Rush Hour (1998 film)

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Rush Hour
Rush Hour poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBrett Ratner
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story byRoss LaManna
Music byLalo Schifrin
CinematographyAdam Greenberg
Edited byMark Helfrich
Distributed byNew Line Cinema[1]
Release date
  • September 18, 1998 (1998-09-18)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States[2]
Budget$33–35 million[3][4]
Box office$244.4 million[3]

Rush Hour is a 1998 American action comedy film directed by Brett Ratner and written by Jim Kouf and Ross LaManna from a story by LaManna. It stars Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker as mismatched police officers who are assigned to rescue a Chinese diplomat's abducted daughter. Tzi Ma, Tom Wilkinson, Ken Leung, Mark Rolston, Elizabeth Peña and Rex Linn play supporting roles. Released on September 18, 1998, the film grossed over $244 million worldwide. The film's success led to two sequels: Rush Hour 2 (2001) and Rush Hour 3 (2007).


On the last day of British rule of Hong Kong in 1997, Detective Inspector Lee of the Hong Kong Police Force leads a raid at the wharf, hoping to arrest the unidentified, anonymous crime lord Juntao. He finds only Sang, Juntao's right-hand man, who escapes. Lee recovers numerous Chinese cultural treasures stolen by Juntao, which he presents as a farewell victory to his departing superiors, Chinese Consul Solon Han and British Commander Thomas Griffin.

Shortly after Han takes up his new diplomatic post in Los Angeles, his daughter Soo Yung is kidnapped by Sang. Han calls in Lee to assist in the case, but the FBI, afraid Lee’s involvement could result in an international incident, pawn him off on the LAPD. Detective James Carter is tricked into ‘babysitting’ Lee as punishment for botching a sting operation; when Carter discovers this, he decides to solve the case himself.

Carter takes Lee on a sightseeing tour, keeping him away from the embassy while contacting informants about the kidnapping. Lee makes his own way to the Chinese Consulate, where Han and the FBI await news about his daughter. While arguing with Agent-in-charge Warren Russ, Carter accidentally involves himself in a phone conversation with Sang, where he arranges a ransom drop of $50 million.

The FBI traces the call to a warehouse, where a team of agents are killed by plastic explosive. Spotting Sang nearby, Lee and Carter give chase but Sang escapes, dropping the detonator. Carter's colleague, LAPD bomb expert Tania Johnson, traces the detonator to Clive, a man previously arrested by Carter. Lee guilt-trips Clive into revealing his business relationship with Juntao whom he met at a restaurant in Chinatown, and earns Carter's trust. Carter goes to the restaurant alone and sees a surveillance video of Juntao carrying Soo Yung into a van. Lee arrives and saves Carter from Juntao's syndicate, but they are taken off the case after the FBI blames them for ruining the ransom drop, with Lee sent back to Hong Kong.

Carter appeals to Johnson for assistance and sneaks onboard Lee's plane, persuading him to help finish the case and stop Juntao. Griffin later involves himself in the case, revealing more about the HKPF's past with Juntao's syndicate, and implores Han to pay the ransom to avoid further bloodshed.

At the opening of a Chinese art exhibition at the Los Angeles Convention Center, overseen by Han and Griffin, the now $70 million ransom is delivered and Carter, Lee, and Johnson enter disguised as guests. Carter distracts the guests into leaving for their own safety, angering the FBI, but Lee catches Griffin accepting a remote for the detonator from Sang. Lee and Johnson conclude that Griffin is Juntao when Carter recognizes him from the Chinatown surveillance tape. Griffin threatens to detonate a bomb vest attached to Soo Yung, and demands the ransom be paid in full, as compensation for the priceless Chinese artifacts he preserved from Lee's raid. Carter manages to sneak out, locate Soo Yung in the van, and drive it into the building within range of Griffin, knowing that setting off the vest would kill him as well.

Johnson manages to get the vest off Soo Yung while Griffin heads to the roof with the bag of money. Lee takes the vest and pursues Griffin, while Carter shoots Sang dead in a gunfight. Lee catches up to Griffin, resulting in a brief altercation that culminates in the two dangling from the rafters. Griffin, holding onto the vest, falls to his death when the vest breaks, but when Lee falls, Carter is able to catch him with a large flag.

Han and Soo Yung are reunited, and Han sends Carter and Lee on vacation to Hong Kong as a reward. Before Carter leaves, Agents Russ and Whitney offer him a position in the FBI, which he mockingly refuses. Carter boards the airplane with Lee, who annoys him by singing Edwin Starr's "War".


