Rush Hour 2 : Production Information

Rush Hour 2 - Movie PosterRush Hour (1998) opened with a bang in the U. S in September of 1998, grossing $33 million during it's opening weekend and eventually earning more than $250 million worldwide.

The film provided a fresh spin on the buddy film genre and captivated audiences with it's high-octane combination of breathless action sequences and outrageous comedy. But what people most vividly responded to was the incredible on-screen relationship between the film's two stars: Jackie Chan, who Time Magazine once called "the world's most beloved movie star" and who was at the time making his return to American films after a nearly 12-year absence, and Chris Tucker, the fast-rising young comic actor who in 1997 had starred in the hit comedy, Money Talks (1997).

"It was really exciting," says director Brett Ratner, who had previously directed Chris Tucker in Money Talks and considered himself a huge fan of Jackie Chan. "People were thrilled to see these guys together. " While the director also ascribes the film's success to the 'thriller-like' tone, he believes "the Rush Hour phenomenon, what audiences most responded to, was really about the chemistry between Chris and Jackie. The two of them together is like an explosion in a bottle. " Producer Arthur Sarkissian concurs, saying that "audiences walked away from Rush Hour (1998) saying 'Chris and Jackie are so great as a team. ' They got together and their on-screen relationship worked remarkably well. "

Rush Hour 2 - Movie Poster"Jackie Chan and I were born to work together," exclaims Chris Tucker. "We're best buddies and we fight just alike. He tries to keep up with me, but I'm a little bit quicker," Tucker kids. "He's a great guy. We're like brothers only I'm black and he's Chinese. "

Chan shares the same affection for Tucker. well, sort of. "I don't like this guy and I don't know why I have to make movies with him," Chan says of Tucker with a smile. "All kidding aside, I love Chris. 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. "

What the martial arts master and comedic powerhouse continue to share is their love of improvisation. "I'm excited, man! I'm working with the biggest action star in the world," says Tucker. "Everyday, I come to the set and say 'Jackie, I can't wait. What are you going to have me do today?' I have a lot of respect for Jackie and I don't want to let him down. "

Chan brings an immeasurable amount of experience to both Rush Hour films, owing to his extensive background in Hong Kong cinema working as an actor, director and stunt coordinator. "Having Jackie on the film is like having that veteran player on a sports team," says producer Jay Stern. "They show up on time, they know what they're doing and they always put their all into it. Plus he's an amazing physical comedian, the same way Keaton and Chaplin were. He does things you don't think a human being can do. "

"Jackie helps to choreograph a lot of the action," says Brett Ratner. "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 story telling. It's a much longer process," he says, "but the results are amazing. Jackie's been giving us all his best fight stuff for this movie. "

In contrast to Chan's physical improvisation is Tucker's verbal improv, which originated from his experiences in stand-up comedy. "I think because he's such a good actor outside of comedy," says producer Arthur Sarkissian, "Chris can really focus on making things funny. He reminds me of Eddie Murphy twenty years ago. He's got a lot of charisma and he's always working to make his character and the movie better. "

While Tucker's impromptu dialogue changes could be a daunting challenge for Chan since English is a second language for him, in reality it isn't a problem. As Chan says, "Chris thinks about my character's dialogue too. 'You should not say this, because it's not you, it's not Lee. ' And I think about the fighting scenes. 'You should not fight like this. It's not Carter. ' He helps me and I help him. I show him action. He shows me dialogue. He thinks about me and that makes me very comfortable. "

But since the original Rush Hour (1998), Chan's character, Inspector Lee, has also learned a little more about the language and colloquialisms of Tucker's character Carter, which comes in handy for the sequel. "Now," says producer Roger Birnbaum, "when Carter says he's going to kick his butt, Lee responds back with a much harsher insult that he's earlier heard from Carter. "

Finding the right mix of action and comedy and balancing the unique personalities of Chan and Tucker is the challenge of director Brett Ratner. "Brett has two guys who are diametrically opposite in terms of their individual working styles and he's able to make them work as a coherent unit," says Jonathan Glickman. "He bridges the gap between these two people and is able to communicate with them both at the same time. He's constantly coming up with ideas for fresh takes on these characters. "

"One of Brett's many abilities," says executive producer Andrew Z. Davis, "is that he can think about who people are and instinctively get the best performance. He looks at Chris and Jackie and finds the essence of Carter and Lee and helps them find it in themselves. "

"Brett is the best because he's just like me," says Chris Tucker. "He's all about improv and spontaneity and trying to perfect whatever it is. And forget about his energy! We thought he was on drugs at first, but we came to find out he doesn't do drugs. It was just him. He's just kind of crazy in the best sense," Tucker exclaims.

