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Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007 09:01 pm

Third time, still a charm

Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan chart familiar territory

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Rush Hour 3 Running time 1:31 Rated PG-13 ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East
Untitled Document I’ve seen it twice before, and yet I want to see it again. The folks at New Line Cinema are counting on the fact that millions of other moviegoers will feel the same way about Rush Hour 3, and they’ve invested quite a bit of upfront cash to reunite Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, and director Brett Ratner. Tucker’s salary alone was rumored to be $25 million, which means that Chan’s and Ratner’s paydays were in the same ballpark. With that sort of investment, you can bet that few artistic chances will be taken and that every proven plot point will be hit hard, again and again. The bottom line is that if you liked the first two installments in this moneymaking machine, chances are, you won’t be disappointed with this entry, which delivers the brand of action and comedy we’ve come to expect from this trio with the same degree of enthusiasm and fun that made the films international hits. One thing you can say about Ratner is that he hits the ground running here, successfully alternating between action scenes and comedic exchanges between the two stars, barely allowing the audience to catch its breath. The film opens with Detective James Carter (Tucker) busted down to the lowly position of traffic cop and Chief Inspector Lee (Chan) responsible for protecting the Chinese ambassador who’s making an appearance before the World Criminal Court. As Carter learns that grooving to Prince on an iPod while directing traffic is a recipe for disaster, Lee finds himself in pursuit of a deadly assassin who has attempted to shoot the ambassador. Globetrotting soon ensues as the wisecracking duo learn from the head of the WCC, Varden Reynard (Max Von Sydow, also showing up for a big paycheck), that the crime syndicate known as the Triad is behind the assassination attempt, that the ambassador’s daughter is also being targeted, and that Raynard is taking her to Paris for her protection. Lee and Carter also hit the City of Light, where they find themselves constantly trying to outrun the Triad’s goons while searching for a list that names the heads of this organization, which just happens to be in the possession of sexy chanteuse Genevieve (Noémie Lenoir).
Plot is inconsequential here; the action and laughs take center stage. Although it’s obvious that Chan has lost a step or three, he’s still able to jump, kick, and chop with the best of them, and the film’s climax, involving a swordfight on the Eiffel Tower, is a true showstopper. Meanwhile, Tucker comes off as some sort of career genius here. Although he’s been criticized for working so infrequently (his last film being Rush Hour 2, six years ago), these self-imposed exiles prevent his act from getting old. His appearance seems like a visit from an old friend, and his distinctive personality and comic timing help elevate this material from the mundane to the entertaining. Surprisingly, Rush Hour 3 delivers more bang for the buck than any other movie released this summer. With an extended action scene almost every 10 minutes and effective comic banter interspersed throughout, Ratner has delivered the crowd-pleaser that New Line was banking on. High art? Afraid not. Entertaining? Without question, and, chances are, Chan’s and Tucker’s fans will be more than happy to see them again.
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