Somewhere in Hollywood, a group of executives and Brett Ratner decided that Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker should make a movie together. The results were... actually quite good. The series centers on a pair of police detectives - one a Chinese police inspector, the other an LAPD detective - as they go on a series of misadventures often involving corrupt crime figures. The film incorporates elements of martial arts, and the buddy cop sub-genre.
In Hong Kong, on the last night of British rulership, Detective Inspector Lee (Chan), a close friend to Consul Han (Tzi Ma), manages to prevent precious pieces of China's history being smuggled out of the country. Six months later, when Consul Han is living in Los Angeles with his family, a mysterious crime lord, who goes by the name of Juntao, takes revenge on him by abducting his young daughter, Soo Yung (Julia Hsu). Han does not trust the FBI to do a good job and has Lee flown in from Hong Kong to assist them.
Because they don't want a foreign officer on their case, the FBI requests help from LAPD to "babysit" Lee - who gladly use the opportunity to get rid of Detective James Carter (Tucker), a big-mouthed work-alone cop who just can't be cool enough. His assignment is to keep Lee as far away from trouble as possible. But Carter and Lee don't like being put aside in that way and start working the case on their own.
The first movie was a major success and became the 7th top-grossing film of 1998, with a gross of over $141 million at the U.S. box office ($269 million when adjusted for 2019 inflation). The combination of motor-mouthed Tucker with Chan's gravity defying stunts proved to be a winning combination, in no small part due to Chan's movies being mostly comedies anyway.
Rush Hour 2 (2001)
Lee and Carter are back! This time they're together in Hong Kong. Carter wants a relaxing vacation but Lee just wants to do police work. At a night club, Lee spots an evil agent named Ricky Tan (John Lone), who runs a gang of counterfeiters, and his partner is a woman named Hu Li (Zhang Ziyi) who delivers packages containing bombs. Lee and Carter follow these two aboard a boat where their attempted bust really backfires.
But following some hunches, Lee and Carter fly back to Los Angeles, where they meet meet Secret Service Agent Isabella Molina (Roselyn Sánchez) who directs them on how to find the counterfeiters. Like the first movie, she was trying to get them out of her way, but Lee and Carter again find the right chain of evidence that takes them to Las Vegas and the perfect money-laundering location.
After an attempted assassination on Ambassador Han, Inspector Lee and Detective Carter are back in action as they head to Paris to protect Genevieve (Noémie Lenoir), a French woman with knowledge of the Triads' secret leaders. Lee also holds secret meetings with a United Nations authority, but his personal struggles with a Chinese-Japanese criminal mastermind named Kenji (Hiroyuki Sanada), which reveals that it's Lee's long-lost blood brother.
But their race will take them across the city, from the depths of the Paris underground to the breathtaking heights of the Eiffel Tower, as they fight to outrun the world's most deadly criminals and save the day. Of the three, this is the least well-received.
The franchise was thought finished after the third movie especially since Tucker has moved away from urban comedies and Chan had appeared in less and less Hollywood films. However nine years since the last release, it was soon announced that the series will be rebooted into a TV series with a new cast. It aired on CBS on March 31, 2016. And was cancelled on May 16, 2016.
In 2015, Chan said to media that production for Rush Hour 4 is in progress.
The film series contains examples of:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: In the third film. Justified as the film is set in Paris, where the sewers really are like that.
- Action Girl:
- LAPD Officer Tania Johnson in the first film.
- Downplayed with Isabella in the second film because she doesn't have much chance as Hu Li shot her in the shoulder.
- Also Soo Yung who Took a Level in Badass in the third film. Unfortunately this is also downplayed in the end where she is kidnapped, bringing back her Damsel in Distress status.
- Action Survivor: In the first movie especially, Carter can throw a pretty good punch (and take one), but he's consistently outclassed in fisticuffs by skilled martial artists. He gets a little better in 2, but is obviously barely able to stay alive in his fight with Hu Li. He's progressively better in 3, but still no black belt. Good thing he's better with a gun.
- Actor Allusion:
- At one point in the first film, a couple of tourists ask Lee for directions to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, a famous restaurant in LA. The restaurant was previously a plot point in Jackie Brown, in which Chris Tucker's character is promised a free meal there and then promptly murdered by Samuel L. Jackson.
- This is not the first time Jackie Chan has had to stop a corrupt British government official from stealing Chinese antiquities.
- In 3, Lee tells Carter that he doesn't speak French.
- AM/FM Characterization: Lee and Carter's music tastes showcase how different and opposing they are early on, but eventually both bond over Edwin Starr's "War".
- At Rush Hour 2, Officer Carter starts to appreciate Beach Boys, Lee's favorite band.
- Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving: The chief invokes this trope to make it seem like he's impressed with Carter. He's actually quite angry, but is lying to get Carter to accept a humiliating assignment as a supposed reward.