Jackie Chan agrees with his co-star about Ratner and feels "he's like a big boy full of non-stop energy. Even when we give our all, he still wants more, more, more! He always wants to do the best he can and get the most out of us. "

While the producers, director and cast were all thrilled to be doing a sequel, they each had very specific ideas about what they wanted to do with Rush Hour 2.

According to producer Jonathan Glickman, both "Chris and Jackie came to the sequel with a real interest in making a movie that was better than the first one, expanding on the original and making the sequel it's own picture. What's great about the sequel is that it's a much broader canvas. "

Chris Tucker concurs, saying that "we wanted to bring more fun, more action, more of every thing to the sequel. I mean, Jackie's doing stuff that he's never done in movies before. And I brought every thing I could for this movie because I had so much fun doing the first film and was so excited to be working with every one again. I hope they expected the best because that's what they're going to get!"

It's a sentiment echoed by Jackie Chan, who says "we know the audience will expect more and want to give them the best that we can. There's got to be big action, big stunts, big comedy, everything big!"

The sequel begins in Hong Kong with Detective Carter and Inspector Lee fresh from a plane trip across the Pacific.

Even before the first film was released, the filmmakers had been thinking about a possible sequel. "We wrote the last scene of the original hoping that we would be making a sequel one day," says Brett Ratner. "So we got them on a plane to Hong Kong to naturally lead us to another destination. "

During research screenings of Rush Hour, producer Arthur Sarkissian says that "everybody in the audience asked in the cards, 'well, what happens when they go to Hong Kong?' That's when we knew that we had a good idea for a sequel because people were already asking what's next. But in contrast to Rush Hour where Jackie was a stranger in Los Angeles," Sarkissian continues, "we felt Hong Kong was the ideal setting to play Chris as the fish-out-of-water. "

Brett Ratner knew instinctively that beginning the sequel in Hong Kong would work after remembering back to when he and Chris Tucker attended a premiere of Rush Hour (1998) there in 1998 and observing the reactions that Tucker received from the locals as he walked through their streets. "We'd travel around Hong Kong," recalls Ratner, "and people would just stare at Chris. In his own unique way, he'd try talking to them and they just looked at him like he was crazy. It was the funniest thing you've ever seen!"

Although they spent a short time filming in Hong Kong on the first Rush Hour (1998), this time around the cast and filmmakers were determined to take full advantage of all that the city had to offer. "The skyline is just insane," exclaims Ratner, who is a great admirer of Hong Kong cinema and counts Enter the Dragon (1973), shot entirely on location in the city, as one of his favorite films. "Every direction you shoot is amazing. From the people to the background to the signage to the faces it's just so incredibly interesting to shoot. "

Rush Hour 2 - Movie PosterAs interesting as it can be, shooting on the streets of Hong Kong also presents an enormous challenge.

Different from Western filmmaking practices, productions often proceed without permits, secured streets or crowd control. While Jackie Chan, who is a national hero in his homeland and who drew huge crowds of fans and onlookers during the shoot, is accustomed to this, some things catch even him by surprise. In one scene, the action called for Chan and Tucker to emerge from their car after making an abrupt stop in the middle of the highway and then run down the street naked. "It was embarrassing," Chan says. "We're naked on the freeway and I was almost hit by a truck. The truck driver pulls up and said, 'Jackie Chan! Can I have your autograph?'"

Brett Ratner recalls, "I've never seen him so anxious to want to get a scene done on the first take. I think it was a mixture of the environment and the danger of it it was a very funny moment, though. "

Despite the often wild times shooting in Hong Kong, Rush Hour 2 marks the first time that the Chinese government has extended assistance to a Western production, which included allowing the neon lights of the skyscrapers which frame Victoria Harbor to remain on all night, instead of shutting off at midnight as they normally would.

Rush Hour 2 (2001)And just as Lee leads Carter around his native Hong Kong, Jackie Chan was able to show Chris Tucker around some of his favorite hangouts during their time off from filming.

