Blu-ray
Bad Flick, Good Disc
4 stars
List Price
$19.98
Amazon
$9.00 (55%)
3rd Party
$1.50
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»
Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
1.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
5 Stars
Supplements
3.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
1 Stars
Bottom Line
Bad Flick, Good Disc

Rush Hour 3

Street Date:
December 23rd, 2007
Reviewed by:
Peter Bracke
Review Date: 1
January 7th, 2008
Movie Release Year:
2007
Studio:
New Line Home Entertainment
Length:
90 Minutes
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

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.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

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.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

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.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

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.

  • Documentary: "Making Rush Hour 3" (HD, 94 minutes) - As long as the movie itself, this comprehensive doc covers the entire production of 'Rush Hour 3' from top to bottom. Divided into four parts ("The Story: The Script," "Casting the Rush: Teaming Up," "Creating the Rush," "Cuts, Sounds and Music"), all of the principals are interviewed (including Brett Ratner, Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker), and the editing of extensive behind-the-scenes material is top-notch. The doc does occasionally lapse into one giant mutual admiration society, but there's still enough genuine meat on this one's bones to make it well worth watching.
  • Production Diary: "Le Rush Hour Trois" (HD, 62 minutes) - Desperately in need of some editorial guidance, this video diary is divided into 25 little pieces, some so short they last for only seconds. This one's beyond fly-on-the-wall -- it's all-over-the-place, and I found it to be the equivalent of getting documentary whiplash. Still, there are some good nuggets to be found, particularly Ratner having a couple of entertainingly bad days on the set, some cool stunt footage, and various screen test excerpts. I don't know if casual fans really need to watch this one (especially since that the documentary is more than enough on its own terms), but it's a nice addition nevertheless.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 8 minutes) - A mix of brief extensions and brand-new scenes, there's nothing all that exciting here -- no major plot developments, and no new action scenes. At least the scenes look and sound terrific (they're presented in full DTS-HD MA 7.1 Surround audio), and Ratner and screenwriter Jeff Nathanson offer optional commentary on all of 'em.
  • Outtakes Reel (HD, 3 minutes) - Short but (not entirely) sweet, this is a bunch of flubs and gaffes, usually Chan attempting to speak English or falling on his arse. Considering the combined star wattage of Chan and Tucker, I would have hoped for something a lot funnier.
  • Visual Effects Reel (HD, 3 minutes) - Also a bit of a yawner, this short deconstruction shows how the climactic Eiffel Tower sequence was conceived, using split screen, miniature and CGI animatics.
  • Audio Commentary - Wrapping up the standard supplements is a commentary with Ratner and Nathanson that is an audio-only version of the video commentary included here as a Blu-ray exclusive. (For more on the contents of this track, see the "HD Bonus Content" section below.)

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

In addition to the nice suite of extras ported over from the standard DVD, New Line has also included an additional exclusive just for Blu-ray fans...

  • Visual Commentary - Based on its title, you might expect this one to be the equivalent of an "In-Movie Experience" interactive making-of, but it's not. Instead, it's simply a videotaped version of the audio commentary track with director Brett Ratner and screenwriter Jeff Nathanson (ie: two guys sitting in chairs, talking during the whole movie in a little picture box). That doesn't automatically make this a bad track, but it's certainly a lackluster experience visually. As for the discussion itself, Ratner is generally affable, while Nathanson seems to take this silly movie seriously. Much of the same ground covered in the doc is discussed here, including snagging Chris Tucker out of retirement, "perfecting" the story, coordinating the stunts, and even landing a last-minute cameo by a certain Oscar-winning director. All in all, a decent commentary, but hardly one that needed a visual component, nor one that's really worth watching unless you happen to be a die-hard 'Rush Hour' fan.

Easter Eggs

We've found one easter egg (so far) on 'Rush Hour 3.'

On the second disc, go to the Special Features menu, and highlight "Visual Effects Reel." Hit the Up button on your remote, and an icon will appear. Click Enter, and watch a 5-second gag clip of Jackie Chan and Hiroyuki Sanada fighting on the Eiffel tower with lightsabers.

(Special thanks to AppleSpider for the tip!)

Final Thoughts

'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...

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray
  • BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc/BD-25 Single-Layer Disc
  • Two-Disc Set

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/VC-1

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.35:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 7.1 Surround

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH
  • Spanish Subtitles

Supplements

  • Audio Commentary
  • Documentaries
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes

Exclusive HD Content

  • Video Commentary

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.

List Price
$19.98
Amazon
$9.00 (55%)
3rd Party
$1.50
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»