condsidered shooting both a 3rd & 4th installment back-to-back. (So, maybe this franchise isn't dead afterall.) Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme were both considered to play the villains.

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