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Rush Hour 3

New Line Cinema

Review in A Hurry:  For a big-budget action franchise, Rush Hour 3 delivers on what it promises: Impressive stunts, decent laughs, energetic pace and Roman Polanski. Yes. Roman Polanski.

Bigger Picture:  The best part about Rush Hour 3 is its honesty. The film does not try to be anything beyond a lighthearted action ride. It knows its limitations and sticks to what works: politically incorrect racial humor, Jackie Chan’s earnest and awesome kung fu moves and Chris Tucker’s motor-mouth spewing one-liners without pause.

After an assassination attempt on the Chinese ambassador by the superbly dressed Chinese mafia, our ever-so-zany odd couple of crime fighters chase the culprits through the L.A. streets during...wait for it...rush hour! Eventually, the case leads them to France. And once our heroes hit the City of Light, the tired East vs. West culture-clash humor shifts to a French vs. American rivalry. This is done with all the jingoism and subtlety you would expect from a Brett Ratner movie. Nevertheless, the gimmick works. The duo has to contend with a snooty police chief (Polanski), an ever-present brooding cab driver who initially condemns Americans as insatiable killers but eventually begs to join the team (proving his worthiness by wearing a Lakers cap) and, of course, the ancient Chinese crime ring who enjoy throwing knives at people while dressing like they’re on Miami Vice.

After 10 years on the scene, it appears that director Brett Ratner likes to play God. With one hand he smites and destroys the beloved X-Men franchise and with the other he resurrects and elevates the dying Rush Hour. Sure, the jokes are crude and the plot is goofy, but Chan and Tucker have such a delightful rapport that they come close to perfecting the buddy-cop genre. Their genial banter and obvious affection for each other radiates so brightly that the film’s missteps and absurdities are obscured.  

The 180—a Second Opinion:  Ethnic studies majors beware! If you like your comedies consistent with politically correct speech codes then Rush Hour 3 will most likely make blood shoot directly out of your eyeballs with outrage.