- Artifact Title: There's only one scene in the first movie where the title makes sense. The title is completely ignored in the sequels.
- Artistic License Chemistry: C-4 is a plastic explosive known for being extremely stable, and cannot be detonated by burning or shooting it. A trunkload of the stuff would also make a much, much bigger boom than what we see in the movie.
- Artistic License Gun Safety: While staking out a restaurant in Chinatown, Lee passes the time by teaching Carter some pistol disarm moves. Their training prop is Carter's sidearm, with muzzle discipline thrown right out the window. We can only hope they cleared the weapon off-camera.
- Pretty much nobody seems able to keep their booger hook off the bang switch.
- Ass Shove: Heavily implied to have been done to the duo by Roman Polański's character in 3.
- Bad-Guy Bar: The Triad's bar in 2.
- Bar Brawl: The fight between Lee and the black thugs at the pool hall in the first movie.
- Bash Brothers: Lee and Carter start to demonstrate this in the second movie, where Carter's hand-to-hand skills have notably jumped up about 10 grades.
- Big Bad: Juntao AKA Thomas Griffin in the first film.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Ricky Tan and Steven Reign in the second film, although the latter tried to be The Starscream towards the end; Kenji and Vayden Reynard in the third film.
- Big Damn Heroes: George at the end of third film.
- Bilingual Backfire: In the third film, Carter says some downright obscene things to Genevieve, assuming she can't understand him, only for it to turn out that she speaks six languages.
- Bilingual Bonus: Several. For example, the name "Hu Li" translates to "fox."
- Borrowed Catchphrase: In the second film, Lee says, "Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?!" (a line Carter said in the first film).
- When the first film was shown on TV years ago, "shit" was dubbed over every line with "stuff" or "it". As of today, the explicit word is muted out except the Comcast (USA Network, Syfy, E!, Bravo) broadcasts of the film is left uncut.
- Brick Joke:
- In 3, Carter orders a gefilte fish on their flight, which he also ordered in the previous movie (where Chris Tucker had lots of trouble pronouncing it right, as shown in the outtakes).
- In the first movie, Carter argues with a Chinese vendor and the latter responds: "Chinese food, no soul food here!" In the next movie, Kenny, one of Carter's contacts, owns a Chinese/soul food restaurant.
- At the end of the first movie, Lee kisses his savior, Carter. Carter does the same thing in the second movie, to a wad of counterfeit cash kept in his pocket, which saves him from a fatal stab.
- Buddy Cop Show
- Bullying a Dragon: Carter tends to do this a lot.
- In 2, he breaks Ricky Tan's laptop which caused the Triad mooks to attack him (and Lee).
- Also in 2, he bursts in to Kenny's restaurant and humiliate him in front of his Chinese wife, children, and customers... then proceed to talk casually as if nothing happened. The thing is, unlike his Friend in the Black Market contact in 1, Kenny is not just a restaurant owner but also a martial arts expert. Granted, Carter expected a violent response, and already drew his gun and pointed it at Kenny's head in the time it took Kenny to take a fighting stance. He wasn't likely to shoot, but he sees bullying and goading as a valid interrogation tactic. ...Which isn't unheard of among police departments.
- In the first movie Lee and Carter are in Carter's car and Lee changes the radio station prompting Carter to yell "Don't you ever touch a black man's radio!". In the second movie the scene plays out again but with the roles reversed ("Don't you ever touch a Chinese man's CD!").
- The line, "I'll go this way, and you go that way." In the first film, this is spoken during the climactic shootout by Lee to tell Carter to keep the big bad's mooks at bay while Lee goes his way to save the vases. In the second, the line is used while the two were at the massage parlor just before the obligatory fight begins after botching the arrest of Ricky Tan. In the third, the line makes its return with a variation at the end of the film when the French officer who harassed them awhile back congratulates them for their efforts and tells them that "they can do anything they want." Carter then says "You go this way" and likewise Lee says "and I'll go that way," and they each deck the officer with a well-timed punch in unison before dancing off to the streets as Edwin Starr's "War" plays.
- The Cameo:
- Stunt coordinator George Kee Cheung (Soo Yong's driver) and Barry Shabaka Henley (the lock-up guard) in 1.
- Jeremy Piven, Don Cheadle (who took it under the condition he would get a brief sparring moment with Chan), Ernie Reyes Jr. (who plays a worker chased by Lee and Carter in the business suite), Saul Rubinek (as the casino box man), and Gianni Russo (as the pit boss) in 2,
- Roman Polański and Julie Depardieu in 3.
- Camp Gay: The store attendant in the second movie, played by Jeremy Piven. Should have been offensive. Instead, it managed to be hilarious. Even more so in the Hilarious Outtakes where he goes off on a tangent about doing naughty things to Jackie Chan (if he didn't have a girlfriend). Jackie's limited English didn't allow him to realize the inappropriate comments being made and Chris dissolved into laughter.
