Saturday, August 11, 2007
essentially pick up whereRush Hour 2
left off. Chief Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) has been sent to America again. This time he must guard Ambassador Han (Tzi Ma) who's about to make a major revelation about the Chinese triads. But someone attempts to kill him during his presentation and the ambassador is hospitalized. Han's daughter (Jinchu Zhang) reveals that her father had gathered information was that was extremely dangerous regarding the triads. This prompts Lee to hook back up with L.A. cop James Carter (Chris Rock). The two end up heading out to Paris on the heels of Han's mysterious would-be assassin (Hiroyuki Sanada) who seems to have close ties to Lee.
There will be fights... Rush Hour 3 (New Line)
There are no surprises in Rush Hour 3, which means it will satisfy anyone who liked the first two films but probably won't win over new converts. Chan and Tucker have grown quite comfortable in their roles and glide through the film on autopilot. Brett Ratner, returning for the third time, directs the film with energy and speed but not much inspiration. The most innovative scenes involve stunts, for which I'm sure Chan (who is always involved in action sequences and who is himself a director and fight choreographer) provided most of the inspiration. Chan's trademark has always been action with a sense of humor and with inspired use of environment. Chan will turn any prop--tables, chairs, car doors--into weapons, and will take advantage of anything a location has to offer--like the Eiffel Tower. Even though Chan, now in his fifties, isn't doing the kind of extreme stunts that made him famous, he still knows how to choreograph action for maximum entertainment. Even back in 1996, when I interviewed Chan, he knew that he would have to adjust stunts to accommodate a body that's getting older.
"Yes I do slow down a little bit," Chan told me after doing Rumble in the Bronx , "Like I cannot jump from the third story building any more. But Im not jumping from a third story building any more. Im jumping from a two story building. Maybe one more or two more years later, I jump one story building. But as long as I let the audience see, thats me, thats not a double, then its okay. What the audience likes to see me do right now is to see Jackie Chan. They are not buying the ticket to see a double or to see the special effects."
And for the most part he does this. Most of the action is Chan-centric with him taking the falls and the blows. I did spot one stunt double in the alley fight and a few effects shots but that's not bad. Chan has done a fine job of adjusting the action and still making it fun and exciting. Chan's fight with a woman armed with a lethal fan or a car chase through Paris are action sequences that may not be jaw-dropping but they are entertaining. Plus Chan is an appealing performer.
Roman Polanski makes a silly cameo in Rush Hour 3 (New Line)
The same, however, cannot be said of Chris Tucker. Tucker delivers a funny opening bit showing Carter bumped back down to traffic cop and dancing on the street. But then he quickly reverts to his grating sexist, insult style humor. I don't think there's a joke he delivers that's not at someone's expense. Most of the humor that scriptwriter Jeff Nathanson comes up with for Tucker is low crass humor about woman or the cultural inferiority of everyone around him. Even when Tucker's Carter tries to say something nice about Asian culture it comes out like an insult. If the comedy had a little more wit or zing then the approach would have worked better. The other problem is that Chan doesn't have the easy rapport with Tucker that he's developed with Owen Wilson in the Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights films.
There are a few interesting supporting players here. The great Max Von Sydow comes on board for a throwaway role as a diplomat; director Roman Polanski makes a silly cameo; and French actor-director Yvan Attal does a very funny turn as a cab driver who hates violent Americans but who's seduced by the adrenaline rush he gets from getting involved in the action.
Rush Hour 3 (rated PG-13 for sequences of action violence, sexual content, nudity and language) delivers formula laughs and action, and will probably draw the same big crowd as the previous installments. But Chan is so much better than his American films have let him be. In his Hong Kong films you can see the odd mix of influences of Buster Keaton, Harold Llyod and Gene Kelly. So go check out a Hong Kong classic to supplement this trifle.