Far and away the weakest of the summer's endless attack of the "Threequels" (Shrek, Spider-Man, etc), Rush Hour 3 is a noisy, hackneyed, frantic effort to resuscitate a dead horse by kicking it in the balls; it's so lame you'll hate yourself for enjoying it. The original was an amusing guilty pleasure; this installment is mostly guilty, dammed by a host of sins, including cannibalism. Not only are gags repeated from the previous films, some are stolen from vaudeville.
Once again the race card gets overplayed like an X-Box 360 at a frat house, with Chris Tucker strutting and jiving and poor Jackie Chan doing everything but saying "me Chinese, me play joke," fumbling through a script full of the hoariest clichés since hoary clichés were invented. If you took out the swear words and Tucker's head bobs, a lot of this shtick would've done a Bob Hope-Bing Crosby flick proud and before some old fart takes that as a compliment, let me remind you that most of those flicks were tired, crappy sequels too.
Tired? How about this: There's actually a bit involving a Kung Fu master named Yu I am Yu. No, I'm me. Another sees the Tucker-Chan duo split up and they're missing each other; so, for food, Tucker orders moo-shu pork, and Chan orders fried chicken. Jesus.
If nothing else, the sheer comic desperation here will entertain, in the spaces between fight scenes. The plot? As if you care. It involves an assassination attempt, a car chase, the triad, a car chase, explosions and a bald showgirl. It also involves a field trip to Paris, which didn't really work for the Facts of Life girls either, but allows this crew to expand the corny racist humor to include French jokes. Most embarrassing of all is a cameo by Roman Polanski (yes, Polanski) as an overzealous French inspector with a passion for cavity searches.
Don't blame Jackie Chan; he's a legend in Asia but spent 20 years waiting to become an American superstar, and few of his other attempts really said "franchise."
Don't blame Chris Tucker; he's made precisely three pictures since 1998, and they've all had the word "Rush" in the title, for which he's made millions. Don't blame director Brett Ratner; his soulless style of spastic catastrophe ruins franchises (X-Men and Red Dragon, anyone?), so he can be counted on to milk a proven money machine. No, blame yourself if you bought a ticket.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].