December 30, 2007

DVD Review: Rush Hour 3

The first Rush Hour helped reinvigorate the buddy movie way back in 1998. It was a fun play on East meets West. Jackie Chan was on top of the world and Chris Tucker was a rising star. The second film, in 2001, continued the trend, making the story a bit more global and amping up the qualities that made the first one so enjoyable, and, for the most part, it worked. Going by the developing Rush Hour formula it would seem to be a logical assumption that the third one would be just as much fun. After watching it, I have to wonder just where did they go wrong? By all accounts there is really no good reason why this shouldn't be good, or at the very least entertaining. No one will ever confuse the Rush Hour franchise with great art, but I have a feeling whatever legacy it wanted to leave is just a little bit tarnished with this third outing.

It is typical that any franchise that reaches a third film will begin to exhibit diminishing returns (there are exceptions to every rule, but by and large it seems to hold up). The diminishing returns reared its ugly head early and often in Rush Hour 3. More than anything else, I think that they waited way too long to make this movie. It has been six years since the second film was a huge hit (fifth biggest moneymaker of the year). The further away from the last outing, the less relevant any future films become and for a franchise like this, six years is a big ocean to cross. Another impediment to success has to be Chris Tucker, himself. He is probably a nice guy, I have nothing against him, but most people seem to have a love/hate relationship with his screen presence. To some he is eminently annoying and others think he is hilarious. I used to like him, but since Rush Hour 2 he has done nothing on the big screen and the short and fickle memory of Hollywood seems to have moved on.

What else is wrong with the movie? It is just flat out not good. I do not mean to sound blunt, but the story flounders and does not hold up upon any type of close inspection. Plot threads are brought up and abandoned as out heroic duo careen wildly through the streets of Paris.

Initially, the plot has the dynamic duo (reunited by pure coincidence) tracking down the killer of Jackie's superior, Ambassador Han. Before long it translates into stopping the Triads in Paris. I don't know. It just does not flow all that well. I probably could have overlooked this if the performances and action were fun, but even that failed to deliver.

Chris Tucker has not grown at all as a performer, in fact he may have regressed. His onscreen persona consists primarily of yelling unfunny one-liners that land with a thud. He is loud, obnoxious, and just really annoying. Take, for example, the early scene in the dojo. It features Tucker at his worst, culminating with a riff on Abbott and Costello's classic "Who's on First" routine. As for Jackie Chan? I love Jackie Chan and he can still put it all out there. However, he just looks tired here, as if he really doesn't want to be there.

You know, I was willing to give this a shot. I did not particularly care for it when I saw it on the big screen. I went into my DVD viewing thinking that time may have softened my reaction. Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be the case. Sure, I have seen worse films, this is not a complete waste. Still, I cannot in good conscience recommend this film as anything more than a rental.

Audio/Video. Technically, there are no complaints from me. The anamorphic transfer is crisp, clean, and the colors are nice and sharp. Likewise, the 5.1 audio mix sounds fine. Although, I wonder what they mean by this on the audio setup screen: "Audio optimized for DVD, No re-equalization required." There are three available tracks Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, DTS-EX, and 6.1, and Stereo Surround.

Extras. This film is being released in both a single disk and 2-Disk Platinum Series editions.
  • Disk 1/Single disk edition:
  • Commentary. The track features director Brett Ratner and writer Jeff Nathansan. It is an interesting track and the duo have plenty to say about the making of he film and how proud they are of it (they never let you miss their favorite scenes).
  • Theatrical Trailer. The original trailer is included.
  • Disk 2:
  • Outtakes. This is your standard collection of goofed lines and flubbed action. (2.5 minutes)
  • Deleted/Alternate Scenes. These scenes can be played with an optional commentary track. Nothing earth shattering, although there is a funny extended version of the elevator scene and an alternate ending that I kind of liked. (7 minutes)
  • Making Rush Hour 3. This is a rather all-inclusive section, broken down into The Story, The Script, Casting the Rush, Teaming Up, Creating thr Rush: Scene by Scene (further broken down into a number of scenes from the film), Cuts, Sound, and Music. This is actually pretty good and has a lot of information on the making of the film that actually makes the film look good. (90 minutes)
  • Visual Effects Reel. This has some of the pre-visualization sequences using digital models. It shows the different layers that went into making some of the squences, particularly the fight on the Eiffel Tower. (right next to this option is a 5 second clip of the fight with lightsabers) (2 minutes)
  • "Le Rush Hour Trois" Production Diary. I believe these began life as webisodes building towards the film release. These have plenty of on and around the set footage, ending with footage from the premiere. (65 minutes)

Bottomline. Go ahead rent it, have some fun with friends on a boring night, just do not have any expectations that it will come anywhere near the first two. The story is not solid and the performances are weak. Still, you could do worse.

Not Recommended.


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