Rush Hour 3: Chan and Tucker–Odd Couple

Half a world away in Los Angeles, Ambassador Han is about to disclose a secret in Paris, explosive evidence about the inner workings of the Triads, the most powerful crime syndicate in the world. The Ambassador has discovered the identity of Shy Shen, the crux of the crime ring, and he's about to reveal it to the World Criminal Court–until he is silenced by an assassin's bullet. The Triads go to any lengths to make sure their secrets stay buried.

There's only one hope for stopping them. This summer, LAPD Detective Carter and Chinese Inspector Lee are back where they don't belong. “Rush Hour 3” finds the odd couple headed to the City of Lights to stop a global criminal conspiracy and save the life of an old friend, Ambassador Han's now-grown daughter, Soo Yung.

They don't know the city, the language, or what they're looking for, but their race takes them across the city, from the Paris underground to the heights of the Eiffel Tower, as they fight to outrun the world's most deadly criminals.

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker reunite with director Brett Ratner for a new adventure that takes them to Paris where they confront deadly Triads, beautiful women, angry cabbie, and invasive French inspector to uncover the secret of the Triad syndicate.

Joining the duo is an appealing ensemble, including Hiroyuki Sanada as Kenji, a Triad assassin with mysterious links to Inspector Lee; Youki Kudoh as Jasmine, a club owner who is as alluring as she is dangerous; and Oscar nominee Max von Sydow as Reynard, head of the World Criminal Court. Also co-starring are French actor and filmmaker Yvan Attal as George, a cab driver who becomes an unwitting partner in Carter and Lee's breakneck action adventure through Paris; director/actor Roman Polanski as French Detective Revi, who gives Carter and Lee an unorthodox and uncomfortable welcome to Paris; and French actress Nomie Lenoir as Genevieve, a young woman who may hold the key to the Triad conspiracy.

Since making their debut as partners in 1998's Rush Hour, Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker have become the world's most entertaining, if unlikely, cinematic duo. “Chris is truly a comedic genius,” says director Brett Ratner, who in addition to helming the first two Rush Hour films also directed X-Men: The Last Stand and Red Dragon. “He's an incredibly gifted comedian, a guy who can say anything and make it funny. And it's not even in the words–his face is better than a thousand words.”

“Jackie Chan is another type of genius,” the director continues. “Working with Jackie, I feel like I'm a part of cinema history. He's like Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd all wrapped into one the most experienced, talented physical performer I've ever worked with.” The chemistry of the two performers is magic, says Ratner. “You can't take your eyes off of them, you really care about them. This is not something I created; it's something that just exists.”

The dynamic, as explored in the first two films and continued in Rush Hour 3, stems from not only a clash of cultures, languages and personal styles, but also the affection and camaraderie between the two consummate performers. “Chris and Jackie don't understand each other, and they're from two completely different cultures,” Ratner continues. “Even with the first movie, literally, when one of them walked out of the room, the other guy would say, 'I don't understand what he just said.' And they both have a lot of fun with that. They're a great team; they really compliment each other, and I love watching them. When you watch these movies, you say, 'Wow, they must have had so much fun making them.' And it's really true.”

The Audience Makes the Movie

Prior to his introduction to American audiences, Jackie Chan had already enjoyed a thriving career in the Hong Kong film industry that continues on a parallel track with his global success with American films. But while his Asian fans look forward to the next Police Story, everywhere else he goes he hears only one thing: “As soon as I get through immigration, I hear Jackie, when is the next Rush Hour coming out” says Chan. “The audience makes Rush Hour happen, it's not us. They keep watching Rush Hour 1 and 2 again and again, especially on American television. This kind of movie is like family getting together, so we're happy, too.”

