Thursday, 14 August 2008

Rush Hour 3

Lowdown: A remake of the first Rush Hour.
The first Rush Hour was an excellent film. True, it didn’t break new ground in the art of cinema, but it had a fine mixture of action scenes and good jokes that blended together to create simple yet superb entertainment. Personally, it was the film that first made me love Jackie Chan in the sense that it made me appreciate Chan as a great entertainer. Question is, following its rather disappointing sequel, can Rush Hour 3 make amends and properly revive the series?
On the face of it, the odds against RH3 are immense. It’s not just another sequel; it’s almost ten years now since the first hour rushed. Chan, for example, isn’t getting any younger; there are more cuts in his stunts than ever before now, with some typical signs of not-so-great action movie making obviously visible: Chan falls, a cut comes in just before he hits the ground, and the next thing we know Chan is up on his feet. Chris Tucker, Chan’s partner in crime (they’re both policemen), has put many a kilo since their last time together, too. Rush Hour 3 could have well been a geriatric’s reunion.
As with the previous two Rush Hours, number 3’s plot is as contrived as and as senseless as. It doesn’t even try to get away with it; it is in your face senseless. The film starts with Tucker being fired from the police force, and the next thing we know he’s on a plane next to Chan as they fly to Paris to save the day from a Chinese crime syndicate – while carrying guns on board the flights. Senselessness is even more obvious at an earlier scene where Chan and Tucker visit a kung-fu school to acquire information from friendlies and just seem to be forced into a fight with the locals through a stubbornly lackluster script.
In fact, there’s not much use in me recounting Rush Hour’s plot in the first place; it’s only there as a cheap excuse to put Chan and Tucker in funny situations that challenge Chan’s physical skills and Tucker’s big mouth.
Still, with all of its deficiencies, Rush Hour 3 does make amends for the series and does end up being good light entertainment. The filmmakers managed to achieve that by doing something very simple: copying the first Rush Hour almost one to one, with the notable difference of setting some significant parts of the film in Paris. The crime victims are actually the same people from the first film (only older), and the villain – although different – fits just perfectly to the template set by Tom Wilkinson as the first film’s villain.
And you know what? It just works, because at the base of it all Chan is still an incredible action performer, as is obvious from the film’s numerous action scenes, and Tucker is still very funny, as is also obvious from the film’s numerous action scenes. Let loose to do their stuff under very simple premises, like they did in the first Rush but like they didn’t in the second, they come up with the goods.
Best scenes:
It’s hard to choose between the candidates, so I’ll just call several best scenes.
First there are the scenes featuring Roman Polanski’s cameos. It’s hard to believe it’s the same guy that did The Pianist, but yes, he made me laugh even before he started doing anything.
Second, there is the scene in involving the French taxi driver escorting our couple around Paris. The guy envies Chan and Tucker and wishes to learn how to become American and kill people. So much so, he says, that he even drinks Starbucks shit! Coming shortly after Starbucks decided to call Australia quits and close most of its eighty plus Australian branches, one can easily identify with the joke: Australians seem to agree with the French when it comes to the quality of coffee served at Starbucks.
Overall: Who cares about originality and substance when a good laugh is at hand? 3 enjoyable stars out of 5.

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