- Ceiling Cling: Parodied in the second film.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Done with an actual gun in the first film. Carter carries a second gun that's first played for laughs after he is disarmed, but pretty much saves his life at the end.
- Carter pockets counterfeit money for "evidence" late in the second film when he finds it. It ends up saving his life later when Hu-Li tries to stab him through the chest.
- Chekhov's Skill:
- Carter requests that Lee teach him the gun disarming skill Lee used on him earlier. Carter uses it later on a mook and even lampshades it "Didn't know I could do that, did you?"
- From the first film, Johnson's bomb defusing training comes in handy in the climax.
- Combat Hand Fan: A Triad assassin in the third movie carries one that is loaded with knives that she can also remove and throw.
- Combat Stilettos: Isabella in the second film, during the climax.
- Comically Missing the Point: In the first film, Carter hands Lee his ID badge in case anyone troubles him. Lee takes a look at it (which includes a picture of an afro-wearing Carter) and comments that it won't work because he's not 6'1".
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: When Carter and Lee finally manage to save Soo Yung in the first movie, a task that involves fighting through an army of mooks, the Big Bad, The Dragon, disarming a bomb, and surviving a near-death fall from the top of a building, the first thing she says to Lee after she punches his nuggets is "What took you so long!?"
- Cowboy Cop: Both Carter AND Lee.
- Especially Carter; he causes massive property damage, uses highly questionable investigation techniques, and doesn't bother hiding the fact he smokes weed.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Carter is generally loud, rude, and almost gleefully engages in Uncle Tom Foolery. He's also a competent investigator and insanely fast on the draw and a ridiculously good shot. He even defeats two accomplished martial artists who gave Lee trouble in 2 and 3.
- Crowd Hockey: The detonator in 2.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: A hilarious example in 3. Carter and Lee try to fight a tall Chinese man, but he easily tosses and spins them around. The tall man also grabs the weapons Carter tries to hit him with and does a curb-stomp (minus the curb).
- Cut the Safety Rope: Lee and Kenji's sword fight results in them hanging over of a net which is starting to rip. Lee tries his best to pull Kenji up to safety, but knowing that the net isn't strong enough to hold both of them Kenji forcibly lets go of his hand and falls to his death.
- Damsel in Distress: Soo Yung in the first AND third film. In the latter, she also doubles as Badass in Distress.
- Dark Action Girl: Hu Li in 2 and the Dragon Lady Jasmine in the third film.
- Darker and Edgier: Out of the whole trilogy, the first film takes the crown. The plot itself is more tense compared to the sequels.
- Denser and Wackier: Unlike the first film which had a bunch of hilarious yet dramatic moments, the sequels get much zanier.
- Description Cut: Early in the first movie, Lee tries to reassure Soo Yung, who's about to leave for the United States.Lee: And don't worry. America is a very friendly place.
[cut to Los Angeles]
Carter: [driving recklessly] Stupid fool! Get the hell out of my way!
- Designated Girl Fight: Between Isabella and Hu Li in the second film. Though unlike most fights, it doesn't last long, as Hu Li first kicks Isabella and then shoots her before going after Lee again.
- Disney Villain Death: Happens to all three of the main villains in the series, though usually with a bit more proof they didn't survive the impact than at Disney. Lampshaded several times by Carter:
- Immediately after the fall in 1, before saving Lee (also averting Soft Water):Carter: Whoooo, you know he dead!
- During the blooper reel of 2:Chris Tucker: Damn! He ain't gonna be in Rush Hour 3!
- Immediately after the fall in 1, before saving Lee (also averting Soft Water):
- Donut Mess with a Cop: In 1, Clive attempted to shoo two patrol cops away by insulting them to buy donuts.
- Double Knockout: It appears this happens towards the end of Rush Hour 2 as Hu-Li stabs Carter through the chest and gets hit by a halberd knocking her out. Then we find out that the large stacks of counterfeit money Carter kept in his pockets kept the sword from stabbing him.
- The Dragon: Sang (Ken Leung) in the first movie, Hu Li (Zhang Ziyi) in the second and Jasmine in the third. Hu Li and Jasmine also double as the Dragon Lady, especially Jasmine in the third film (she's actually credited as "Dragon Lady").
- Dragon Their Feet/Post-Climax Confrontation: At the end of Rush Hour 2, Lee and Carter are catching their breath after defeating the Big Bad, only for Hu Li to arrive with a bomb that's about to blow.
- Happens again in Rush Hour 3. After defeating both Kenji and Jasmine, Lee and Carter parachute to safety, only to find Reynard holding Genevieve hostage.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Carter's father, a legendary policeman by his son's retelling.Carter: My father was a legend. My father was killed during a routine traffic stop in broad daylight by some punk who didn't want no ticket! His partner was supposed to get out of the car to back him up but never did!
