When's the last time a Jackie Chan film was barred from playing in China? Probably never, although I'm hardly an expert on such things. But get this: Seems that the all-powerful Chinese Film Bureau has refused to let Brett Ratner's Rush Hour 3 open in their country. Variety indicates that "commercial reasons" are to blame -- a claim that makes little sense since both Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2 did very solid business in China.

The "Bureau" is notoriously strict when it comes to certain on-screen activities, and one theory is that the censors were displeased with the plot -- which apparently involves Chinese mafia figures. More likely the members of the Film Bureau felt the same way I did about the lame, lame, lame racial humor. ("Yu! Me! No, you!" Ugh. And the French-bashing. Apparently that just never gets old.) One needs only to view the trailer to see how base and casually racist the humor is -- and now it looks like New Line (and Edko, the Chinese rights holder for the film) are about to pay for the flick's weaknesses ... through the wallet.

Edko chief Bill Kong explains the snub thusly: "The problem is not the Film Bureau, it is (state-run distributor) China Film. The schedule is very congested, and American films are doing very well around the world this year." Strange but true: China only imports 20 foreign films a year, which may help to (partially) explain why RH3 was left out in the cold. But I'm betting that's not even remotely the only reason.