Three years after the events of Rush Hour 2, In Los Angeles, Chinese Ambassador Solon Han, with Hong Kong Police Force Chief Inspector Lee as his bodyguard, addresses the importance of fighting the Triads at the World Criminal Court, announcing that he may know the whereabouts of Shy Shen, a semi-mythical individual of great importance to the Chinese mob. Before announcing, an unknown assassin uses a sniper rifle on Han without being seen, disrupting the conference, and resulting in a large panic among everyone observing them. Lee pursues the shooter and corners him, discovering that the assassin is his childhood Japanese foster brother Kenji. When Lee hesitates to shoot Kenji, he makes his escape when LAPD Detective James Carter (having learned about the shooting over the police radio) arrives and tries to intervene.
Lee learns that Han will make a full recovery in the hospital, as the bullet hit only his shoulder. Han's daughter, Soo-Yung, now grown up, arrives and makes Lee and Carter promise to capture the one behind the shooting. On Soo-Yung's insistence, Lee and Carter then go to the Kung Fu studio where Soo-Yung teaches to find an envelope entrusted to her by Han. They meet the old master, who informs the duo that the Triads took Soo-Yung's belongings, Lee and Carter arrive in the hospital just in time to intercept a gang of French speaking assassins who attempted to kill Soo-Yung and Han. Lee and Carter defeat the assassins and interrogate one of them with the help of a French speaking nun, Sister Agnes. For her protection, they take Soo-Yung to the French Embassy and leave her under the care of Reynard, the French ambassador and the chairman of the World Criminal Court. When a car bomb nearly kills Reynard and Soo-Yung, the duo decides to go to Paris to investigate.
In Paris, after undergoing a painful cavity search from Parisian commissioner Revi, Lee and Carter meet George, a taxi driver, who is prejudiced against Americans. After Carter forces George to help, he drives them to a Triad hideout. Once there, Lee is tricked by a mob assassin named Jasmine, who claims to have information about Shy Shen, and she almost kills him, but Carter intervenes. Lee and Carter attempt to escape the Triads, having convinced a scared George that they need his help, but are ultimately captured by Kenji's men. Kenji offers to let them live if the two leave Paris immediately, but Lee refuses and, in a short struggle, he and Carter escape their captivity. The duo recuperate at a hotel, where Lee reveals his relationship with Kenji to Carter, but decides that his help is not needed. Carter leaves the hotel in disappointment, but recomposes himself when he spots and follows a woman he met at the Triad hideout, learning that she is a stage performer named Geneviève. Meanwhile, Reynard meets Lee in his hotel room and reveals that Shy Shen is not a person, but a list of the Triad leaders and that Geneviève is Han's informant who has access to the list.
After locating Geneviève and saving her from an assassination attempt, the two flee to their hotel room where Carter seduces Geneviève. They are attacked by Jasmine and are rescued by George, who decides to help them and has developed a great appreciation for Americans. Lee and Carter then learn that Geneviève is the list. The names of the thirteen Triad leaders have been tattooed on the back of her head and, as per tradition, Geneviève explains that she will be beheaded and buried if the Triads capture her. When Lee and Carter bring Geneviève to Reynard, they find out that he has been working with the Triads all along. Kenji calls and informs Lee that he has captured Soo-Yung and that he would like to exchange her for Geneviève.
Lee arrives at the exchange point, the Jules Verne Restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, with Carter disguised as Geneviève. Kenji challenges Lee to a sword fight, during which the two fall off the tower and into a safety net. Kenji's sword cuts the safety net open and the two men are left hanging on what remains of the net. Lee wishes to save his foster brother, but Kenji says goodbye and lets go, falling to his death as Lee tearfully watches. Meanwhile, Carter saves Soo-Young and defeats Jasmine, who is killed after getting stuck in one of the elevator wheels. After escaping the triads by using a French flag as a parachute, Carter and Lee are confronted by Reynard, holding Geneviéve hostage and threatening to kill her and frame them. However, George, who followed Lee and Carter, shoots Reynard from behind, killing him. The police arrive, with Commissioner Revi gloating and trying to get undeserved credit. After both give the commissioner a simultaneous punch to the face, knocking him out, Lee and Carter leave the scene while dancing to Edwin Starr song "War".Jackie Chan as Chief Inspector LeeChris Tucker as Detective James CarterMax von Sydow as Varden ReynardHiroyuki Sanada as KenjiYvan Attal as GeorgeYouki Kudoh as Dragon Lady JasmineNoémie Lenoir as Geneviève / Shy ShenZhang Jingchu as Soo-YungTzi Ma as Ambassador Solon HanRoman Polanski as Commissaire ReviPhilip Baker Hall as Captain William DielDana Ivey as Sister AgnesHenry O as Master YuMia Tyler as MarshaDavid Niven, Jr. as British Foreign MinisterSun Mingming as Kung-Fu GiantJulie Depardieu as PauletteSarah Shahi as Zoe
The film was not screened in Chinese theaters in 2007, to make way for a larger variety of foreign films for that year, according to a business representative. (The quota for imported films is 20 each year.)
The original motion picture soundtrack for this movie was released on August 8, 2007 on CD and audio cassette from New Line Records and Columbia Records.
Rush Hour 3 grossed $140.1 million in the United States and Canada and $117.9 million in other territories for a worldwide total gross $258 million, against a production budget of $140 million.
The film opened on August 10, 2007 and grossed $49.1 million in its opening weekend. Box Office Mojo noted:
Rush Hour 3 received generally negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 19% based on 156 reviews, with an average rating of 4.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Rush Hour 3 is a tired rehash of earlier films, and a change of scenery can't hide a lack of new ideas." Todd Gilchrist of IGN movies said, "A movie that not only depends on but demands you don't think in order to enjoy it." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 44 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.
Desson Thomson of The Washington Post, giving it three and a half stars out of five, said "at the risk of eternal damnation on the Internet, I admit to laughing at — even feeling momentarily touched by — Rush Hour 3." Christian Toto of The Washington Times said, "The Rush job should put the franchise down for good." Christopher Tookey of the Daily Mail said, "Infecting this third movie is an extra, deeply unpleasant level of racism that we haven't seen before in the series." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times was slightly more positive giving the film two stars and saying, "...once you realize it's only going to be so good, you settle back and enjoy that modest degree of goodness, which is at least not badness, and besides, if you're watching Rush Hour 3, you obviously didn't have anything better to do, anyway." James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film one-and-a-half stars out of four, and said the movie was dull, uninspired and redundant.
The film was released on December 26, 2007, on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. As of March 30, 2008, the film has made $80.75 million in Home Video rentals, making it the top rental of 2007.
Because of the film's box office success, director Brett Ratner and writer Jeff Nathanson are considering the production of a fourth film in the Rush Hour series. In the DVD audio commentary for Rush Hour 3, Brett Ratner jokes that a Rush Hour 4 could be released in the future. Ratner and Nathanson are exploring many concepts, including the use of the motion capture technique for the possible sequel and various film projects with Chan and Tucker. It has been reported that the fourth film may be set in Moscow.
In May 2011, in an interview with Vulture, Ratner stated that the high cost of making a sequel is, "why another Rush Hour probably won’t get made, either: It'd be too much to pay me, Chris [Tucker], and Jackie [Chan] to come back." In a May 12, 2012 interview with The Arizona Republic, Jackie Chan reveals that he is still planning on sequels to both Rush Hour and The Karate Kid.