“It never gets boring,” says Chris Tucker, who returns to the screen after a six-year absence following the success of the Rush Hour series and performances in such diverse films as Jackie Brown, The Fifth Element and Friday. “Once we get together, we make each other laugh so much, and we're friends in real life, so the comedy comes out of situations we're in. I've been a big fan of Jackie's since before we started doing these movies. I'm always excited when I go to the set and see him. We're a good team, always creating new stuff to do together, and that's the fun of these movies.”

“Just like in the movie, we didn't know each other when we began shooting the first Rush Hour,” says Chan. “I'm from Hong Kong, Chris is from Los Angeles. Now, we're buddies. We always have fun together.” Much like the actors, their characters have grown closer throughout the progression of the three films. “In the first movie, they became partners,” says Brett Ratner. “In the second film, they became friends. In this film, they really do become brothers.”

Great Friendship

After the phenomenal success of 1998's Rush Hour and 2001's Rush Hour 2, the filmmakers relished the opportunity to once again bring in screenwriter Jeff Nathanson to create the architecture for the continuing adventures of Carter and Lee. “I think the Rush Hour films are about two guys who have a great friendship,” comments Nathanson. “None of us wanted to do a carbon copy sequel. We like to stay true to the characters and the growth of their friendship, but we really look at this as a stand-alone film.”

Producer Arthur Sarkissian concurs. “I don't really look at the Rush Hour films as sequels; I look at them as a continuation of these two guys and their evolution throughout their lives, whether it's a week together or six years apart. You just let the characters tell their story. They've known each other for years, and Brett knows them like the back of his hand. I trust him implicitly, and I think this one is the best Rush Hour yet.”

Brett Ratner

“The movies couldn't be made without Jackie or Chris. But they also couldn't be made without Brett,” adds producer Roger Birnbaum. “He is just as important to the magic of these films as they are. He controls the energy masterfully. Sometimes it gets a little crazy, sometimes it gets a little wild, but it's always fun. And Jeff Nathanson is the fourth musketeer on this project. He's one of the funniest writers, and knows Jackie and Chris so well. He knows what they want as the characters and understands what Brett wants as well.”

While both Tucker and Chan are known for their gifts of improvisation, Ratner keeps a constant tone of structure that allows for the kind of controlled chaos that forms the heart of the films. “The atmosphere definitely fuels me,” describes Tucker. “Brett is like the trainer for Muhammad Ali. He keeps pushing and pushing because he knows he can get it out of you. We work well as a team. We're good friends and we can say anything to each other, and Brett always listens to us. It's a good partnership.”

With not only the stars and director, but all the producers and many members of the crew coming back for the third Rush Hour, the set had a true family atmosphere. “I love the energy on the set of Rush Hour,” says Ratner. “I think the positivity and fun are apparent in the making of the movie as well. You see people really caring and really trying. I feel so secure making these movies because my producers, who have been with me from the first movie, really understand what it takes to make a great Rush Hour movie, and they back me 100 percent. A movie of this scope and size needs a lot of hands on deck. Jamie Freitag, my assistant director, I've never done a film without him and he works harder than anybody I've ever seen. Everyone around me really loves this movie and loves what they're doing.”

“I was so happy to go to the set,” remembers Chan. “I don't want to be on holiday. I always want to be on the set because I see so many good people, many from the first two Rush Hour films. We're the same group, the same family.”

Rush Hour 3 takes place six years after Carter and Lee boarded a plane bound for New York at the conclusion of Rush Hour 2. Carter, still a cop with the LAPD, is now working the streets as a traffic officer. “You see this guy in a police uniform directing traffic and think, “What did this guy do to get himself in trouble,” says Ratner. “But he's not worried about it. He's just dancing and singing to his favorite song in the headphones.”

“He's not really caring about what he's doing,” adds Tucker. “He's just listening to these headphones with the music blasting in his ears while this big accident is happening all around him.” While Carter is in the eye of the traffic hurricane, the first meeting of the World Criminal Court is taking place nearby, attended by Ambassador Han, played by Tzi Ma (“The Quiet American,” “24”), who reprises his role from the first Rush Hour. Han has been appointed to head an investigation of the Triad crime ring, and at this historic first meeting, plans to reveal the identity of Shy Shen, an enigmatic presence that goes to the very core of the powerful, wide-reaching Chinese crime ring.

