Creatively, Rush Hour 3 has no reason to exist. Rush Hour 2 pretty much exhausted the limited comic possibilities left in the pairing of Chris Tucker's unstoppable mouth and Jackie Chan's fists of fury. Commercially, of course, it has every reason to exist. Not surprisingly, the bean-counters with pie charts, graphs, and focus-group findings indicating that everyone stands to make a fortune off a second Rush Hour sequel won out. Rush Hour 3 is an awfully spare title for such a big-money enterprise, but an appropriate subtitle like Auto Pilot or Once More For The Cash would have given the game away.
The Tucker-Chan partnership lost its novelty and freshness ages ago, so director Brett Ratner and screenwriter Jeff Nathanson send the stars to Paris in order to get a little cultural friction going. There, Tucker and Chan bully cab drivers and henchmen, frolic and croon at a burlesque show, and battle evil Chinese mobsters. The action and comedy are largely segregated: Tucker riffs and improvises through a series of comic setpieces, while Chan kicks and punches through increasingly non-acrobatic fight scenes. The filmmakers take advantage of their setting with a battery of hoary French stereotypes, most notably a comic-relief cab driver who begins the film sneering belligerently at the United States, but ends it a flag-waving, John Wayne-emulating wannabe American. Living legends Roman Polanski and Max von Sydow have been roped into supporting roles, but this is nevertheless the kind of basic-cable slot-plugger-to-be that audiences forget about even before it's over.
The end-credits outtakes once again provide many, if not all, of the film's highlights. Just a few minutes of Jackie Chan mangling the English language and proposing increasingly perverted—if not downright illegal—pornographic movies to watch on hotel pay-per-view provide more laughter, fun, and energy than the 90 minutes preceding them. Maybe next time, Ratner and company can skip the movie altogether and just run an hour and a half of outtakes. For a series devoted to giving audiences exactly what they want, it'd be pretty damn appropriate.