In the heart of Paris lies a deadly secret. Half a world away in Los Angeles, Ambassador Han is about to disclose it. In his possession is explosive new evidence about the inner workings of the Triads – the most powerful and notorious crime syndicate in the world. The Ambassador has discovered the identity of Shy Shen, the very crux of the wide-ranging crime ring, and he’s about to reveal it to the World Criminal Court – until he is silenced by an assassin’s bullet.
The Triads will go to any lengths to make sure their secrets stay buried, and there’s only one hope for stopping them.
LAPD Detective Carter (Chris Tucker) and Chinese Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) are back ... back where they don’t belong. 'Rush Hour 3' finds the unlikely duo headed to the City of Lights to stop a global criminal conspiracy and save the life of an old friend, Ambassador Han’s now-grown daughter, Soo Yung.
They don’t know the city, the language or even exactly what they’re looking for, but their race will take them across the city, from the depths of the Paris underground to the breathtaking heights of the Eiffel Tower, as they fight to outrun the world’s most deadly criminals and save the day.
They say good things come in threes, and that certainly is true of certain movie trilogies. Recent three-peats like 'Spider-Man 3,' 'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End' and 'Bourne Ultimatum' are all examples of films that -- whatever their faults may be -- are perfectly respectable sequels that creatively justified themselves beyond their guaranteed box office returns. They were also follow-ups to films that are at least recent enough to retain a hint of relevancy to today's pop culture landscape. But 'Rush Hour 3' comes so long after the first 'Rush Hour' (1998) and 'Rush Hour 2' (2001) that one wonders if today's audiences even remember what the fuss was originally about. This is the kind of movie where kids will have to call up their uncles and ask why Chan and Tucker were worth watching in the first place.
As is often the case with sequels, the story is simply a greatest hits recreation of the first two 'Rush Hour' flicks. In fact, if you've seen the other 'Rush Hour' movies, you already know what happens. Chan stars as the same old Inspector Lee, who we're still supposed to laugh at because he speaks "funny English" while clobbering the bad guys with his ka-ra-te skills, while Tucker is the same old American detective Carter, who still cracks wise in such a high-pitched, shrill voice that he makes Michael Jackson sound butch. Once again, these two mis-matched cops will be thrown together to foil an identi-kit plot, this time involving some sort of assassinated ambassador, a crazy hitman with long-buried ties to Lee's childhood in an orphanage, and the obvious criminal mastermind behind it all who looked suspiciously like the once-great actor Max Von Sydow (until I realized it actually was Max Von Sydow, a long way from his glory days working for Ingmar Bergman).
Like the first two films in the franchise, 'Rush Hour 3' was again directed by Brett Ratner ('Red Dragon,' 'X-Men: The Last Stand') and the film is typical of his soulless approach to franchise moviemaking. The whole affair feels lifeless and phoned-in, with the division of labor totally predictable -- Chan breaks the bones, while Tucker delivers the most painfully stereotypical "urban" humor that even 'Norbit'-era Eddie Murphy wouldn't stoop to. Ratner smothers it all with a generic slickness but there is no real discernible, individual style apparent. The action and comedy are ruthlessly modulated, but where's the spark, the dramatic tension, the sense that anyone really cares one way or another about what's going on in the story? It's all so pointless.
To be fair, as pedestrian as the film may be, 'Rush Hour 3' is not without its minor charms. I particularly liked the fact that although this is technically a film filled with violence, it's of the good-natured and ultimately harmless variety -- not unlike a Road Runner cartoon. Similarly, there remains a playfulness to Chan's love of physical action that's consistently appealing, and even Tucker (as insipid his character may be) is at least never ugly or vulgar.
Still, as inoffensive as it may ultimately be, 'Rush Hour 3' is never anything more than the last dying gasp of a franchise long past its sell-by date. I'll admit that Chan and Tucker's eagerness to please their fanbase makes it difficult to completely despise the film, but the film's utter predictability makes it equally hard to embrace. Clearly nothing more than a paycheck for all involved, 'Rush Hour 3' is as programmed as a theme park ride at Disneyland, and just as forgettable.
New Line may have been a latecomer to the high-def party, but with several superlative Blu-ray transfers under their belt (including 'Hairspray' and 'Pan's Labyrinth'), they're proving that there's something to be said for taking one's time. This is another A-plus effort from the studio -- a 1080p/VC-1 presentation that's pretty close to flawless.
I can't say I'm a huge fan of Brett Ratner's glossy visual style, but it sure comes across smashingly on high-def. The level of detail is truly extraordinary -- textures like hair, fabrics and surfaces have a sense of clarity that's as close to reality as video can get. Colors are just as vibrant and perfectly rendered without bleeding, chroma noise or a loss of detail due to oversaturation. All technical aspects of the source are also first rate, with rock-solid blacks and well-balanced contrast that neither blows out in the whites nor suffers from poor shadow delineation. The image is also very sharp and thankfully free from edginess, so jaggies and halos are not a problem. Add to that a great encode free of artifacts, such as posterization, macroblocking or other motion artifacts, and you have a transfer that's pretty dang sweet.
New Line hasn't skimped on the audio on this disc either, serving up a DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio track in full 7.1 Surround (48kHz/24-bit). Though the film's slapstick action means that the sound design lacks subtlety (it's a bit like being whacked over the head with a banana for 90 minutes), this mix presents it perfectly. (Note that this track appears to have been mixed a louder volume than usual for Blu-ray -- I had to turn down my volume a good -8dB just to normalize.)
The surrounds are almost constantly engaged. If there isn't a car chase or a stunt happening, then the overly-energetic music score or some other barrage of sound is always there to pick up the slack, giving the rears get a real workout. Discrete effects are placed all around the soundfield with note-perfect precision. Pans between channels are especially impressive, with moments where the sound of a skidding car or a "body blow" moves behind the listener with such smoothness that the effect is truly seamless. The "wall of sound" is in full force here, and though this is still 'Rush Hour 3' and not 'Transformers,' that doesn't make this mix any less of a knock out.
Make no mistake -- those without full 7.1 set-ups (and that's probably most people reading this review) will still find plenty to enjoy. Dynamics are quite powerful, with moments of such intense subwoofer action that I'd easily pull out several sequences here and add them to my list of demo disc favorites. Dialogue is well-balanced, and I was shocked I never reached for the volume button on my remote. The score by Lalo Schifrin is also well presented, with excellent bleed throughout the soundfield and a rich, booming presence. Finally, there are no anomalies with the source elements, with every aspect of the mix free of any defects such as scratchy highs or tonal impurities. Like the video, the audio on 'Rush Hour 3' earns top marks.
As if great video and audio weren't enough, New Line has given 'Rush Hour 3' a full two discs of extras, offering up a supplement package that's arguably better than the film deserves. To top it off, New Line presents the entire shebang in full 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 video -- not a single extra here looks anything less than terrific. For my money, New Line is now officially the studio to beat when it comes to producing bonus content that's truly ready for the HD age.
'Rush Hour 3' is one of those frustrating high-def titles to review, because the movie is as bad as the disc is great. This is just a stupid and lazy sequel that has no reason to exist other than the fact that the filmmakers and studio all needed a hit to fatten their bank accounts. A Blu-ray release, however, this one simply hits it out of the park -- both the video and audio are five-star, while the extras are way better than the film deserves. If you are a 'Rush Hour 3' fan, by all means pick this one up. All others, you've been warned...