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Rush Hour 3: New Line 2-Disc Platinum Series DVD Review

Rush Hour 3 movie poster Rush Hour 3

Theatrical Release: August 10, 2007 / Running Time: 91 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Brett Ratner

Cast: Chris Tucker (Detective James Carter), Jackie Chan (Chief Inspector Lee), Max von Sydow (Varden Reynard), Hiroyuki Sanada (Kenji), Yvan Attal (George), Youki Kudoh (Dragon Lady), Noemie Lenoir (Genevieve), Zhang Jingchu (Soo Yung), Tzi Ma (Ambassador Han), Dana Ivey (Sister Agnes), Henry O. (Master Yu), Mia Tyler (Marsha), Michael Chow (Chinese Foreign Minister), David Niven, Jr. (British Foreign Minister), Oanh Nguyen (Mi), Andrew Quang (Kung Fu Kid), Sun Ming Ming (Kung Fu Giant), Roman Polanski (Detective Revi, uncredited), Philip Baker Hall (Captain William Diel, uncredited)

Buy Rush Hour 3 from Amazon.com: 2-Disc Platinum Series DVD 1-Disc DVD Rush Hour Trilogy DVD Gift Set Blu-ray Disc


By Aaron Wallace

Nine years after Rush Hour introduced Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan as Hollywood's newest coupling of mismatched crime-fighters, the duo teamed back up for a third adventure this year in Rush Hour 3. Despite tepid critical reaction to each, the first film grossed $244 million worldwide and Rush Hour 2 raked in $347 million. Those substantial sums place the movies among recent history's most successful action-comedies and made a third installment inevitable.
Unfortunately, Rush Hour 3 lost much of the meager critical support its predecessors had and despite a staggering increase in budget ($140 million compared to $90 for the second film and $33 for the first) fell far below Rush Hour 2's box office success. Nevertheless, Rush Hour 3 easily passed the coveted $100 million mark at the US box office and, I'm pleased to report, for good reason.

The third film finds Carter (Tucker) and Lee (Chan) partnering under another set of unexpected circumstances; namely, the assassination of a character from the first movie. Tied up in the killing is the World Criminal Court's quest to determine the makeup of a secretive criminal network. When Carter and Lee pledge to uncover the motive for the assassination and identify the killer, they unwittingly involve themselves in the Court's mission, effectively squaring them in more than a few enemy crosshairs. Of course, that's nothing new for the tag team policemen but the unwelcome arrival of Lee's nefarious brother adds a few more thorns to the hedge.

For a third time in 9 years, Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker play Inspector Lee and Detective Carter, an odd couple of colleagues/cops/friends. The mysterious Dragon Lady (Youki Kudoh) shows Lee a not so attractive wild side in her hotel bedroom.

Rush Hour 3 is best described as an action-comedy, where the comedy holds more value than the action. Tucker and Chan make the movie, bringing to life an odd couple friendship that the viewer wants to be part of. Tucker is particularly funny, seizing every opportunity to show off his signature brand of fast-talking commentary. Chan isn't as laugh-out-loud hilarious, but his good-guy performance lends Lee a sincere likeability, ensuring that he isn't overshadowed by Carter. Together, they make up one of the brightest comedy alliances in Hollywood today, perhaps aided by the fact that whether together or apart, they make only occasional appearances in American theaters and remain fresh a decade later accordingly.

The Rush Hour premise stands out from other, less memorable buddy cop flicks because of its ethnic make-up. Carter is a black American, Lee is Chinese, and the movie capitalizes on every ounce of good-natured race-based comedy that the pairing provides. Situating two American minorities together inside the United States and then moving them around the globe -- much of this film takes place in Paris -- is a rather obvious but nonetheless brilliant tool for funny and light-hearted commentary on race relations.

If that weren't enough (and it probably wouldn't be), the movie takes international relations into its scope as well. Sometimes-conflicting groups within the U.S. can therefore encounter various international factions and the cultural clashes and harmonies that ensue pave way for a lot of laughs. Bravely unrestrained by the pressures of political correctness, Rush Hour 3 is never heavy-handed, preachy, or muted. At the same time, it's never offensive or gratuitous. Instead, the film strikes a near-perfect balance that makes for a lot of fun while asking the underlying questions of what it means to belong to a certain group, to be an American, to be a friend, and even to be a brother.