Ambassador Han is ready to reveal the biggest secret that this particular court is going after, which is the secret of Shy Shen,” explains Tzi Ma. “But before he gets an opportunity to speak, he gets shot. And Lee, who is the Ambassador's chief inspector and friend, has promised to protect him. So chasing down this assassin becomes very personal.” “Lee pursues this assassin down a very steep skyscraper,” says Ratner. “And he comes very close to catching the guy before Carter, of course, messes it up.”

Before Carter flies onto the scene in a borrowed car, Lee discovers the identity of the assassin: Kenji, played by acclaimed Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada, star of the Ringu series, Last Samurai, and Sunshine. Once Lee's orphanage brother, Kenji is now a key figure in the Triad organization. “Kenji and Lee both grew up in an orphanage in China,” explains Chan. “His parents were killed by Yakuza, so he became an orphan and hid in China. They grew up together, and they are like brothers, but Lee became police and Kenji became a criminal. They equally love and hate each other.”

Sanada and Chan have been friends for over 20 years, but Rush Hour 3 represents the first time the two worked together. “I love this role of an evil, mean man,” says Sanada, “and Jackie is a great opponent. Kenji does not want to fight Lee, but Triads and police have to fight, so each action and each movement has a different meaning and emotion.”

“Jackie and Hiroyuki make their scenes together so emotional, you buy the connection between them,” comments Ratner. “And this really goes to the heart of the story. These scenes are very intense for Jackie. Hiroyuki plays his adopted brother, who is the bad guy, so the conflict in his character is strong. And without Jackie's and Hiroyuki's talents it would never come across so strong.”

Reunited once more, Carter and Lee come upon another old friend when they arrive at the hospital to check on Ambassador Han, his now-adult daughter, Soo Yung, who as a child was kidnapped in the first Rush Hour, this time played by the Chinese star Jingchu Zhang. “Her father had already mailed her some things, perhaps sensing that something was about to happen to him,” says Jingchu Zhang, who makes her American film debut after her critically acclaimed breakout films in China. “But she is a strong, tough girl–just like the little girl in the first Rush Hour and he knows he can trust her with this information.”

The urgency of finding and decoding the information about Shy Shen is made all the more potent because its existence threatens the lives of not only the Ambassador, but also his daughter, who are like family to Lee. “Ambassador Han is a good friend,” notes Chan. “Lee always protects him, and as his daughter grew up, Lee taught her how to fight. He wants to protect Han and Soo Yung, and find out who's behind it, in order to save their lives.”

“Han is the Ambassador from China, and he and his daughter are old friends of Lee's, and Carter has also formed an affection for Soo-Yung through their adventure in the first film,” adds producer Jay Stern. “The only way they can protect them is to break this crime ring. Lee has no choice, and Carter, who now considers himself Lee's brother, is in it, too.”

Their investigation takes them to Soo Yung's martial arts school, where Lee and Carter tangle with fierce young martial artists and one very large one, played by
7'9″ Chinese basketball star Sun Ming Ming, who plays for the Maryland Nighthawks. “Nicest guy you'll ever meet, but the tallest guy I've ever seen in my life,” says Chris Tucker. The ensuing fight between Sun Ming Ming and Chan, says Tucker, “is one of the classic scenes, like in Game of Death when Bruce Lee was fighting Kareem Abdul Jabbar. It's unbelievable.”

“The fact that we found Sun Ming Ming, and that everything worked out, the stars were aligned,” recalls Ratner. “It's a funny scene. It's got great action and great humor. Everything about it is fun and represents what this movie is about– comedy, drama, action, martial arts and great characters.”