  • Jackie Chan as Detective Inspector Yang Naing Lee,a top Hong Kong cop who comes to Los Angeles to help his friend find his kidnapped daughter.
  • Chris Tucker as Detective James Carter, a fast talking street-smart LAPD Detective originally assigned by the FBI to babysit Lee and keep him out of their investigation.
  • Tom Wilkinson as Thomas Griffin/Juntao, a British Diplomat and colleague of Han who is secretly the top crime-lord in Hong Kong and head of the Juntao Criminal Organization.
  • Tzi Ma as Consul Solon Han, Soo Yung's father and a Hong Kong Diplomat who has just moved to Los Angeles.
  • Ken Leung as Sang, Juntao's second in command.
  • Elizabeth Peña as Detective Tania Johnson, Carter's partner of the LAPD and aspiring bomb squad technician.
  • Mark Rolston as FBI Special Agent Warren Russ
  • Rex Linn as FBI Agent Dan Whitney
  • Chris Penn as Clive Cobb
  • Philip Baker Hall as Captain William Diel
  • Julia Hsu as Soo Yung Han, Consul Han's daughter who is kidnapped by a criminal organization. She is also a martial arts student of Lee's.
  • John Hawkes as Stucky, Carter's informat
  • Clifton Powell as Luke, Carter's cousin and local crime lord.
  • Barry Shabaka Henley as Bobby, a security guard.


Rush Hour began as a spec script written in 1995 by screenwriter Ross LaManna. The screenplay was sold by LaManna's William Morris agent Alan Gasmer to Hollywood Pictures, a division of the Walt Disney Company, with Arthur Sarkissian attached as producer. After attaching director Ratner and developing the project for more than a year with producers including Sarkissian and Roger Birnbaum, Disney Studios Chief Joe Roth put the project into turnaround, citing concerns about the $34-million budget, and Chan's appeal to American audiences. At the time Martin Lawrence was attached to the project. Several studios were interested in acquiring the project. New Line Cinema was confident in Ratner, having done Money Talks with him, so they made a hard commitment to a budget and start date for Rush Hour.[5]

After the success of Rumble in the Bronx, Brett Ratner wanted to put Jackie Chan in a buddy-cop movie, not as a co-star or sidekick but as on equal footing with an American star. Ratner flew to South Africa where Chan was filming and pitched the film. A few days later Chan agreed to star in the film and not long after flew to Los Angeles and met Chris Tucker.[6] Ratner credited Tucker with getting his first feature film Money Talks and thought Tucker and Chan would make a great team.[7]


Box office[edit]

Rush Hour opened at No. 1 at the North American box office with a weekend gross of $33 million in September 1998. Rush Hour grossed over $140 million in the US and $103 million in the rest of the world, for a total worldwide gross over $244 million.[3][8]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a score of 60% based on 73 reviews and an average rating of 6/10. The website's "Critics Consensus" describes the film as "[A] kick-ass addition to the cop-buddy film genre."[9] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 60 out of 100 based on 23 reviews.[10] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[11]

Roger Ebert praised both Jackie Chan, for his entertaining action sequences without the use of stunt doubles, and Chris Tucker, for his comical acts in the film, and how they formed an effective comedic duo.[12] Joe Leydon of Variety called it "a frankly formulaic but raucously entertaining action comedy". Leydon is critical of the editing: "the editing works against Chan by breaking up the flow of his frenzied physicality."[13] Charles Taylor of is critical of Hollywood misusing Jackie Chan: "Chan is a one-of-a-kind performer: Bruce Lee crossed with Donald O'Connor in the "Make 'em Laugh" number from "Singin' in the Rain." Hollywood needs to stop treating him as if he were one of those fondue sets given as wedding gifts in the '70s: a foreign novelty shoved in a closet due to absolute cluelessness about what to do with it."[14]

Michael O'Sullivan of the Washington Post calls the film "A misbegotten marriage of sweet and sour" and "The problem is it can't make up its mind and, unlike Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, the sharply contrasting flavors of these ingredients only leave a bad taste in the customer's mouth." O'Sullivan says Tucker is miscast, the script "perfunctory and sloppy", and the direction "limp, lethargic".[15] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a grade "C-" and was critical of the buddy comedy saying "The two characters barely even have a relationship; they're a union of demographics--the "urban" market meets the slapstick-action market."[16]

Chan has expressed dissatisfaction with the film: "I didn’t like the movie. I still don’t like the movie." Chan continued: "I don’t like the way I speak English, and I don’t know what Chris Tucker is saying". Although he respects the box-office success of Rush Hour, Chan said he preferred the films he made in his native Hong Kong because they delivered more fight scenes: "If you see my Hong Kong movies, you know what happens: Bam bam bam, always Jackie Chan-style, me, 10 minutes of fighting."[17][18][19]

Cultural influence[edit]

Rush Hour was the catalyst for the creation of the review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. Senh Duong, the website's founder and a Jackie Chan fan, was inspired to create the website after collecting all the reviews of Chan's Hong Kong action films as they were being released in the United States. In anticipation for Rush Hour, Chan's first major Hollywood crossover, he coded the website in two weeks and the site went live shortly before the film's release.[20][21]


A sequel Rush Hour 2, was released in 2001, which was primarily set in Hong Kong. A third film, Rush Hour 3, was released on August 10, 2007,[22] which was primarily set in Paris. Tucker earned $25 million for his role in the third film and Chan received the film's distribution rights in Asia.[18]

In 2007, before the release of Rush Hour 3, Ratner was optimistic about making a fourth film and potentially having it set in Moscow.[23] In 2017 Chan agreed to a potential script for Rush Hour 4 after years of turning down scripts.[24][25][26]


Edwin Starr's "War" was used as the ending theme for the film.