Often the experience was eye-opening. As Tucker relates, "Jackie tricked me a lot of times. One night we were at a restaurant that Jackie loves and he had me try a special soup. I didn't know exactly what kind of soup it was, and finally the waiter came up to me and asked if I was enjoying the soup, which I said I was. He said 'frog spit soup is our favorite dish. ' Jackie and I got in a little fight over it, but someone broke it up. I was eating some crazy stuff in Hong Kong, food that I don't want to admit that I ate!"

Tucker was amazed to find out just how popular Jackie Chan really is in Hong Kong. "Jackie is like the President of Hong Kong. Everybody just loves him there, so it was an honor to be with him. Jackie is like a Chinese Donald Trump. He's got his hands in everything. He's even got his own shop, where I went to buy some clothes. "

Rush Hour 2 (2001)There were other aspects of the Chinese culture that the filmmakers wanted to explore. Practically indigenous to Hong Kong is the phenomenon of karaoke. "We cut out a karaoke scene from Rush Hour and knew we wanted to include a similar scene in the sequel," says producer Roger Birnbaum. This time around Chris Tucker gets a chance to belt out a dead-on version of Michael Jackson's classic, "Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough," to an audience of stunned Chinese. "Karaoke is very serious business in Hong Kong," says Birnbaum. "The notion of an American loudmouth like Chris' character singing in this revered environment was very funny. " Following the several hours of spirited singing and dancing it took to film the scene, a weary Tucker exclaimed, "I have a whole new respect for singers!"

Just as Hong Kong provided the perfect setting for the beginning of the film, the filmmakers were equally certain that Las Vegas was the ideal location to wrap things up, as well as provide the perfect location to play out a money-laundering scheme that figures in the plot.

To avoid the burn-out factor that occurs with shooting on "The Strip" because it is so often used as a location for films and tv shows, the production created an extravagant casino set inside the recently closed Desert Inn Hotel. Over a period of six weeks, a team of artists and laborers, overseen by legendary production designer Terence Marsh (who as an art director won two Academy Awards and worked on such epics as Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Doctor Zhivago (1965)), worked to create the opulent, Chinese palace-themed Red Dragon Hotel and Casino, the centerpiece of which is the 20-foot statue of the namesake, capable of spewing smoke and fire.

A momentous occasion took place during the Las Vegas shoot when the mayor of the city, Oscar Goodman, visited the set and proclaimed it Rush Hour 2 day, issuing keys to the city to Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker and Brett Ratner. As Tucker exclaimed, "Vegas is my town. Now that I have the key to the city they have to let me in any place I go. I wish Sammy Davis Jr. were here to see this!"

Rush Hour 2 (2001)In addition to the fabulous locations (which were supplemented by several weeks of studio and location filming in Los Angeles at the start of production, which began in November of 2000), an important facet of the sequel is the introduction of several new characters.

It is with the help of these characters that some light is shed on the background and history of Jackie Chan's character, Inspector Lee. "We needed to up the stakes in this one," says director Ratner. "And that wasn't going to be easy considering that in Rush Hour (1998) a little girl's life was on the line. So," he says, "we raised the emotional ante by creating a character that would explain Lee's motivation and also explain why Carter is who he is - both had fathers who were cops and were killed in the line of duty.

Once Carter realizes that Lee wants this case in order to basically protect his father's legacy and get to the bottom of what he went down for, he jumps on board to help his friend. It brings heart to the story. "

For the character of the villianous Ricky Tan, who plays a dark role in the past of Inspector Lee, Brett Ratner was quick to pursue veteran actor John Lone, best known as the title character of Bernardo Bertolucci's 1987 Academy Award-winning epic, Last Emperor, the (1987). "The believability of the character of Ricky Tan as having had a long history with Jackie's character Lee required a brilliant actor," says Ratner. "John Lone carries that weight. Not only is he able to deliver the performance of an elegant and sophisticated, yet very dangerous crime lord, but he also supplies a convincing warmth and love for Lee. You totally believe their relationship goes back. "

"There's something really unique that John Lone brings to every role he plays," says producer Arthur Sarkissian. "In this film, playing a criminal is so much more than being just a bad guy. His mannerisms give the role total credibility. "

"Ricky Tan is a businessman," says John Lone of his character. "His business dealings aren't what most people would call appropriate, but then again, his hands are never dirty. Ricky Tan has other people execute what needs to be done. "

While in Hong Kong scouting locations and holding casting sessions for the role of Ricky Tan's deadly underboss, Hu Li, Brett Ratner screened an early cut of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). Ratner was so taken by the talent and striking beauty of Ziyi Zhang, the 23-year old actress who played opposite Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh, he immediately caught a flight to Beijing to meet with her to discuss making her American film debut in Rush Hour 2.