Chic and targeted French supermodel Genevieve (Noemie Lenoir) is offered plenty of consolation from Detective Carter. Brotherly love means different things to different siblings. For Lee and Kenji (Hiroyuki Sanada), it means some hesitation marks a face-to-face, gun-to-gun alley showdown.

The contemporary setting, along with the dialogue that fully embraces it, will unquestionably date Rush Hour 3. If ever there is a world in which there is no war in Iraq, the French and the Americans get along, or the state of race relations in the U.S. alters, then the film will lose its relevance.
Even then, though, the movie will likely hold up as a highly entertaining monument of today's state of affairs. For the time being, it's a delightfully playful interaction with the way things are -- or at least as they might look through a comic eye.

Whereas humor abounds, though, story is scarce in the movie. As the DVD's audio commentary track repeatedly points out, there's a paucity of scenes devoted to actual plot. When a nugget of story does come, it comes fast, meaning it's a lot to take in and a bit difficult to follow. Therein lies Rush Hour 3's greatest weakness. When not preoccupied with storytelling, the movie is filled with action sequences. Neither the plot nor the action would be enough to sustain the movie if it were a serious drama, no matter how impressive Jackie Chan's stunts may be. But the movie isn't designed to place plot in the forefront; characters are emphasized instead. In a hilarious setting such as this one, that's okay, especially since the comedy emanates from the story rather than from some barely applicable screenwriter's joke book. The narrative, though simple and not immune to scrutiny, is sufficient to support ninety minutes of good fun. Even if occasionally ahead of its audience, the story doesn't strain credulity and the pace doesn't distract from the real value of Rush Hour: friendship and laughter.

Rush Hour 3 makes its Christmastime home video debut on both single-disc and 2-Disc Platinum Series DVD (the latter is available on Blu-Ray as well). The remainder of this review is focused on the 2-Disc Platinum Series DVD.

Buy Rush Hour 3: New Line 2-Disc Platinum Series DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
DTS-ES 6.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (English), Dolby Surround (English)
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: December 23, 2007
Suggested Retail Price: $34.98
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s)
Black Dual Amaray Keepcase with Lenticular Cardboard Slipcover
Also available in Single-Disc WS/FS DVD, Rush Hour Trilogy Gift Set, and on Blu-ray Disc

VIDEO and AUDIO

As is expected from a brand new, big budget film, Rush Hour 3 looks great on DVD, leaving no real complaints. There are a number of audio options on the DVD:
Netflix, Inc.
a DTS-ES 6.1 Surround Sound track, a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX Surround Sound track, and a Stereo Surround Sound track. The stereo track is a worthwhile move for those who will be viewing with headphones or on a regular TV flying solo. Anyone with a home theater setup, however, will be more interested in the other tracks. Good news: both sound great. Without a sixth speaker, I can't fully assess the DTS presentation, but even with just 5 speakers, the track sounded amazing. The Dolby Digital track was similarly pleasing, offering noticeably more robust bass levels but a slightly less dynamic sound field than the DTS track. No matter which is chosen, the movie sounds fantastic, with excellent sound mixing, volume levels, and channel separation. English and Spanish subtitles are offered on both discs.

Youki Kudoh is among the many cast and crew members interviewed in the feature-length "Making 'Rush Hour 3.'" Three-time "Rush Hour" director Brett Ratner rallies his cast and crew in Disc 2's lengthy "Le Rush Hour Trois Production Diary." Chris Tucker cracks a smile in the amusing outtakes reel.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The 2-Disc Platinum Series DVD offers a healthy helping of bonus features. Disc 1's most substantial offering is an audio commentary track with director Brett Ratner and (despite the omission of his name on the packaging) screenwriter Jeff Nathanson. The discussion is a pretty average one, with bits of valuable insight into the making of the film thrown in along the way, but with excessive praise laid at the feet of cast and crew throughout.

Disc 1 also provides the theatrical trailer (2:22) for the film. While additional TV spots and promotional materials would have been appreciated, the inclusion of the trailer is always a nice touch.

Additionally, Disc 1 contains special DVD-ROM/Online features that can be accessed when the disc is inserted into your computer. Unfortunately, these features are not available for Mac OS users. If you're running Windows on your machine, then you can engage in an "Interactive Viewing Experience", in which you can view storyboards, the script, or backstage photos that are relevant to the scene at hand as you watch the movie itself. There also various links to New Line-related websites which are more quickly viewed using your own web browser. The "Interactive Viewing Experience" is definitely worth checking out; it's just a shame that a growing number of the computer-owning public won't be able to.

