‘Everybody Knows War’: 25 Trivia Tidbits About the ‘Rush Hour’ Movies

‘Everybody Knows War’: 25 Trivia Tidbits About the ‘Rush Hour’ Movies

25 years ago, the first Rush Hour movie dropped and helped revitalize the waning buddy cop genre, with elaborate action sequences and character comedy, via the gift that is Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. Pairing these two was a genius move, with every studio that turned down the project (who was pretty much everyone) immediately regretting losing out on a golden franchise. Read on to learn about that, the sequels (and the possible future installments), and the time the U.S. Secret Service had to get involved …

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The Director Flew to South Africa to Get Jackie Chan in the Movie

Director Brett Ratner was a Jackie Chan fanatic and flew all the way to South Africa (where Chan was filming a movie) to convince him to do Rush Hour. Chan didn’t give him an immediate answer, only driving Ratner to the airport after having lunch at a Chinese restaurant. After making Ratner sweat it out for a couple of days, Chan finally agreed to star.

When Jackie Chan Met Chris Tucker

A couple of days after agreeing to do Rush Hour, Chan flew to Los Angeles to meet his future co-star, Chris Tucker. “They had a conversation for 30 minutes,” Ratner told GQ. “‘I love you, Jackie Chan (Tucker said). You the man!’ And (Chan) was all, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you again.’ Halfway through, Chris says, ‘Brett, can we talk outside for a minute?’ and I go, ‘Yeah.’ And we go outside, and Chris says, ‘Brett, Jackie Chan don’t speak English! How we gon’ do a movie when he don’t speak English?’ I said, ‘Oh, it’ll be fine.’ Anyway. We go back in. Chris leaves. I said, ‘Jackie, how did you like Chris?’ And Jackie says, ‘I like Chris, but I don’t understand how he talks.’ I said to myself, This is going to be fucking genius.”

It Was Between Chris Tucker and Martin Lawrence

Martin Lawrence originally signed on to play Detective James Carter, but New Line chief Michael De Luca was wary since Lawrence had just done the buddy comedy Nothing to Lose. Tucker was considered a “fresher new talent,” and being “less expensive” didn’t hurt either.

Studios Didn’t Want to Make It

Major Hollywood studios were in no rush to make Rush Hour. “People had zero interest in it,” the movie’s producer, Roger Birnbaum, told The Los Angeles Times. “Fox did not want to do Rush Hour because they said they couldn’t make my deal,” he added, referring to his producer’s fee. Disney turned it down because they didn’t like the script and doubted Chan’s ability to carry a big blockbuster. Universal was interested but didn’t want to sign pay-or-play deals, which ensures principal players still get paid even if the movie never gets made. However, New Line eventually came through, agreeing to make the movie as long as Chris Tucker committed to the project.

’Rush Hour 2’ and the Money Controversy

The sequel’s props department had to make around $1 trillion fake dollars for the film. This led to an unforeseen problem: the money was so well-made that some extras on set ended up pocketing a bunch and trying to spend it in the real world. The fake money was eventually confiscated and destroyed by the U.S. Secret Service, as were the digital files used to print them.

Alternate Considerations

Before Lawrence was attached to the project and Tucker ultimately signed, stars like Wesley Snipes and Eddie Murphy were considered for the part. Murphy reportedly passed to make the box office bomb, Holy Man.

The Famous Composer

Argentinian Lalo Schifrin, the five-time Grammy award winner who scored all three Rush Hour movies, also composed the theme of Mission: Impossible and has done the scores for classics like Cool Hand Luke, Bullitt, and Enter the DragonSchifrin explained how he created the Rush Hour sequel’s stunning symphony score: “For the sequel, he (Ratner) asked me to do a symphonic score. It was bigger than life, like an epic score. I ignored the comedy – the actors took care of that. I played to the chases and the danger. It’s a serious score in the sense of an ‘epic’ score, like Raiders of the Lost Ark or an Errol Flynn film. Also, you must realize that the symphony orchestra allows many more possibilities. Mozart didn’t need a rhythm section to ‘drive.’ I was able to create a lot of energy without the use of drums and electric guitars and all that.”

The Sequel Premiered On a Plane

Rush Hour 2 premiered on July 26, 2001, on United Airlines Flight 1, renamed “The Rush Hour Express” for the promotion. Apropos of the film, the flight flew from L.A. to Hong Kong.

A Disgraced Director

It’s a pity that the Rush Hour movies we’ve had up to now will always be marred by the fact that its director has been accused of a myriad of sexual assault and harassment claims by multiple actors, including Olivia Munn, Natasha Henstridge, and Elliot Page.  If a fourth installment gets made, it’s pretty clear that a new director will rightfully take the helm.

