What we’ve got here is a nasty case of the Sequels. Rush Hour, the original Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker vehicle, was a fun action-comedy with an amusing twist on the buddy-cop genre. Rush Hour 2 was a re-hash, bigger but not better, but still worth a rent. Six years later, Rush Hour 3 proves the third time is definitely not the charm, with 121 minutes of recycled gags, bad acting and uninspiring action.
This two-disc release may be a top-notch DVD, but I certainly hope you don’t get suckered by a nice transfer, good audio and a whole whack of extras. No matter how well you dress it up, this film’s a walking, talking turd.
Several years have passed in the Rush Hour world since the series’ second installment. James Carter (Chris Tucker, The Fifth Element), once an LAPD detective, has been demoted to traffic-cop duties. Chief Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan, Rumble in the Bronx) is working as a bodyguard for Chinese Ambassador Han, who has been asked to lead the fight against the Chinese Triad, the world’s largest and most deadly criminal organization. When Han is nearly assassinated during a speech at the World Court, moments before revealing the identity and location of the Triad’s secretive list of its leaders, Lee and Carter find themselves back in action against another group of deadly foes. Together, they must go to Paris to take on the Triad before they can make a successful second attempt on Han’s life.
So, yeah, Rush Hour 3 is basically “Tucker and Chan Go to Paris.” The plot is pretty inconsequential, though, since this series has always been about the action and the comedy. Unfortunately, both aspects pale in comparison to even the hit-and-miss Rush Hour 2. The jokes are either stale, dumb or blatant ripoffs of better material. The action sequences, while not entirely without merit, just don’t have the energy and excitement we’re used to from Chan and Tucker. They feel choppy and over-rehearsed.
The biggest problem with this film, however, is a one-two combination of an atrocious script and a terrible actor. After watching Rush Hour 3, I’m convinced Chris Tucker is the most annoying man on the planet. Where in the original Rush Hour Tucker was outrageous and amusing, he’s now obnoxious and aggravating. It doesn’t help that many of his lines are some of the worst I’ve heard in any film this decade — the painful script magnifies the man’s annoyance by a factor of at least 17, subjecting audiences to unbelievably bad dialogue that ruins all but the film’s finest moments, which are generally when Tucker shuts up for a few seconds.
I watch a lot of movies, and I don’t mind the odd bad experience. Sometimes it’s fun to watch a lame popcorn flick and revel in the mediocrity of Hollywood. Not so for Rush Hour 3. It took me two tries to get through this movie, having turned if off 20 minutes in the first time around because I just couldn’t stand to watch another second. It wasn’t any better a few days later, but I persevered by rolling my eyes and groaning a lot.
There is, however, one small, shining light at the end of this tunnel. When the end credits roll, you can enjoy another round of outtakes, which are by far the most enjoyable part of the entire franchise.
So Rush Hour 3 is a far cry from the original and hopefully the last of the series. How’s the DVD set?
Rush Hour 3 (2-Disc Platinum Series) is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen format. Though it’s a waste of a good transfer, the film looks pretty great on DVD. It’s a big-budget production, with plenty of interesting set pieces and locations, and everything is nicely detailed. Colours are vibrant and fairly natural, contrast levels are very good and there are no compression issues or nagging source artifacts, unless you want to get really picky about a bit of grain in some of the shots in the night sequences. Rush Hour 3, the worst film of the series, is the best-looking installment thus far.
The main audio presentation is Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, and like the video, it’s top-notch. The film is packed with action, stunts, car chases, gun fights and even a couple of musical numbers. It all sounds very good, with well-balanced mix that will keep your system busy for much of the film’s 121-minute running time. Dialogue is always perfectly audible, effects are detailed and the score and soundtrack sound lively without being overbearing. Sadly, a good mix means you’ll hear Chris Tucker’s annoying voice loud and clear from the opening credits onward.
Audio is also available in French, while subtitles are offered in English, French and Japanese.
I’ve consistently been impressed by New Line’s Platinum Series releases, and Rush Hour 3 is no exception. If you’re a fan of the film (shame on you), you’ll be happy to check out this set’s exhaustive extras. Here’s the breakdown:
- Audio commentary: by director Brett Ratner and writer Jeff Nathanson. The only thing worse than watching Rush Hour 3 is watching it with these two clowns chirping away as if they’ve made a good movie.
- Outtakes: running about 2.5 minutes, these are not a repeat of the end credits bloopers, but they’re also not as amusing.
- Deleted/Extended scenes: nearly 10 minutes’ worth, with optional commentary. The most interesting item here is an alternate ending, though it would have made the film even worse.
- Making Rush Hour 3: at 87 minutes, this feature-length documentary is longer than the main film. As you’d expect, it covers pretty much every aspect of the film’s creation in at least minor detail, though there’s definite emphasis on the main action sequences.
- Digital Effects Reel: a two-minute featurette offering a short glimpse into the film’s digital enhancements. Turns out they weren’t actually fighting on top of the Eiffel Tower. Who knew?
- Le Rush Hour Trois – Production Diaries: positioned as director Brett Ratner’s production diary, this hour-long feature follows Ratner around handy-cam style from day 1 to wrap. It jumps around a lot, but fans will probably get a kick out of it.
- Theatrical trailer: finally, the film’s original trailer is available for your viewing pleasure. Note it contains all of the good jokes.
I really enjoyed Rush Hour, liked Rush Hour 2 and couldn’t stand Rush Hour 3. This is a classic example of a Hollywood cash-in franchise, and while this 2-disc Platinum Series DVD is a job well done by New Line, no amount of extra features or bombastic audio can save a crappy film. Not recommended for purchase or rent.