You may also remember some of the great (Superbad, No Country For Old Men) and not-so-great movies (Spider-Man 3, Norbit) to come out that year. Somewhere in the middle of all that was the last in a trilogy of buddy cop movies, starring a legendary Chinese martial artist and an actor who'd only done this franchise for the past ten years. On today, we're taking a look back at Rush Hour 3, directed by Brett Ratner.
Since the second movie takes place only four days or so after the first, the time jump in the third is big. It's set ten years after the events in movie two, but technically it's less than ten years from the first movie's release. Confusing? A little. Anyway, this is significant because we see that Lee (Jackie Chan) is now Ambassador Han's (Tzi Ma) bodyguard. They are still fighting against the Triads, which is the connection between all three.
This time they are in search of the mysterious Shy Shen (because they murdered Juntao), and Han is sniped by Lee's foster brother, Kenji. Since they're all currently in Los Angeles, Carter (Chris Tucker) hears about the commotion while working traffic, commandeers a car - and its occupants - and mistakenly helps the sniper get away by being his usual, reckless self. It's pretty silly. They are just doing way too much way too early.
The once-in-peril Soo-Yung is also back, and Carter has a disturbingly pervy moment; he finds her attractive but remembers her as the young girl they saved ten years ago. Or something. They promise to bring down the shooter because of course they do. Chris Tucker's acting in this one is far from strong, and is noticeably bad beginning right around the Kung Fu studio scene.
In that scene they play the "You/Yu-Me-Mi" game which I feel they kind of just gave up on. It's very lazy dialogue meant to seem fast-paced to shoot for cheap laughs. The action sequence was just as lazy, and nowhere near the good stuff we get in the first two. Tucker was a little slow in the first and much better in the second, but in this one it's almost like he tries to be too good at the fight choreography, making it look very mechanical.
They manage to get back to the hospital right as an assassination attempt is in process to prevent it. In one of the series' funniest scenes, they interrogate a French-speaking Chinese assassin with a nun as translator. The dialogue is hit or miss with Tucker, for the most part, but this exchange was right in his wheelhouse.
When the movie shifts to Paris, Roman Polanski gets "familiar" with the duo as Commissaire Revi. What they insinuate is that this guy likes to perform extensive cavity searches on Americans. IT'S HIS PLEASURE! It's weird. His role in the whole mess is only as a distraction. Instead of doing actual police work he just tries to stop Han and Carter from doing actual police work. Is this how jurisdictions are handled in the real world?
The only other truly entertaining part of the movie comes when Chris Tucker sings Mich---- wait, wait, wait. That's Rush Hour 2. Man, there weren't many great parts of this movie. Lee and Carter do sing "The Closer I Get to You" and, rightfully so, it's interrupted by people trying to kill them. Legendary actor and future/former Three-Eyed Raven Max von Sydow (who plays French Ambassador Varden Reynard) advises them that they are looking for a list. For some reason he's just now giving them this pertinent piece of info.
They find the list is tattooed on the back of a stage performer's head. Sure. They bring the woman and the list back to Reynard, who unsurprisingly reveals himself to be in cahoots with the Triads. I say unsurprisingly because if you've been paying attention to them, the Rush Hour movies always have the same pair of villains. Usually a Chinese guy and an old white dude. Rush Hour: Thomas Griffin (Tom Wilkinson) and Sang (Ken Leung). Rush Hour 2: Steven Reign (Alan King) and Ricky Tan (John Lone). Rush Hour 3: Varden Reynard and Kenji (Hiroyuki Sanada). They stuck to a formula, for sure.
In the last act, (1)Carter somehow successfully disguises himself as the stage performer Genevieve (Noémie Lenoir) in attempts to gain the upper hand during a hostage exchange, (2)he then fights another woman he is attracted to, (3)Lee and Carter use the French flag as a parachute, and (4)a taxi driver who complained about American violence fires the final bullet and saves them. I think it would have been cool if he was an undercover agent or something, but no, just a very normal French cabbie shooting a French Ambassador in the back. Makes sense.
As I stated earlier, Rush Hour 3 is the worst of the bunch. Critically and financially. The movie did its best at trying to be like the others, but it was probably better to leave this one on the shelf. Chris Tucker did no other movies between the first and third Rush Hour, and he's either on cruise control or he went full James Carter. Jackie Chan had some great fight choreography in Rush Hour 2, but they were unable to carry that easy entertainment over to the last installment.
There are still talks of a Rush Hour 4 but no timeline for the movie to be filmed or released. If they make another, it has to be better than this one. I think, for them, making it a trilogy seemed like a no-brainer. As someone who thoroughly enjoyed 1 and 2, I'm not sure how they missed the mark so badly with 3. Let's hope that if they make a fourth, the funniest part isn't the credits.
Rotten Tomatoes: 18%