The Fight Scene in ‘Rush Hour 3’ That Parodies’ Game of Death’

The fight scene with the Kung-Fu Giant subverts Bruce Lee’s Game of Death, where the shorter Lee fights tall basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In Rush Hour 3, the shorter Tucker fights tall basketball player Sun Mingming.

Jackie Chan and ‘Rush Hour’ Led to the Creation of Rotten Tomatoes

The review-aggregator website was created by Senh Duong, who’s a huge Jackie Chan fan. He would scour every review of his favorite martial arts actor, which inspired him to create a site where he could have all those reviews in one place. Rotten Tomatoes was launched in the summer of 1998, just in time for all the Rush Hour reviews to find a common home.

A Different Acting Experience

Tucker likes to improvise his dialogue, which makes it challenging for Chan, who isn’t as fluent in English (but not for the lack of trying). “Jackie tries to remember the last word of Chris’ lines, but that word usually never comes because Chris says his dialogue differently from what’s written,” the director once explained. “So I usually cue Jackie. Then I’ve got to make sure Jackie’s responses make sense — so there’s a lot of rewriting on the set.”

It All Got to Chan During Filming

“To me, action scenes are so easy, but dialogue scenes drive me crazy. The directors and producers want me to speak everything perfectly,” Chan wrote while filming Rush Hour 3. “Sometimes, when a word is in the past tense or plural, I get confused. It is hard to remember lengthy dialogue, and still sound natural. I have to say my lines over and over again until I get it right. I want to ask them, ‘Can I speak Jackie Chan English?’”

The Production Had Full Access to the Eiffel Tower in ‘Rush Hour 3’

During a press junket, Chan and Tucker said that it was pretty rad having the Eiffel Tower all to themselves while filming that famous scene. They had full access to the Paris landmark for seven nights straight and could switch the lights on and off whenever they wanted, even at five in the morning.

A Different Choreography Experience

“Jackie helps to choreograph a lot of the action,” the director shared. “I work with him just like I would with any action coordinator. Jackie’s been making movies longer than I’ve been alive, so I learn so much about the basics of stunt work and action from him. Typically, you would have each fight sequence mapped out and designed, and then you shoot a master and pick up the pieces. But here we design it on the day piece by piece. I’m not going to tell Jackie how each kick and punch should be thrown. I just tell him where the scene starts and ends for the purpose of storytelling. It’s a much longer process, but the results are amazing. Jackie’s been giving us all his best fight stuff for this movie.”

The Master At Work

Watch below to see how Chan (rightfully) disagreed with certain things suggested for the restaurant fight scene posted above and how he went on to choreograph the entire sequence.

’Rush Hour 3’ Alternate Ending

There’s an alternate ending (which you can watch below) where Lee and Carter get on a plane en route to Fiji in a clear set-up for a follow-up film.

A Major Bump in Salary

The Los Angeles Times reported that Tucker (being less expensive than Martin Lawrence at the time) received $2 million for Rush Hour. Thanks to the commercial success of the movie and its sequel, Tucker got a $25 million payday for Rush Hour 3.

Jackie Chan Did It for the Money

In 2012, Chan said that of all his movies, he disliked his Rush Hour films the most and did them purely for the money: “I have reasons to do each film, I have something to say. Unlike Rush Hour — there was no reason (in making it); you just give me the money, and I’m fine. I dislike Rush Hour the most, but ironically, it sold really well in the U.S. and Europe.”

Still, He’s Up for Another One

In December 2022, Chan said that Rush Hour 4 was in the works and that he was meeting with a director (clearly not Ratner) to discuss the script. Tucker, too, seemed to have confirmed the project in March of this year. 

Upon Its Release, ‘Rush Hour 3’ Was Not Screened in China

Due to an import limitation of 20 foreign films a year, Rush Hour 3 wasn’t screened in China during its release. “We’ve talked to the Film Bureau, and there’s a feeling that while this is a good film, there already are enough imported films coming,” Xiao Ping, a director of international relations at the China Film Import and Export Co., explained at the time. “This one would not be that popular, anyway,” he added. Since the first two films were bangers over in China, many believe that the true reason for the “banning” had to do with the Chinese organized crime family shown in the film.

The Karaoke Scene in ‘Rush Hour 2’ Was Supposed to Be in the Original

Producer Roger Birnbaum explained that they had cut a karaoke scene from Rush Hour and wanted to create a similar one for the sequel, only with Tucker doing most of the singing.

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker Get Along Swimmingly

The occasional communication issue aside, the two actors are real-life buddies behind the scenes, too. “I love Chris,” Chan once said during an interview. “He gives me a lot of his own clothes, and I give him mine. I show him Chinese tradition, and he teaches me a lot of American rap songs. He’s my buddy. We share a lot.” 


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