Friday, August 10, 2007

RUSH HOUR 3: Stuck in Deja Vu Jam

RUSH HOUR 3 (comedy)

Cast: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Hiroyuki Sanada and Max Von Sydow
Director: Brett Ratner
Time: 92 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? You know you are going to be stuck in a déjà vu standstill the moment this movie opens – with Chris Tucker mucking around in his ridiculous comedy shtick as a traffic cop in downtown Los Angeles. Tucker is so over-the-top as former detective James Carter that he is more of a pain-in-the-butt than comic relief. Problem is, there is no letting up on the Tucker nonsense all through this movie.
This is a pity because Tucker had been the ‘fun guy’ attraction of his ‘ying-yang’ partnership with Jackie Chan in first two movies. Now, after a six-year gap, he almost turns "Rush Hour 3" into a wreck.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? This second sequel has Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) playing bodyguard to Chinese Ambassador Han (Tzi Ma) at a World Criminal Court conference in L.A. when the envoy is shot while presenting his speech. The culprit is Kenji (Hiroyuki Sanada), a member of an international triad – and someone who had been rather close to Lee.
Carter takes it upon himself to help Lee track down the gang, embodied in an elusive clue called Shy Shen. The mission takes them to Paris where the hapless duo muck around in the city’s sewers, cabaret nightspots and even the top of the Eiffel Tower, ostensibly to provide the mandatory Jackie Chan stunts.

HIGHS & LOWS: Except for a stunt sequence involving a gang of motor-bikers and a French taxi, most of the action scenes fall flat – thanks to shoddy choreography and an anaemic script. Yes, we see Lee and Kenji facing off each other in a sword fight but we know that neither of them is going to kill each other. We see veteran thespian Max Von Sydow as a French Foreign Minister and we can safely predict how he would turn out to be in the plot mechanics. Even director Roman Polanski, who has a cameo as a sadistic French cop, fails to provide the movie the extra star-power that it desperately needs.
Sure, Brett Ratner, who has helmed the previous movies, throws in lots of eye candy in the form of scantily-clad Folies-Bergeres ladies and even a femme fatale (Noemie Lenoir as Geneviere) as a one-night stand for Carter. However, the excitement dissipates as soon as these scenes are over. There is precious little in the way of freshness or wit in this effort and we are left to tolerate the ramblings of motor-mouthed Tucker most of the time.
Arguably, Ratner and his screenwriters seem to have hurt the image of the French and they make up for this with a subplot about George (Yves Attal), the heroic Parisian cabbie who helps Lee and Carter escape their enemies. The subplot may appear rather contrived, as is everything in the movie, but it should help give the movie a boost at the French box-office.

THE LOWDOWN: Unlike Bruce Willis in "Die Hard 4.0", the "Rush Hour" franchise now looks like it is caught in a standstill. It is time for Chan and Tucker to say ‘adieu’ to each other and go their separate ways.


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