As far as buddy-cop franchises go, Rush Hour is one of the most popular. The films featured the great pairing of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker as very different partners on the case together. The first film helped solidify Chan as an action star in Hollywood and served as the star-making role for Tucker.
Despite spawning two sequels with its returning stars, the franchise lost its popularity by the third and final film. Looking back on the films, it's not hard to see why audiences grew tired of the film as some aspects feel quite outdated now. Here are some things from the Rush Hour franchise that have not aged well.
10 Brett Ratner
When the first Rush Hour film came along, director Brett Ratner was just getting started in his Hollywood career. He was mostly known as a music video director, having directed only one previous feature. But Ratner helped make this film a hit and became a sought-after director.
Since Rush Hour, Ratner's perception as a filmmaker has become quite negative. After a string of forgettable films, including the Rush Hour sequels, and the poorly-received X-Men: The Last Stand, Ratner became a much-maligned director. Much more seriously, Ratner has also been accused of sexual misconduct in recent years, seemingly ending his Hollywood career.
9 Buddy Cop Formula
The first Rush Hour film certainly followed a similar formula as buddy-cop movies that came before it, like 48 Hrs. The film was made enjoyable by its likable stars and their chemistry, however, as the franchise went on, that very distinct formula became hard to ignore.
Every film in the franchise seemed to follow the same old beats with the unlikely partners finding themselves in the middle of a big case, being told to stay away by those in charge, overcoming their issues and cracking the case. After three movies, it starts to feel very repetitive.
The Rush Hour films have always been about the cultural clash with a street-wise LAPD officer teaming with a badass cop from Hong Kong. It's a take that has been used in a number of films like this. But while the differing cultures working together can be interesting, the movies largely seem interested in poking fun at racial stereotypes.
It's not just about characters saying offensive things, the movie actually represents these stereotypes in the movie. While it's all meant to be humorous, it feels very tired even by the first film. When they are still doing it in the third film, the franchise feels very out of touch.
The buddy-cop genre has never been very good at treating their female characters respectfully, and sadly, the Rush Hour films are among the worst offenders. Any female in the films is either lusted after or becomes the damsel in distress or both. They are given no real personality and treated horribly.
What's worse, most of the mistreatment comes from the supposed heroes of the films. We see scenes of Chan and Tucker spying on women getting undressed, sneaking into dressing rooms and blackmailing women into dates. It's pretty uncomfortable to see this behavior.
6 Racist Jokes
As bad as the racial stereotypes in these films now seem, they are nothing compared to the constant racist jokes throughout all three films. Chris Tucker's Carter is responsible for most of the jabs, often directed at Jackie Chan's Lee and his Chinese culture.
Again, the jokes get very tired very quickly and seem quite forced by the third film with contrived setups for these offensive jokes. While it could be argued that the jokes are meant to show Carter's ignorance, it often feels like we're supposed to be laughing along with him.
5 Soo Yung
In the first film, we are introduced to Soo-Yung, the young daughter of a Chinese diplomat who is kidnapped and held for ransom. She is a cute little girl who makes for an effective goal for the heroes. However, when she is reintroduced in the third film, they really make it weird.
Obviously, with close to ten years between the two films, Soo-Yung has grown up quite a bit since we last saw her, but the movie makes the strange and gross choice to sexualize her. Specifically, Carter who saved her as a young girl now makes suggestive comments about her which is just wrong.
Apart from the John Wick series, it's very rare that an action franchise gets better as it continues. Rush Hour certainly had an issue of diminishing returns with the second and third films being significantly less fun and charming than the original.
A large part of the problem was that the franchise seemed uninterested in evolving in any way. the jokes, the plot, and the action were all the same and those involved just seemed to get bored. What's worse is that by the third film, the franchise had us questioning why we even enjoyed it in the first place.
3 Racist Slurs
As you can see by now, race plays a big role in these films. A big disappointment with how the very serious subject is treated is that the films have no intention of remarking on the issue in any way other that jokes about race. This is especially disturbing given the many uses of racial slurs in the film.
We hear characters, many times the heroes, use slurs for African Americans and Chinese people throughout the franchise. And there are never any repercussions or discussions about why such language is problematic. Once again, it is just used as a cheap laugh.
2 Gay Panic
If the racism throughout these films was not enough, Rush Hour also throws in a good amount of homophobia for good measure. Once again, it is seen from the characters who are meant to be the heroes of the story which makes the use of this kind of humor ever more disturbing.
Carter is seen to have anxiety about homosexuals at several points throughout the films. He is extremely uncomfortable about a flamboyant store clerk. Even worse, when a woman reveals she is wearing a wig, Carter accuses her of being a transvestite and threatens to beat her up.
1 Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski is probably the last person you would expect to see pop up in a Rush Hour film. The controversial filmmaker appeared in the third film as a French cop. It is one of the few times Polanski has appeared in a film since fleeing America in 1977.
Hollywood has seemingly course-corrected in recent years, acknowledging the seriousness of Polanski's crimes. While his reputation in Hollywood was much more positive at the time of Rush Hour 3, seeing him on screen in distracting and off-putting.