The only thing that's up-to-date about Rush Hour 3 is the way that 53-year-old Jackie Chan shows his age. As Chief Inspector Lee, the sly Hong Kong counterpart to Chris Tucker's motor-mouthed, exhibitionist L.A. cop James Carter, Chan demonstrates how a martial artist can segue into pure entertainer with a little help from his friends. Chan still wrings laughs from outrageous derring-do, but he's more willing than ever to detonate a visual punch line by actually getting punched or by helping Tucker prove (or improve) his slapstick strength. In their set pieces, Chan and Tucker are the Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra of chop-socky; in their most crowd-pleasing bit, they even sing in a nightclub.
The most satisfying fight scenes don't feature duets with Lee and Carter but trios including Jingchu Zhang as Soo Yung, the daughter of Lee's old friend, Chinese Consul Han (Tzi Ma). A sprightly martial-arts expert herself, she and the stars engage in some amusing and adrenaline-pumping hard-knocks choreography, whether Tucker is wielding her body like a club with a kick to it or Chan is using it to extend his own torso and limbs. Chan's expertise makes everything possible; in his scenes with a giant and a knife-thrower, he turns his defensive moves into comic ballet.
Rush Hour 3 (New Line Cinema) Starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. Directed by Brett Ratner. 87 minutes. PG-13.