Now in Cinemas: Reviews for September 6, 2007

Reviews: Rush Hour 3 and Day Watch

Reviews by Jason Pirodsky

A tired third entry in the series that was feeling old at two, Brett Ratner´s Rush Hour 3 is capably handled and no worse than the previous entry but still fails to elicit any excitement. It´s watchable, however, due to being a Jackie Chan movie, and featuring an abundance of Jackie Chan stuntwork. Most of the jokes fail, and the plot induces yawns, but when the film entrusts lengthy action scenes to its 53-year old star, he still manages to impress. This is Chris Tucker´s first film in six years (he hasn´t made a non-Rush Hour movie in ten), and I can´t say he´s been missed, though his screening, nails-on-a-chalkboard persona seems to have been toned down this time around.

Rush Hour 3
Directed by Brett Ratner. Starring Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, Hiroyuki Sanada, Youki Kudoh, Max von Sydow, Yvan Attal, Noémie Lenoir, Jingchu Zhang, Tzi Ma, Roman Polanski, Henry O. Written by Jeff Nathanson, based on characters created by Ross LaManna.
IMDb link

A virtual retread of the previous two films reunites Detective James Carter (Tucker) and Chief Inspector Lee (Chan) as an assassination attempt on Chinese Ambassador Han (Tzi Ma) opens the movie. The duo follow some convenient clues that lead them to a Chinese Triad gang in Paris. Cue further eye-rolling culture-clash gags; the series has apparently run out of African-American and Chinese stereotypes, so we´re treated to a selection of French ones here. After Lee re-encounters his bad-guy ‘brother´, the plot seems to resolve itself and we´re treated to a climatic fight atop, yeah, that´s right, the Eiffel Tower. How original. The stuntwork here is fine, but as Carter and Lee escape using a giant flag, pic employs some surprisingly amateurish green-screen work. Max von Sydow has made a career of late out of aging, nefarious bad guys (he was particularly effective in Minority Report), but he´s wasted here with curiously little screen time; the same goes for Roman Polanski, who appears in an entirely pointless cameo as a French detective who greets our heroes at Charles de Gaulle. Outtakes that open the end credits are far more entertaining than anything in the film itself, and reveal an actual chemistry between Chan and Tucker that somehow didn´t make it to the screen.


Day Watch
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov. Starring Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshina, Vladimir Menshov, Galina Tyunina, Viktor Verzhbitsky, Zhanna Friske, Dmitry Martynov, Valeri Zolotukhin, Aleksei Chadov, Nurzhuman Ikhtymbayev. Written by Bekmambetov, from the novel by Sergei Lukyanenko and Vladimir Vasiliev.
IMDb link

Impressive, FX-heavy sequel to Night Watch picks right up where it´s predecessor left off, and rarely lets up for the duration of it´s 130-minute runtime. The series (Twilight Watch is scheduled for release later this year) has been called Russia´s answer to The Matrix, and this sequel – just as impressive as the original – shows that these films may be headed along a different path than the Wachowski´s disappointing trilogy. Director Timur Bekmambetov draws on a variety of classic sci-fi, and there´s a lot of Star Wars to be found here, particularly in the good vs. evil storyline, played out against a pair of father-son relationships: our hero Anton, who fights for the good forces of Light while his son Yegor has chosen the path of the Dark, and Anton´s neighbor, a vampire butcher who wants better for his son. The plot involves Anton´s quest for the mysterious Chalk of Fate, which can literally rewrite history. Thankfully, however, the fantasy elements never outweigh the human story at the heart of the film; the movie never feels as pretentious as it could in less capable hands. Zhanna Friske is a standout as a warrior of the Dark. Computer-generated effects are as good here as in any Hollywood film. Highly recommended for fans of the original film, which may be required viewing in order to have a grasp on this one.

Note: Film is playing in Russian with Czech subtitles at most cinemas, but catch a version with Czech AND English subtitles (which are often creatively integrated with the on-screen action) at Palace Cinemas Slovanský dům.


And: Medvídek (showtimes), from acclaimed director Jan Hřebejk (Divided We Fall, Cosy Dens). The highly-anticipated film, about a trio of male friends, is now screening with English subtitles at Villages Cinemas Anděl.

See my full review here:

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