The Original ‘Rush Hour’ Starred Jay Leno and Pat Morita

‘Jay Leno, action star’ sounds like a horrible idea — and it was
The Original ‘Rush Hour’ Starred Jay Leno and Pat Morita

A hot-shot American cop teams up with an investigator from a distant Asian country. Cultures clash. Bad guys get killed — who are you picturing in the lead roles? Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker? Well, how about Mr. Miyagi and the guy later known for clipping out amusing newspaper headlines and making fun of Bill Clinton instead?

Yes, nearly a decade before Rush Hour came out, there was Collision Course, the 1989 buddy cop movie starring Jay Leno and Pat Morita, presumably after a casting session that consisted of a drunken round of Mad Libs. As the trailer claims, the movie is about “Two men as different as (*heavy, soul-exhausting sigh*) hot dogs and sushi.”

There’s a reason why Leno was never invited to join the cast of The Expendables: Collision Course isn’t very good. Actually, it’s worse than not very good, it’s pretty goddamn awful and is mostly enjoyed today only via YouTube highlight reels of Leno’s character being wildly sexist and racist. Even Leno himself later referred to it as a “horrible movie.” But hey, at least he gets to drive around in some beautiful cars.

Still, this 1980s dud did oddly anticipate many elements that later made Rush Hour a massive success. Rather than a Chinese detective working with the LAPD to solve a kidnapping, they go with a Japanese cop sent to Detroit to recover a stolen piece of experimental auto tech, but the premise of a by-the-book cop with martial arts training teaming up with a wise-cracking American loudmouth remains intact. 

Although, unlike Rush Hour, the villains of Collision Course have laser guns for some reason, which we can only assume had to do with the financial successes of George Lucas. 

De Laurentiis Entertainment Group

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Collision Course ends with Morita charging the villain’s oncoming car and jump-kicking it right through the windshield, caving in the poor bastard’s head as if it were made of jelly-filled Play-Doh.

Since the film is mostly forgotten today, we likely won’t get a reboot starring Conan O’Brien for half the movie, then a bitter Leno again for the second half. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this). 

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