- Eagleland: Not so much in the first two movies, but in 3 Carter gets pretty obnoxiously Flavor 2; accusing all Iranians of being terrorists and forcing a Frenchman to sing the US anthem at gunpoint. In fairness though, Carter was responding to the French cab driver being a stereotypical French prick.
- Eagleland Osmosis: The French taxi driver in the third film thinks all Americans are violent action-movie-character stereotypes. Carter angrily holds him at gunpoint in response to his comments.
- Eiffel Tower Effect: The setting for the climatic battle at the end of the third film.
- Evil Brit: Thomas Griffin, aka Juntao in the first movie.
- Flanderization: Zig-zagged with James Carter, who went from being a loudmouthed and self-centered but sometimes-competent detective in the first movie to being a Small Name, Big Ego that's unable to take anything seriously in the second. The third film kind of mixes the two. And that's not even getting into the Uncle Tomfoolery. He remains a competent cop throughout the series, however.
- In the first film, his introduction consists of a botched arms deal (though it wasn't his fault), blowing up half a city block and getting two officers shot in the process. If anything he gets more competent as the films go on, not less, as he learns to work with a partner and exercise some degree of self-control.
- In the second movie he correctly guesses that the owner of the casino was in league with Ricky Tan ("follow the rich white man") and even manages to last in a fight against Hu-Li.
- In 3 he also is able to find the location of a club (if not by accident) that a mook only gives a vague address of, defeats several Triad bosses (on his own) and rescues Soo Yung (again). It should also be noted that his antics actually get him demoted to traffic duty by number 3.
- Follow That Car: Seen in 2, when Carter orders a taxi driver to follow a car. The driver doesn't move and keeps speaking Chinese to him (with no subtitles for non-Chinese-speaking viewers). After a few back-and-forth exchanges, Carter slips him some money and the driver says, in English, "Now you're speaking my language" and steps on the gas. As a Bilingual Bonus, the Chinese phrase that the driver repeated to Carter translates to "Money first."
- Formula with a Twist: This film is a late example of a Buddy Cop film that distinguishes itself by making its two stars Black and Asian (Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker) and incorporating elements of a Martial Arts Movie into its DNA.
- French Jerk: The officer played by Roman Polański.
- Freudian Slip: Carter, when discussing the funny money with Isabella, who's in only her underwear and bathrobe:Isabella: Carter, this is your city, right?
Carter: Yeah, this is my titty. I mean, this is my city.
- Gangbangers: In the first film, the black bartender and patrons with whom Lee fights because he accidentally insulted them and later, Sang's thugs at the restaurant he owns with whom Lee and Carter both fight.
- Gay Moment: Lee gratefully kisses Carter's cheeks a few times after he's rescued by Carter's quick thinking at the end of the first film. Carter, having just had Lee collide with his crotch, throws him off.Carter: Man, what the hell you doin'?!
Lee: I was just... being polite.
Carter: Well, next time, be polite to my nuts!
- Glove Snap: Done by French airport security in 3.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Sang gets scarred by Soo Yung while kidnapping her, as she whips his face with the necklace Lee gave her.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Carter and Lee, bordering on Ho Yay. Brett Ratner even referred to the movie as a love story between the two.
- Hidden Weapons: After Sang challenges Carter to a fistfight, they both drop the guns they are holding. Sang then pulls a pistol, but Carter kills him with a Smith & Wesson model 36 revolver that he had concealed in an ankle holster.
- Hilarious Outtakes: The series is known for showing various moments of hilarity that didn't make it into the film for obvious reasons.
- Hostage MacGuffin: Soo Yung in the first movie. There's a moment of Lampshade Hanging when Chris Tucker's character is on the phone discussing the ransom payment with the girl's kidnapper: "Fifty million dollars? Who do you think you've got? Chelsea Clinton?"
- Hotter and Sexier:
- The second film. The duo go to a massage parlor with a bevy of scantily-clad ladies. Isabella strips down to her bra and underwear in one scene, and opens her bathrobe later on in the scene. Carter and Lee are stripped buck naked and kicked out of a car on a busy freeway. This is all especially notable since the first film was largely free of sexual content, aside from a joke or two from Carter.
- The third film also counts: It's the only film in the franchise to have a sex scene (or more accurately, a near sex scene). Then there are the topless dancers that Carter (posing as a costumer) inspects.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- In the first film, Stucky is greatly annoyed at being accosted by Carter while on the job, going so far as to call it harassment. What's Stucky's job? Peddling celebrity house maps to prospective stalkers.
- Again in the first film. Carter derides the Chinese food he receives as being greasy, before asking the vendor if he has any chicken wings, baby back ribs or fries.
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Hilariously subverted in the second film. Towards the end, Lee has Ricky Tan at gunpoint when Carter shows up and Ricky asks Lee if he wants to learn how his father had died. Carter tells Lee to not lose it, but when Ricky insults his father, Carter goes "Aww hell no, he done went too far now Lee. Shoot his ass, Lee. Shoot his ASS!"
