A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this third installment in the Rush Hour franchise is a lot like the first two. It's got lots of extremely boisterous comic violence, with a mix of martial arts, slapstick, and shoot-'em-up aesthetics that sometimes leads to bloodied faces and painfully twisted bodies. Motor-mouthed co-star Chris Tucker's brand of verbal comedy includes plenty of sexual references and dicey language that seems designed to get around the PG-13 rating (for example: referring to, but not saying, the "N" word and cutting off "motherf--" before it's finished). A French detective conducts anal probes of Carter and Lee when they arrive in Paris (off-screen), leaving them in some visible pain. Supporting characters smoke cigarettes and drink, and a brief, unconsummated sex scene shows Carter in bed (naked chest) with a woman in her bra and panties. Frequent language includes variations on "s--t," "damn," and "ass."
What's the story?
Like the original Rush Hour, RUSH HOUR 3 finds perennial LAPD muck-up Carter (Chris Tucker) joining forces with Chinese Chief Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan), even though they're barely able to understand each another. This time, following the shooting of Ambassador Han (Tzi Ma, who was also in the first film), the guys make their way to Paris, a stronghold for Chinese Triad gangs. Supposedly there to protect World Criminal Court chief General Reynard (Max von Sydow), the duo indulges in one raucous scene after another. Not incidentally, they also end up saving two beautiful women, Han's daughter Soo Yung (Jingchu Zhang) and model-singer-gambler Genevieve (Noémie Lenoir). The action is non-stop and includes several urban chase scenes, martial arts slapstick (one pits Carter and Lee against real-life 7'9" basketball player Sun Ming Ming, here a lumbering bodyguard), and shootouts in a hospital and a nightclub. Both characters embody Carter's generally anti-French sentiments (when he meets an "Asian" who speaks French, he instructs, "Stop humiliating yourself!"). Initially dismissive of Yankees ("You lost in Vietnam, you lost in Iraq," he sniffs), George is soon won over by Carter and Lee's thrilling chaos in the form of the car chases and guns.
Is it any good?
Rush Hour 3 doesn't swerve from director Brett Ratner's now-trite formula: The buddies fight, bond, trade japes, rescue beautiful women, and fight off expert killers. In the original Rush Hour, the jokes about cultural ignorance were obvious, but the charismatic players brought different skills to the movie: Chan the inventive martial artist and Tucker the motor mouth. Two films later, the combination is tired; unfortunately but not unexpectedly, the best material (once again) appears in the outtakes at the end.
In once scene, George says, he knows what it means to be an American: to "kill people for no reason." Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but compared to the rest of the film's relentless repetitions -- the fights, stunts, and jokes all start to blend together -- George at least emerges as a character with an arc. Everyone else appears to be running, jumping, and screaming in place.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Lee and Carter's loyal, cross-cultural friendship. Why is so much of the movie's humor based on differences in characters' cultures and backgrounds? Is Carter's ignorance really funny, or do the jokes seem forced? Why? How does this movie compare to the first two? Does the series' "formula" still work? What changes would you make if you were the director? Families can also discuss how the film represents women -- what roles do Soo Yung, Genevieve, and Jasmine fill?
- In theaters: August 9, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: December 23, 2007
- Cast: Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, Max von Sydow
- Director: Brett Ratner
- Studio: New Line
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of action violence, sexual content, nudity and language.
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