Disc 2 offers two substantial features, the first of which is "Making Rush Hour 3" (1:27:57), a making-of documentary that features all the behind-the-scenes footage and interviews that you would expect from such a piece, only it runs longer and covers more than the typical fifteen minute piece. Similarly, "'Le Rush Hour Trois' Production Diary" (1:05:02) documents the actual production of the film, making use of raw, behind-the-scenes footage. Though both are lengthy, neither is as in-depth as one might hope. Still, they cover a lot of ground and the production diary reveals the mechanics behind some of the films' more impressive stunts. Both are divided into chapters that are directly accessible from their respective sub-menus.

Though the movie's end credits feature several wonderful bloopers, there are naturally many more and Disc 2 pieces some of them together in a short but amusing "Outtakes" reel (2:33).

Carter and Lee sing and dance to "Lady Marmalade" while their cab driver George (Yvan Attal) looks on in this deleted scene. The short Visual Effects Reel provides a three-dimensional look at CGI work done for the climactic Parisian finale. Genevieve's Bonnie and Clyde-themed show is one of many images featuring in Disc 2's animated main menu.

There are also seven deleted, alternate, or extended scenes available,
ranging from barely different to really neat. Fortunately, all seven can be viewed together via "Play All" if the viewer wishes and an optional audio commentary by Ratner Nathanson is available for each. Unfortunately, the writer and director don't always have much to say. Together, the scenes run 7:16.

"Visual Effects Reel" (2:02) pieces together computer-rendered 3D models of characters and sets with segments of green screen footage and final product. It's a neat way of looking at the process of going from design to final cut but it's ultimately short and not exceptionally revealing.

Though they can hardly be considered bonuses, the DVD credits are also available by selecting the New Line logo on the Disc 2 main menu.

There is an Easter Egg on Disc 2. If you prefer to find it yourself, please skip to the next paragraph. Scroll down to "'Le Rush Hour Trois' Production Diary"; when that is highlighted, press the left arrow key on your remote. This will highlight a circular symbol to the right of "Visual Effects Reel". Select that symbol and you'll be treated to an addition to the effects reel in which the characters fight with light sabers (0:06). It's short and silent but very cool!

Disc 2 claims to offer DVD-ROM material as well, though you'll only be presented with the same promotional links that Disc 1 provided and no actual content.

Both discs' 16x9 main menus are animated, showcasing a montage of clips from the movie set against a selection from its score. Many of the sub-menus also feature score selections while some are silent and all are stagnant. The discs themselves are labeled with rather nondescript artwork and are packaged in a standard black keepcase which is itself housed inside a snazzy, holographic cardboard slipcover. There is a double-sided promotional flyer inside but unfortunately, there's no chapter index card.

A reel of sneak peeks plays at the beginning of Disc 1 and can be separately viewed from the special features menu. Trailers include Be Kind Rewind, the Blade: House of Chthon DVD, and the Ocean's 13 DVD.

Lee and Carter are not given friendly treatment by France's suspicious Detective Revi (Roman Polanski). Carter stands up to young Asian Americans with swords in one of the more memorable sequences of "Rush Hour 3."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Rush Hour 3 is a worthy follow-up to its two predecessors. My personal ranking places it in the middle but it's basically as good as the other two, certainly holding its own. Though a thin plot will trouble some viewers, the abundant humor makes it more than just tolerable. The movie lives up to its name and then some, offering more than an hour of adrenaline and memorable comedy.

The 2-Disc Platinum Series DVD offers a lot in terms of bonus features, though very little of it is good enough to warrant complete viewing by anyone who isn't obsessed. Many will likely be happy with the lower-priced, single-disc alternative but in either case, a good movie presented with excellent picture and audio quality surely earns a spot in any DVD collection.

Buy Rush Hour 3 from Amazon.com:
2-Disc Platinum Series DVD 1-Disc DVD Rush Hour Trilogy DVD Gift Set Blu-ray Disc

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Reviewed December 27, 2007.



Text copyright 2007 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2007 New Line Cinema, Arthur Sakissian Productions, Roger Birnbaum Productions, and New Line Home Entertainment.
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