- Immigrant Patriotism: Kenji's parents were killed by the Japanese Yakuza; as a result, he's become a highly loyal Triad member.
- Impersonating an Officer: The kidnapping of Soo Yung is carried out this way, with henchmen posing as traffic cops redirecting the vehicle she's in onto a side street. Then a police car pulls out in front of them, driven by "Officer" Sang, who shoots the driver and bodyguard and tries to grab Soo Yung, who fights back and tries to run, only to be picked up by a henchman on a motorcycle and thrown into the back of a white van.
- Improvised Zipline: Used to escape an explosion in the second movie.
- Innocently Insensitive: Lee finds out the hard way that "What's up, my nigga?" is not a good way to break the ice in a bar full of black patrons (at least when you're not black yourself). The guys who attack Lee then find out the hard way that when a guy played by Jackie Chan makes that mistake, it's best to just let it slide.
- Ironic Echo:
- When Carter told Sang and his goons in the Foo Chow restaurant to "put their guns down and fight like a man." Sang would later tell Carter the same thing in the expo when they face each other.
- When Sang is about to kill Carter above the restaurant, he throws a handkerchief to him and says "Wipe yourself off. You're bleeding." Later, after killing the man in a shootout at the expo, Carter tosses a handkerchief on him and says: "Wipe yourself off, man. You dead."
- When Lee first speaks English, Carter accuses Lee of lying to him about not speaking English. Lee replies, "I never said I didn't. You assumed I didn't." At the end of the movie, when Carter and Lee are aboard a plane, Carter speaks Chinese to a flight attendant and a surprised Lee says, "I didn't know you spoke Chinese!" Carter replies with a smile, "I never said I didn't. You assumed I didn't."
- It's All Junk: Throughout the second movie, Lee has kept his father's cop badge as a Tragic Keepsake, but in the end, after defeating Ricky Tan, he offers it to Carter. At first, Carter refuses because of how important it's been to Lee, but when Lee says he doesn't need it anymore, Carter accepts it.
- Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: Carter dresses as a United Airlines mechanic to get on the plane to retrieve Lee in the first movie.
- Japanese Tourist: There's a busload of them in the first movie. They merrily take pictures even as Carter climbs into the back of their bus and tries to retrieve Lee at gunpoint. For extra hilarity, Carter even stops chasing Lee for a few seconds to pose for them.
- The FBI agents in the first movie.
- The Gangbangers at the pool hall in the first film who assault Lee when he innocently greets the bartender with the words "Wassup, my nigga?". Even if they were genuinely offended by the comment, trying to beat up (and possibly kill) him is certainly a case of Disproportionate Retribution, to say the least.
- The taxi driver that Carter runs into in Hong Kong, who pretends he doesn't know English but speaks it when Carter pays him. He also drives off with Carter's chicken, after the latter told him to stay.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- Carter. He's loud, obnoxious, and has a bit of an ego problem, but he genuinely cares about upholding the law and is a good friend to Lee.
- In the first film, Clive is guilted into giving information on Juntao after being shown a picture of Soo Yung.
- Kung-Shui: Naturally occurs in the Bar Brawl between Lee and the bartender and patrons at the pool hall in the first film. Interestingly inverted during the climactic showdown with Juntao in which Lee squares off against Juntao's henchmen in a room filled with priceless artwork, and Lee goes out of his way not to break anything.
- MacGuffin Melee: The Red Dragon Casino fight, involving a bomb detonator.
- Made Out to Be a Jerkass: Carter gives Lee a hard time in Rush Hour 2 about working cases during his holiday and the audience is supposed to feel sympathy for Lee as Ricky Tan killed his father. However it is worth pointing out that Lee told Carter that his supervisor invited them both to a party and then took Carter to a Triad bar without telling him the situation putting his life in danger as Carter assumed that the place would be full of police or normal people and might have revealed he was a policeman with his friend another policeman to a girl.
- The Man Behind the Man: Discussed in the second movie as a theory Carter calls "Follow the rich white man," which is that "Behind every crime is a rich white man waiting for his cut." He turns out to be right in this particular instance. In fact, every movie in the series has at least one "rich white man" involved in the evil scheme.
- Misfit Mobilization Moment: Occurs in the first movie when Carter convinces Lee to stay in Los Angeles and continue the case.
- Mistaken for Gay: Carter and Lee are assumed to be a couple by a Camp Gay store attendant in the second movie, who "loves it when couples match."
- Mistaken for Racist: Happens in the first movie when the two go to a pool hall. Carter, who's known by the patrons, greets them by saying "What's up, mah nigga?" While Carter goes into a back room to interrogate a source, Lee tries to start a friendly chat with the bartender using the same line. Since this is a Jackie Chan movie, fighting ensues.note
- Mock Millionaire: In the second movie, Carter tries to impress a beautiful girl at a yacht party by pretending to be the yacht's owner. Later, he spends (counterfeit) money like a madman at the Red Dragon casino to distract the other gamblers.
