Chief Inspector Lee once again acts as bodyguard to Ambassador Han, this time escorting him to Los Angeles. The Ambassador plans to reveal important information to the World Criminal Court about a deadly and powerful Chinese crime syndicate called the Triads. But before he can disclose the identity of Shi Shen, the supposed center of the crime ring, he is targeted by an assassin's bullet. Lee spots the shooter on a neighboring rooftop and leaps into action.
Meanwhile, the LAPD's Detective Carter has been busted down to traffic cop and is currently causing havoc in a nearby car-jammed intersection. He sees his good friend Lee chasing the bad guy and commandeers a vehicle to lend a hand. The shooter gets away, but not before Inspector Lee realizes that the man is his long-lost childhood friend, Kenji.
The Ambassador's daughter, Soo Yung (the little girl who was saved by the intrepid buddy-cop heroes in the original Rush Hour, now grown up), doesn't want them to give up, though, and she asks her two friends to finish their hunt. Cue Carter and Lee to punch, kick and somersault their way through ... Paris.
Inspector Lee refuses to hurt Kenji even though Kenji attempts to kill him several times. Instead, Lee repeatedly reaches out to encourage the man to change his ways. At one point, Lee and his old friend are dangling hundreds of feet off the ground and Kenji says, "Let go or we're both gonna die." Lee retorts, "No. I can save you."
Carter, for all his bluster, speaks of being Lee's "brother from another mother" and puts his life on the line to help him solve the mystery of the Triads. Lee and Carter risk their lives to save both Soo Yung and another woman named Genevieve.
Carter claims to have been studying Buddhism for the last three years in an attempt to become more Chinese. That established, he—oddly—encourages a man to pray, "Forgive me Father for I have sinned."
Carter and Genevieve kiss and roll around on a bed, removing each other's clothes. Once he is (apparently) naked and she is stripped down to bra and panties, she straddles him.
As Carter wanders around backstage at a French night club, we see a number of women in various stages of undress (from brief panties, bra and garters to topless with well-placed beads). He pretends to be a costume designer and forces women in a dressing room to take off everything but their g-strings, then line up in front of him so that he can "examine" them. He does so, and comments on their "assets." (The camera lingers behind the group.)
At another club, Genevieve and other women wear formfitting, cleavage-baring dresses. (Her neckline is cut to her navel.) When Carter has two women in handcuffs bent over the hood of their car, the camera ogles their short-skirted backsides and then switches to view their low-cut tops.
Carter makes quite a few suggestive—and crude—sexual comments throughout the film. When a French cab driver approaches his wife with a secret, she immediately asks if he's gay. Carter wonders if a bald woman is really a man and wants Lee to check her "equipment."
Full-scale martial arts battles are what Rush Hour, Rush Hour 2 and now Rush Hour 3 are all about. Most of Lee's fights are defensive in nature as he strives to fend off attackers. But kicks, chops, flips and sword slashes fill the air. One of the blades slashes Lee's arm.
There are also gun battles in which men are shot. A French cab driver shoots a man in the back. Guns and knives are pointed at people's heads and throats. An assailant attacks with a fan made with sharp blades. Carter and Lee punch a French police officer in the face.
When Carter and Lee arrive in Paris, they are hung by their wrists by the French police and beaten with phone books. Soo Yung is tied by her wrists and suspended from the Eiffel Tower. A man falls from the tower and crashes down on a building far below. A woman gets caught in a large elevator gear and is killed (offscreen). Several high-speed chases result in riders catapulting off their motor bikes and cars crashing. A limousine blows up.
Carter tortures a bound man to force him to give them vital information. The man has blood flowing from his nose and ear as the cop slaps him, threatening him with gruesome suggestions of mutilation, and putting an unloaded gun to his head and pulling the trigger.
Crude or Profane Language
The s-word is said about a dozen times; "d--n" nearly twice that. Adding "a--" and "h---" to the pack puts the total well above 50. Jesus' name is abused once, and "g--d--n" is blurted twice.
When a nun tasked with serving as an interpreter for a Frenchman hears him use an obscenity, she refuses to swear, using the terms "s-word," "f-word," "n-word" and "mother f" instead.
Drug and Alcohol Content
People are briefly seen with what appears to be alcohol at the night club. Before an anticipated sexual encounter, Carter calls room service and orders a Red Bull.
Other Negative Elements
A French officer puts on a rubber glove, and the joke is that he's about to give Cater and Lee a cavity search. The two limp out afterwards. Carter makes a variety of toilet humor-oriented comments. Genevieve gambles.
A thoughtless, quick-tongued "ugly American" cop. A thoughtful, quick-fisted ace Asian inspector. Jaw-dropping acrobatics. Off-color humor. The first Rush Hour movie contained all of those things nearly a decade ago. And not much has changed since then. Director Brett Ratner has helmed all three movies, and he has almost slavishly stuck to those basics.
That creates two very real problems. 1) Rush Hour 3's script has gotten to the place where it's really 90 minutes about nothing. It's simply a mishmash of situations that allow the stars to perform their "magic." 2) "Basic" off-color humor doesn't age well. (Not that it's fresh and flowery the first time around.) For instance, in one scene Lee is in a room battling a knife-throwing female assailant while Carter is outside the door listening to the grunts and crashes, crowing over his friend's lovemaking prowess. Ugh.
The movie does speak of devotion between friends and the rewards gained when sacrificing for that friendship. But profanity, near-nudity and torture kick it squarely in the solar plexus.