Growing up, my father made me watch every Jackie Chan movie ever made. While other children were watching Blue’s Clues and The Rugrats, I watched Jackie Chan expel bad guys with flying kicks and lightning speed in movies like Operation Condor and Drunken Master. I never understood anything the characters were saying; all of our Jackie Chan movies were in Chinese. It wasn’t until I was much older that I got to witness his acting abilities in English and, let me tell you, he has none. But most of the time, his fantastic stunts make you forgive him. Jackie Chan has amazing physical abilities. He climbs up twelve foot walls. He propels himself from helicopters. He fights guys underwater amidst great white sharks. But not this time. Not in Rush Hour 3.
Let’s face it: Mr. Chan is getting old. He can no longer jump across rooftops without a harness or walk on burning coals with his bare feet. This fact is painfully apparent in Rush Hour 3. Instead of performing his breath-taking stunts, Jackie Chan attempts to do what he cannot: act. His poor English makes for awkward onscreen conversation with Chris Tucker and his stunts are completely absent from the movie. The most impressive physical endeavor in the entire movie is when Chan and Tucker hang on to opposite ends of a fighting staff while a massive karate instructor swings them around. It is a far cry from the days of Rumble in the Bronx when Chan could get run over by a hovercraft and still return a baby safely to its mother, all in the span of ten seconds.
While the stunts in Rush Hour 3 are underwhelming, the plot is overwhelming and overworked. It is so confusing that I will not even attempt to explain it to you. All you need to know is that it involves:
a) Ambassador Han (played by the guy from the original Rush Hour)
b) An evil “sort-of” brother named Kenji
c) Chinese assassins that speak French
d) A lady with a list tattooed on the back of her head that documents all criminal leaders in the Triads
e) An evil French chap
f) An older Soo-Yung (Ambassador Han’s little girl who isn’t so little anymore)
Confused? You should be.
The acting in Rush Hour 3 is about as good as the haphazard stunts. In addition to Jackie Chan’s poor performance, Chris Tucker’s comedic role in the film utterly fails. Most of his jokes are much too over the top. For instance, Tucker’s character arrests a woman on the street and proceeds to tell her that she’s too fat. The woman replies, “I have a thyroid problem.” Tucker’s response? “Well stop eating so much thyroid!” Film director Brett Ratner also tried to appeal to a more international audience and brought in an apparently well-known actress from China to play the beloved character of Soo-Young. This lady from China, much like Chan, cannot speak English. In her case it is almost unbearable to watch her struggle with the cue cards behind the camera. In the movie, Soo-Young is supposed to be a butt-kicking karate student. If you’ve seen the original Rush Hour, you know that little Soo-Young had some moves. She almost took out her kidnapper with a tiny gold necklace! Yet, in Rush Hour 3, Soo-Young has become a complete wuss and can barely deliver an effective-looking punch. Though the actress-lady from China is popular in Asian countries overseas, she most certainly can’t have a career in America.
Rush Hour 3 is a movie that should have never been made. Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan are way past their prime. As a comedic actor, Tucker is no longer funny. In his old age, Chan can no longer perform the stunts that have made him famous. Though I grew up watching Jackie Chan movies, my love for him cannot endure the torture that is Rush Hour 3. If only my father had shielded me from violent movies as a child, I would have never felt the disappointment of Chan’s decline in the action world.