- Monumental Battle: The fight on the Eiffel Tower at the end of the third film.
- Mood Whiplash: Only seconds after Soo Yung's exuberant, hilarious singing-along to Fantasy in the car, she's screaming as Sang mercilessly shoots her two bodyguards in the head and tries to kidnap her.
- Mr. Fanservice: The second film treats us to several scenes of a shirtless Carter in a massage parlor.
- Ms. Fanservice: Isabella Molina in the second film as played by Roselyn Sánchez. She even has a lengthy scene where she strips down to her Black Bra and Panties while Lee and Carter watch.
- My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad: In the first movie, Lee and Carter get into an argument about their deceased fathers, culminating in this:Carter: Your daddy was a cop?
Lee: Not a cop. An officer. A legend. All over Hong Kong.
Carter: My daddy [is] a legend too. All over America. My daddy once arrested 15 people in one night. By himself.
Lee: My daddy arrest[ed] 25 by himself.
Carter: My daddy saved 5 crackheads from a burning building. By himself.
Lee: My daddy once caught a bullet with his bare hands.
Carter: [Beat] My daddy'll kick your daddy's ass all the way from here to China or Japan - wherever the hell you're from - and all up that Great Wall too.
Lee: Hey, don't talk about my father.
Carter: Don't talk about my daddy.
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Thanks to his poor poor Cantonese, Carter invited two girls to get naked and sacrifice a small goat instead of having a drink. He also told the entire triad bar to take out their Samurai swords and shave his butt. It's heavily implied that he bought the wrong Chinese-To-English translation book before their trip to Hong Kong.
- Naked People Are Funny: Demonstrated in 2 when Carter and Lee are stripped of their clothes and forced to run back to the police station with only a trash can lid and newspaper as their coverings.
- Next Sunday A.D.: The ending of the 1 is inadvertently this as the sequel takes place immediately after it and was released in 2001.
- Noodle Incident: Isabella, the Secret Service agent from 2, is mentioned in 3. Though it seem she had a falling out with the two and the most we hear on the reason is that Carter accidentally shot her. And apparently left her temporarily brain dead. Ouch.
- Not So Above It All: In the second film, Lee is spying on Isabella after Reign when she starts to undress. Despite typically being portrayed as being more mature and respectful of women than Carter, Lee continues watching her and is quite obviously enjoying it.
- N-Word Privileges: See Mistaken for Racist above.
- Odd Couple: Pretty much the main reason why these movies exist.
- Oh, Crap!:
- During the scene described under Glove Snap above.
- In the second film, Lee whispers "oh shit!" when he sees a surveillance camera next to him during the Ceiling Cling while attempting to infiltrate the Red Dragon casino. Also, when he went into the treasury room just seconds later, he had this reaction when the monitors started displaying him in the screen and marked him as an intruder.
- Not only that, but notice that while Lee was on top of the security case before the Ceiling Cling, there were cameras on every open section of the ceiling.
- One of Our Own: In the first film, the patrol cops who attempt to arrest both Carter and Clive are apparently unaware that Carter is working undercover in a sting operation to arrest Clive for selling explosives.
- Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: In the first film, after Lee and Carter inadvertently screw up the FBI's plan. This also happens in the second movie after the massage parlor incident, then in the third movie after escaping from the sewers.
- Pocket Protector: In the second movie during Carter's fight with Hu-Li. Carter is stabbed in the chest, but saved by the wad of counterfeit bills he had in his jacket's breast pocket.Carter: Thank you, Benjamin. Thank you.
- Politically Incorrect Hero:
- Carter sometimes crosses into this, such as his Chivalrous Pervert/Casanova Wannabe towards many women throughout the films which would make you think that he saw all women as sex workers of some sorts or potential sexual partners. He's also disgusted and immediately assumes Genevieve is a man or transgender just because she's bald and wears wig. He does have his limits, though, as he treats Consul Han and Soo Yung with respect and affection, respectively, and when Soo Yung has grown up, he never flirts with her and instead acts like Papa Wolf towards her.
- The FBI in the first movie. Their reasons for not wanting the help of Lee boil down to a mix of wounded ego and plain-old racism at having to work with some "Chung King cop" rather than solve the case themselves.
- Priceless Ming Vase: Lee puts a lot of effort into protecting one in the first movie while also fighting Juntao's men. He barely succeeds... and then a random bullet destroys it.Lee: SHIT!
- Pronoun Trouble / Who's on First?: In Rush Hour 3, this was done in a dojo when Carter was speaking with Master Yu and Sifu Mi.Carter: Who are you?
Carter: No, not me, you!
Yu: Yes, I am Yu.
Carter: Just answer the damn question! Who are you?
Yu: I have told you!