Zhang recalls her first meeting with the director: "He took one look at me and said, 'oh my god!' I believe he was more excited than I was. " Startled by the youth of Ratner, she was equally surprised at the speed with which their conversation progressed. "I never believed that after ten minutes he'd be talking to me about the script. Until then," says Zhang, "he'd never met me in person. He only knew me as Jen Yu in Crouching Tiger, the person who could fly all over the place. " Still, she says, "it seemed as if there was some kind of mutual agreement between us. "

Rush Hour 2 (2001)The filmmakers were so enamored of Zhang, her role was expanded to encompass a role that was first written for two characters. "She's quite a chameleon," says producer Arthur Sarkissian.

"In contrast to her sweet looks, Hu Li becomes this brutal hard ass - it was a unique way for us to portray a villain. " The casting of Ziyi Zhang opposite Jackie Chan marks a teaming of two generations of acrobatic marvels, with Chan working closely with Zhang to help coordinate her fight sequences.

Zhang, who studied dance in China, proved more than up to the task of working with the martial arts legend. "She only used a stunt double twice during filming," marvelled Chan. "She really wants to learn new things and is always saying 'I want to do it. ' I tell her to trust me and then she does the stunt. She's so exciting and a wonderful actress. "

Puerto Rico-born beauty Roselyn Sanchez plays the role of U. S. Secret Service double agent Isabella Molina, who always leaves Lee and Carter guessing as to which side she is working for. Sanchez was excited about landing the role, which she says affords her the opportunity to "play a tough woman, some one who is intelligent, smart and can kick some ass. It's been great fun. "

In a departure from the first film, the workaholic Detective Lee slowly develops a romantic crush on agent Molina, which proves to be the source of much comic tension between him and smooth-talking ladies man Carter over who gets the girl. But there's only so much time for romance amidst the action and jokes, as Jackie Chan soon found out. "When I heard about the Molina character, I told Brett Ratner that she and Lee must have a kissing scene or a love scene," said Chan. "Brett said, 'you wish'!"

Rounding out the cast is legendary actor/comedian Alan King, who appears in a key role as casino owner and entrepreneur (and partner to Ricky Tan) Steven Reign.

"I wanted a very Vegas-y type of guy for the role," says Brett Ratner, "and Alan King is the perfect guy to own a casino. I modeled him partly after a Steve Wynn and Donald Trump type of character. You see the showman and entrepreneur side of him very clearly. But you also see that inside, this guy is as tough as nails. "

Adding to the fun are a few cameo roles played by well-known actors. "Brett wants certain people in the movie because he has relationships with them and knows what he can get out of them," says producer Arthur Sarkissian. "What's nice about having these guys in the film is it lifts the energy of Chris and Jackie when they're working with actors of that caliber - actors who normally don't do cameo roles. "

While the relationship between Carter and Lee has evolved (much as the personal friendship between Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker has grown stronger), the tone of Rush Hour 2 is much the same.

The culture clash and language barriers still exist and the comedy still comes from real situations, but the foundation of the film remains firmly rooted in the relationship between Tucker and Chan. Ratner confirms, "The chemistry between Chris and Jackie is fresh and it's real. People love seeing them together because they love that relationship. There's a continuation of that in this movie,"

Ratner explains, " which I think people want to see, but as far as emotional depth, their relationship and friendship get to another level here because they've experienced more together. They're more understanding of each other's personalities and cultures, even though they still can't understand all of the things the other is saying, which is true in real life!"

Realizing inevitable comparisons, the actors, producers and director were determined that Rush Hour 2 would deliver even more of what audiences loved in the first film. "It's great to have the same team back from Rush Hour (1998)," says producer Arthur Sarkissian. "It's more of what audiences liked in the original, only this time around it's bigger, better and funnier. " "There's much more action than there was in the first film," Brett Ratner affirms. "And there's just as much comedy. Both films have this tremendous interplay between Jackie and Chris," he continues. "I always say, you could film them in front of a white wall and they'd still be great together. "

"Fortunately," he adds, "we didn't have to. "