Would I define Rush Hour 3 as a fiasco? Well, if you consider a has-been comedy star demanding an obscenely high pay raise over his co-star, demanding the studios put in motion a ridiculous and unneeded sequel to keep funding a franchise that was forgotten years ago, while further relegating a legendary action star into a second-banana straight man, making a pure fool of himself just to fuel a vehicle that should have been junked a long time ago, then yes, I'd say that Rush Hour 3 was a boffo, and shall always be remembered as a movie that was sorely unnecessary.
Brent Ratner’s third Rush Hour film is nothing but a repackaged action comedy with a change of scenery to keep it fresh, and, though he does follow the arc considerably well, it doesn’t make up for the basic gags, stunts, and awkward situations that were really funny nine years ago. When truly desperate, writer Jeff Nathanson stuffs in a musical number and an awkward misunderstanding or two to pad the story to fit the run time.
The basic gist is that Lee (Jackie Chan) and Carter (Chris Tucker), after losing touch after three years due to a spat, now re-unite after the Chinese ambassador is shot in an assassination attempt. Yet again, Lee and Carter must protect his daughter Soo Young who is inexplicably a full grown adult well in her twenties. Considering she was ten on the first film, she should be on the verge of twenty. Why the nitpick? Because there isn’t much substance when discussing Rush Hour 3 beyond the minor details. Ratner and Nathanson’s third film is old hat from the get-go that never really wants to progress our characters beyond the broadly drawn personalities we saw examples of in the first film. Carter ribs on Asians, Lee ribs on blacks, the writers mock Chan’s inability to pronounce perfect English, Tucker TALKS LOUDLY(!!), and the French locales are used as devices for even more xenophobic clichés. There’s even a character who declares “Amereecans ah ze most violent peeple en ze werld!”
Mostly criminal about Rush Hour 3 is that Chris Tucker is still under the impression that his act, which wore out its comedic value five years ago, is still funny today. He’s loud, he’s erratic and he’s hip, but mostly he’s loud which is why he’s funny, thus Rush Hour 3 feels like more of treading over the same old ground and running through the motions with Tucker. When we’re not enduring his utterly excruciating shtick, the writers seem to want Tucker to present some sense of respectable characteristics of his character, which sadly fail since he’s basically always on and can never stand still long enough to let us care; to wit he becomes another prop.
Speaking of props, Jackie Chan, who is still the most incredible man to grace the genre, and is yet again reduced to playing straight man and second string which is a shame considering the primary plot is motivated by his character, Lee, who is forced to confront a demon from his past and protect two loved ones while Tucker is basically the character tacked on. Nonetheless, somehow Chan only really plays assistant to Tucker’s antics, which really never manages to force anything more than a smirk from me, while he mugs for the screen and collects his paycheck the entire time. To that end, we’re also force fed insulting Asian stereotypes, from gags on names (“I am Yu!”, “No, you are Yu!”, “That’s what I am saying!”), to plays on height and traditions. While this has been a pre-requisite for the series as a whole, writer Jeff Nathanson really gets full blown offensive here.
Rush Hour 3 feels like a pastiche of skits and stunts with the story only serving as a catalyst for the madness, and when we finally get to the plot and villains, there’s too much convolution to really buy what’s going on. Max Von Sydow is also dragged down with the film, playing the newly introduced friend to the Chinese ambassador. Hmm, I wonder if he’s the villain. When it finally does end, it all feels too short lived as if it was just gearing up and suddenly sputtered out before we were able to involve ourselves in the proceedings. And of course, to fulfill his need to please fans of an otherwise tired cliché, Chan gives us nine whole minutes of bloopers, foul ups, and blunders on the set during the closing credits, but I gather many will turn the movie off before then.
New Line provides a hefty lot in the way of extras that will prove entertaining to all three fans of Rush Hour 3, and I was genuinely surprised to see the studio cough up some real material when, most of the time, these first DVD editions lack anything notable.
The centerpiece for the first disc is the commentary with Brett Ratner and Jeff Nathanson, who talk about everyone but Tucker and really point out the technical aspects of the entire film in every scene, from the minute to the largely irrelevant. Curiously enough, the two can never seem to remember each other’s names when recalling a story from the set. Ratner thinks Tucker is as funny as Richard Pryor; Ratner thinks this third film was a love story between the two; Ratner thinks that part four should be how they become lovers. Ratner is a bit of a nutjob, isn’t he?
Disc two features a three-minute blooper reel which involves Chris Tucker ruining his lines, as he always seems to do, and there’s even more Jackie Chan hurting himself! Honestly, this three-minute segment didn’t do much for me, which is sad considering bloopers usually make me laugh regardless of the film’s quality. It’s interesting to see that Chan still does his own stunts, despite the fact that he’d been using stunt doubles for a short time. I really wanted more but nothing in the montage seemed to draw genuine laughter from me.
Delving further there are seven minutes of deleted and alternate scenes that emphasize what Ratner discusses in the commentary. These can be viewed with or without Ratner and Nathanson explaining why the scenes didn't make the final cut. Ratner and Nathanson debate the alternate plane sequence where Lee and Carter argue over Lee’s cheesy ex-girlfriend device, and there’s a scene in the hotel hallway that was scrapped because the floor boards were much too squeaky. The deleted and alternate scenes really aren’t very exciting, and only most of the time feature Chan and Tucker exchanging dialogue with no clear relevance to the overall film. Nathanson and Ratner also never really have much to say in the commentary, which is disappointing for those who care about these sequences and may usually find them a good entertainment value.
There is a ninety minute “Making-Of” featurette for Rush Hour 3, which, for a film like this, is obscenely long. How many times do you have a Behind the Scenes featurette longer than the film? That’s an accomplishment of some demented kind. While I do enjoy the interviews with Von Sydow and Hiroyuki, I really didn’t think this special needed an hour more than was sensible in going over the entire film.
The two minute “Special Effects Reel” shows off the mechanics behind the climactic Eiffel Tower fight between Hiroyuki and Jackie, and it’s pretty much just a show for folks unaware of the workings of green screens and CGI models. There’s sadly no commentary or narration, just piecing the puzzle together to form the sequence for the end.