Carter: Are you deaf?
Yu: No, Yu is blind.
Carter: I'm not blind, you blind.
Yu: That is what I just said.
Carter: You just said what?Yu: I did not say "what", I said "Yu"!Carter: That's what I'm asking you!Yu: And Yu is answering!Carter: Shut up! (to Mi) You!Yu: Yes?Carter: Not you, him! What's your name, man?Mi: Mi.Carter: Yes, you!Mi: I am Mi.Yu: He's Mi, and I'm Yu.
Carter: Who died?Lee: You!Carter: Detective Yu?Lee: Not Yu, YOU!Carter: Who?Lee: YOU!Carter: Who?
- Rush Hour 2 did it in the opposite direction, when discussing Carter's apparent death.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: In the first movie:Carter: Do you! Understand! The words! That are coming out of my mouth?!
- Racial Face Blindness: In 2, after hitting Lee (played by Jackie Chan) by mistake in the massage parlor fight, Carter (who is black) says "All y'all look alike!"
- Reality Ensues: Carter's superiors have little patience with his Cowboy Cop attitude and by the third movie, he is demoted to traffic officer. Similarly, Lee can only tolerate with Carter for so long but the last straw was when Carter shot Lee's girlfriend in between the second and third movies and the two are pretty much estranged.
- Reassignment Backfire: The FBI wanted Carter to keep Lee away from their investigation. Instead, Lee and Carter save Soo Yung and expose her kidnappers themselves.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Carter and Lee. It is more prominent in the third movie due to Lee wearing dark blue suits and Carter wearing dark red suits. It's taken Up to Eleven when they are using the French flag to escape from the Triad goons; guess which side Lee and Carter are on.
- Running Gag:
- Carter imitating Michael Jackson, which is done at least once in all three films.
- In the outtakes of 2, Chris Tucker, in character as Carter, keeps addressing Jackie Chan as "Jackie" instead of "Lee." In the final outtake, Don Cheadle eventually has enough.
- Carter's Medium Awareness in the bloopers:<Ricky Tan's body hits the car>Carter/Tucker: Damn! He ain't gonna be in Rush Hour 3!
Carter/Tucker: I'm not your brother? All the stuff we've been through? Rush Hour 1, Rush Hour 2?
- Also, every time Lee has a gun and is about to shoot someone with it, he either consistently gets disarmed or holds back himself from pulling the trigger due to either an obligatory fight scene, plot reasons, or having moral issues. Carter is the only one of the two depicted as being more than happy to pull the trigger.
- The Big Bad of each movie fought with Lee from a high spot and fell to their death. Lee (and Carter in the sequels) nearly suffer the same fate.
- Sadly Mythtaken: Steven Reign made an opening speech by telling a story about a dragon who guarded his treasure hoard until it grew too big and got stuck. Ricky Tan claims to have been told this same story as a child and the casino appears to be Chinese themed. The problem is, this story is actually about Fafnir.
- Save the Villain: Lee and Kenji's sword fight results in them hanging over of a net which is starting to rip. Lee tries his best to pull Kenji up to safety, but knowing that the net isn't strong enough to hold both of them Kenji forcibly lets go of his hand and falls to his death.
- Sequel Goes Foreign: While all three movies are set in Los Angeles for the most part, the second movie is set in Hong Kong (at least in Act 1) and the third movie went to Paris.
- Sequel Non-Entity: Tania Johnson is absent from the second and third films.
- She Is All Grown Up: Carter has this reaction in 3 after seeing Soo Yung for the first time in nine years. Surprisingly, he doesn't hit on her. In fact he acts as something of a Papa Wolf towards her.
- Consul Han's full name is Solon Han. What does that sound like?
- Also, the line "Now you're speaking my language" spoken by a Chinese man.
- Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: For obvious reasons, Roman Polański's role in part three as a French officer was kept pretty quiet.
- Smart Cop, Dumb Cop: The two main leads have this dynamic. Lee is a competent, sensible and disciplined Hong Kong cop with an admirable record. Carter, while having the occasional moment of brilliance, is mostly loud, arrogant, impetuous and ignorant which often results in him and Lee getting into easily avoidable trouble.
- Soul Brotha: Carter.
- Spiritual Successor:
- To Chan's earlier Police Story franchise.
- To the 1997 film Drive, starring Mark Dacascos, a woefully underrated (and relatively unknown) action film from The '90s. Brett Ratner even admitted that the only reason Rush Hour got made without legal complications is that almost no one knows it exists. Fans of Rush Hour and action films in general should definitely check it out, but only the Director's Cut. Long story.
- Springtime for Hitler: Jackie Chan has gone on record that he didn't think Rush Hour would be as successful as it became. He did the film to test the American market. He also admitted to not understanding a good portion of the jokes in the films.
- Stab the Salad: Before fighting Carter towards the end of the second movie, Hu Li grabs a chopstick, holding it menacingly, only to use it to tie her hair back.