The film's soundtrack features the hit single "Can I Get A..." by Jay-Z, Ja Rule and Amil, as well as tracks by Flesh-n-Bone, Wu-Tang Clan, Dru Hill, Charli Baltimore and Montell Jordan.

The official soundtrack album was also a success, certified platinum on January 21, 1999.


Home media[edit]


Release date Country Classification Publisher Format Language Subtitles Notes Reference
15 June 1999 United States PG-13 New Line Home Video NTSC English None [28]
18 October 1999 United Kingdom 12 Eiv PAL English None [29]


Release date Country Classification Publisher Format Region Language Sound Subtitles Notes Reference
2 March 1999 United States PG-13 New Line Home Video NTSC 1 English Unknown English Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16:9) [30]
1 October 1999 United Kingdom 12 Eiv PAL 2 English Unknown English Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1 (16:9) [31]


Release date Country Classification Publisher Format Region Language Sound Subtitles Notes References
1 September 2005 United Kingdom 12 Eiv PAL 2 English Unknown English [32]
3 January 2006 United States PG-13 New Line Home Entertainment NTSC 1 English Unknown English [33]


Release date Country Classification Publisher Format Region Language Sound Subtitles Notes Reference
11 October 2010 United Kingdom 15 Warner Home Video PAL Free English Unknown English Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 (16:9) [34]
7 December 2010 United States PG-13 New Line Home Video NTSC Free English Unknown English Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 (16:9) [35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rush Hour". American Film Institute. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  2. ^ "Rush Hour (1998)". British Film Institute. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Rush Hour". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 25, 2006.
  4. ^ "Rush Hour (1998)". The Numbers.
  5. ^ Eller, Claudia (October 6, 1998). "Studios Were in Passing Lane for 'Rush Hour'". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ Alex Pappademas (October 3, 2017). "Jackie Chan's Plan to Keep Kicking Forever". GQ.
  7. ^ Clement, Nick (January 19, 2017). "Crowd-Pleasing Hits Pepper Walk of Fame Honoree Brett Ratner's Resume". Variety.
  8. ^ Wolk, Josh (September 28, 1998). "Losers Take All". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 24, 2010.
  9. ^ "Rush Hour (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
  10. ^ "Rush Hour". Metacritic. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  11. ^ "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (September 18, 1998). "Rush Hour". Retrieved June 25, 2006.
  13. ^ Leydon, Joe (September 21, 1998). "Review: 'Rush Hour'". Variety. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
  14. ^ Charles Taylor (September 18, 1998). "Hong Kong Hollywood". Salon.
  15. ^ Michael O'Sullivan (September 18, 1998). "'Rush Hour': Slow Going". Washington Post. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  16. ^ Owen Glieberman (September 25, 1998). "Rush Hour". Entertainment Weekly.
  17. ^ Hugh Hart (September 8, 2002). "His Career Is No Stunt". Los Angeles Times.
  18. ^ a b Associated Press (September 30, 2007). " – Jackie Chan Admits He Is Not a Fan of 'Rush Hour' Films – Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Arts And Entertainment". Fox News. Archived from the original on November 9, 2007.
  19. ^ Clarence Tsui (December 13, 2012). "Jackie Chan Calls for Curbs on Political Freedom in Hong Kong". The Hollywood Reporter. I dislike Rush Hour the most, but ironically it sold really well
  20. ^ "20 Years Later, Rush Hour Is Still a Buddy-Cop Gem". Rotten Tomatoes. September 18, 2018.
  21. ^ Semley, John (2018). Hater: On the Virtues of Utter Disagreeability. Penguin Books. pp. 26–27. ISBN 978-0-7352-3617-2.
  22. ^ "Chan Says Tucker Holding Up Rush Hour 3". The Associated Press. July 10, 2005. Retrieved June 25, 2006.
  23. ^ ""Rush Hour 4" is Set in Moscow". August 2, 2007.
  24. ^ Shirley Li (October 6, 2017). "Jackie Chan teases that 'Rush Hour 4' is close to being a reality". EW.
  25. ^ Chris Tilly (August 13, 2014). "Jackie Chan Downplays Talk of Rush Hour 4 and Drunken Master 3". IGN.
  26. ^ "Jackie Chan Says Rush Hour 4 Is Happening, but There's a Catch". E! Online.
  27. ^ "1999 MTV Movie Awards". MTV. Retrieved October 24, 2010.
  28. ^ Rush Hour [VHS] (1998). ISBN 0-7806-2371-1.
  29. ^ "Rush Hour [VHS] [1998]". Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  30. ^ Rush Hour (New Line Platinum Series) (1998). ISBN 0-7806-2514-5.
  31. ^ "Rush Hour [DVD] [1998]". Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  32. ^ "Rush Hour [UMD Mini for PSP]". Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  33. ^ "Rush Hour [UMD for PSP] (1998)". Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  34. ^ "Rush Hour [Blu-ray] [1998][Region Free]". Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  35. ^ "Rush Hour [Blu-ray] (1998)". Retrieved January 8, 2012.

External links[edit]