In praising the versatility and talent that allows accomplished dramatic directors like Ang Lee and Zhang Yimou to direct epic action pictures like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero, Rush Hour 3's Jackie Chan suddenly found himself in the uncomfortable position of needing to quickly come up with a similarly positive appraisal of the skills of the guy who's nominally in control of the set of his current project:

Chan is currently filming the third instalment of the "Rush Hour" action-comedy series, and co-ordinates the action sequences. He said he appreciates director Brett Ratner's input during action-scene filming.

"Even though Brett doesn't know much about directing action, he does notice details that help us improve the scene. I appreciate his attentiveness when we shoot action scenes and his feedback," Chan said.

While it was certainly considerate of him to offer some token, kind words about Ratner's cinematic gifts, we wouldn't be surprised to hear that Chan quickly loses his conveniently tenuous grasp on English the moment the director tries to offer a suggestion any more significant than one concerning the conspicuous placement of a hot extra he's promised some camera time in exchange for her number. [Ed.note—Jesus, the guy's in one Page Six item about having his assistant help him try to boink extras, and you never let him live it down!]

Bonus! A reader shares a recent chance encounter with the Rush Hour collaborators, which may or may not shed additional light on their creative dynamic:

I work at The Culver Studios, home to the highly anticipated (by who, I'm not sure) production of Rush Hour 3. [Monday], on my way to the other end of the lot, I had the pleasure of walking behind Jackie Chan and Brett Ratner most of the way. Jackie was in one of the edit bays probably watching himself flip off a ladder or attempting to speak English, Brett was waiting for him outside. Mr. Ratner was dressed in a full, green track looked like it was made of velvet or velour, must have been his formal track suit. He was looking pudgier and greasier than ever. Jackie was wearing a dress shirt and tie, looking very professional.

All I could really get from their conversation was Brett explaining to Jackie about how the scene he just watched was incomplete and needed some visual effects work. The most notable part of the encounter was watching Brett walk next to Jackie, basically shoulder to shoulder. I've never seen two people walk so close to each other. On more than one occasion Brett wrapped his arm around the inside of Jackie's and grabbed onto his arm, prom date style. It was very awkward.

In light of Chan's aforementioned appraisal of Ratner's action-directing ability, maybe what our operative witnessed was Ratner dropping by to see how his actor's rough cut of the movie was coming along, and, after tricking Chan into briefly stepping away from an edit bay with the mention of an "emergency," finally found a chance to pepper him with notes about how much better the scene will play if Chan would just let him have some exploding CGI French cops added in during post-production.

[Photo: Getty Images]