- Strapped to a Bomb: At the climax, Soo Yung's kidnappers outfit her with a vest covered in C4 charges, rigged to go off if triggered via remote or if the vest is removed. A variation also occurs in the second movie, where a small bomb is planted inside of Lee's mouth and sealed with tape.
- Suddenly SHOUTING!: Delivered by Carter as an intended Pre Ass Kicking One Liner in the second movie. It doesn't save him from getting One-Hit KO'd by Hu Li's mighty foot.Carter: I'm gonna give you an L.A.P.D. ASS-KICKIN'! *POW*
- Taught by Television: The taxi driver in the third movie, during the first chase scene.
- Technical Pacifist: Averted in 2. One of the fight scenes focuses on everyone in the room trying to get their hand on a gun. A behind-the-scenes DVD featurette shows that the script originally called for Chan's character to have the gun fall in his hand, and then throw it away in disgust. Chan rightly pointed out that, given the fight going on in the room, throwing it away was "stupid."
- Tempting Fate:
Lee: Don't worry, Chinese bamboo... is very strong!
- In the first film, Lee threatens that nothing better happen to all the priceless Chinese art and artifacts. Carter reassures him: "Don't worry, ain't nothin' gonna happen to any of this stuff." Only a couple minutes later, a huge gunfight erupts in the room, which destroys many of the items.
- In the second film, when Lee and Carter are hanging on a bamboo in Literal Cliffhanger-like situation:
[the bamboo begins to tear apart)Carter: W-Whoaa! L-Lee, are you sure!?Lee: [hopelessly] Y-Yes, I'm sure![the bamboo tears apart in two and the duo falls]
- Title Drop: In the first movie.[Sang stops Soo Yung's car, dressed as a cop]
Soo Yung's Driver: Is there a problem, officer?
Sang: No problem. Just rush hour.
[Sang shoots both guards and abducts Soo Yung]
- To the Pain: In the second movie, Lee explains to Carter how the Triads will torture them.Lee: First, they will torture us for 3 days...
Carter: I can take that...
Lee: Then, they will cut off our eggrolls.Carter: Cut off our egg rolls?! Aw hell no! Let's get the hell outta here!
- Too Dumb to Live: When Reign betrays Tan and takes the plates, he shows him he has a gun as a warning. But does he take the gun out, point it at Tan and keep his distance? No, he keeps it under his pants, walks right up to Tan where he could've easily taken his gun from him. Or stab him in the gut (which he does).
- Took a Level in Badass: Carter has two black belts by the third movie. He shows this near the end where he manages to single-handedly defeat a group of Kenji's goons in hand-to-hand-combat. Soo Yung also has her moments in the third movie with the exception at the end of the film.
- Trademark Favorite Food: In the first movie, Lee orders Chinese food from a roadside merchant for the both of them, causing Carter to complain about the grease. The merchant's reply? "Chinese food. No soul food here."
- Translation by Volume: Carter did this to Lee when they first met:Carter: DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORDS THAT ARE COMIN' OUT OF MY MOUTH?!
- Transgender: Carter is falsely under the impression that Genevieve is one in the third film when she removes her wig to reveal that she's bald.
- The Triads and the Tongs: They are prevalent in the first two films. They also appear in the third, although rather unusually, they don't even speak in their native Chinese tongue but in French.
- Truth in Television:
- The taxi driver in 3 isn't actually all that far off from what some foreigners think of Americans.
- French-speaking Asian people aren't exactly rare in real life, unlike what Carter thinks. French is one of the most popular foreign languages, besides English, in many Asian countries.
- T-Word Euphemism: Played with in Rush Hour 3. Carter and Lee are interrogating a man who speaks only French, so they enlist a nun, who's fluent in French, to translate. So, naturally, when she translates the prisoner's taunts, she summarizes with, "He used the N-word." For the rest of the scene, Carter and Lee ask her to translate things like, "tell this piece of S-word that I'll personally F-word him up", complete with brief stops to determine the spelling of some of the words. Lee eventually loses patience and hypocritically tells the nun "Just call him an asshole!"
- Uncle Tomfoolery: Carter, especially in the later movies.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The films are fun action-comedies, but the villains are treated pretty seriously. Thomas Griffin in particular is a rather serious threat.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Lee and Carter become this by the end of the first film.
- Waxing Lyrical: Carter says the lyrics to "Lady Marmalade" when in bed with Genevieve in the third film.Carter: Voulez-vous coucher avec moi...
- Who's on First?: He is Mi and I am Yu.
- Wok Fu: There's a fight followed by a chase through a Chinese restaurant.
- Wouldn't Hit a Woman: Subverted in the second film; Carter keeps getting KO-ed by Hu Li, and finally loses his patience at the casino:Carter: I'm gonna pretend you a man. A very beautiful man with a perfect body that I'd like to take to the movies.