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Sunday, 30 September 2007

In Rush Hour 3, Hiroyuki Sanada is Kenji, a Triad operative with close ties to Chief Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan). They go way back to boarding school in southern China but Kenji is ruthless. So when we see these two slashing away with swords on the superstructure of the Eiffel Tower, at night, there is a lot going on. Kenji makes the final choice.

The film is saturated with ideas currently floating around in the global marketplace, and deals with them with aplomb. Chris Tucker (Detective James Carter) seems to have a riposte for every situation. Often these verbal sallies are from popular culture as when, in the Jules Verne Restaurant in the point of the Eiffel Tower, he breaks out into Kung Fu Fighting, the 1974 classic by Carl Douglas (b. 1942 in Jamaica), after downing four black-suited gangsters.

It seems pop culture has the answer for every eventuality. Even inside the 'gentlemens' club' at 50 Rue Franklin D. Roosevelt, Carter maintains the furious persona of an over-sexed, under-appreciated L.A. cop as he attempts to woo Genevieve (Noemie Lenoir) at the baccarat table. When they meet later, she is more forthcoming but has a hidden agenda.

Max Von Sydow is Reynard (French for 'fox') and he's also very crafty. It seems the arm of the Triads extends to the highest levels of world authority, in this case the World Criminal Court (not a real entity). But the holy grail turns out to be a tattoo with the names of the 13 top members of the gang.

Yvan Attal is George, the cab driver who, infected by American triumphalism, finally gets to kill someone. The scruffy Frenchman was previously seen opposite Nicole Kidman in The Interpreter. His flaccid features and baggy eyes are the perfect foil for the rugged masculinity of Chan and Tucker.

This is an action movie but it crosses a lot of cultural ground. The message isn't particularly deep and the method is familiar, but there are a lot of scenes with a subtle dynamic deriving from the actors' ethnicity and, as I mentioned earlier, the global 'issues' it brings into focus.

Well worth the 15 bucks. As a bonus, the French policeman with the rubber gloves is Roman Polanski.

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