Brett Ratner | 84 mins | TV | 2.35:1 | Germany & USA / English | 12 / PG-13
Belated sequels are often the worst kind, an actor/director/studio returning to past glories in the hope of creating new success. Even when they work, they’re not a patch on the original. (I’m sure there must be exceptions, but nothing comes to mind.) The third entry in the Rush Hour series was moderately belated (it was released six years after Rush Hour 2), but, perhaps more significantly for this review, it’s the best part of a decade since I watched the other two. I enjoyed them back then, but after a significant period of growing up, I have no idea if I’d be so fond now. The other point of that is, I don’t think I can accurately say if Rush Hour 3 matches, surpasses or falls short of the quality of the other two.
Judged in its own right, then, it’s a film of variable quality. The plot jumps around tenuously, an excuse to string together acrobatic action sequences and stale comedy routines — one involves two Chinese characters named Yu and Me. Imagine the hilarity. It does manage a few good gags, now and then, but it’s not one to watch for consistent laughs.
It’s ostensibly a thriller (albeit a comedy-action-thriller) and so there are plot twists, but they’re wholly predictable. It also lacks clarity in its villain, I felt — who it is, what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and so on. It weakens the film, especially the ending: there’s the usual big action climax, followed by a little bit of business that dilutes the impact of the ending. It’s just badly structured.
Ratner’s direction lacks total competency. Never mind allowing unfunny routines to run too long — or meritless ideas to even be included — his framing is off at times, making his 2.35:1 frame sometimes look cropped from something taller, sometimes something even wider. It’s kind of impressive, in a bad way. Jackie Chan’s fights are mostly well shot though, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the man himself had a hand in that.
Those fights aren’t amongst Chan’s best action sequences, but they’re still quite entertaining. I love sword fights and I love Chan’s acrobatic choreography, so a climax combining the two — plus some sparing atop the Eiffel Tower (or, I presume, a surprisingly good set thereof) — is occasionally spectacular and single-handedly almost justifies the entire film’s existence. A car chase/fight through the streets of Paris is the other best bit, buoyed by both unusual choreography and Yvan Attal’s French taxi driver George, who’s probably the film’s best character.
Rush Hour 3 isn’t a good film — it’s too inconsistent, too indulgent, too unfocussed in its storytelling — but it has some fun bits, mainly thanks to Jackie Chan. If only for some of his bits, I’m glad I bothered with it.
Rush Hour 3 is on Channel 4 tonight at 9:45. Which is a coincidence because I was going to post this review anyway.