So how was it working with Chris and Jackie again? ^ I hated it. They had to force me to do this film. No, it was great. It’s good to know that Chris is the same guy, he just has more toys now.
When I talked to Chris, he said that a $20 million paycheck made in his name helped him sign on to do the sequel. I am assuming that you too got paid well. Are you now one of the highest-paid directors in Hollywood? ^ I think so. I haven’t checked to see what the other guys are making, but I think so. I just can’t believe they are even paying me to do this. I am obnoxiously overpaid. But I guess the more you get paid the more responsibility falls on you. I think of it as a collaborative effort though — this isn’t just my film; it’s Jackie and Chris’ as well.
While Rush Hour 2 may be a collaborative effort, I would guess that making the film put a lot of pressure on you specifically. After all, the first film made over $300 million worldwide… how do you, as the filmmaker, top that? ^ It was tremendous pressure. It was ten times harder because we had done it before. Everyone in the world, fans especially, were expecting something at least as good as the first Rush Hour. I think we deliver something better, though. The fact we aren’t in Los Angeles — we filmed in Hong Kong, briefly stopped in L.A. and then went to Vegas — made it different. Plus the end stunt in this movie is ten times bigger than the end stunt of the last movie.
The premise to Rush Hour 2 almost seems like the exact opposite of Rush Hour. Instead of Jackie’s character being the fish out of water detective no one understands, this time it’s Chris’ character. How did you come up with the story for the sequel? ^ Chris and I came up with the idea because we were in Hong Kong for the premiere of Rush Hour and everyone that Chris bumped into on the street had no idea what he was saying. He’d even go to Karaoke clubs and sing Michæl Jackson and no one had any idea what he was saying– that or they would understand but would be very offended because they take Karaoke really seriously. We just knew we had to film the movie there.
What was it like filming in Hong Kong? Usually not many Hollywood films are shot there– did you have to go through a lot of red tape to shoot on location? ^ It was great. There were crazy fans everywhere– especially for Jackie and Zhang Ziyi. As far as actually shooting in Hong Kong, Jackie made it easy for us because of his relationship with the government. He knew that the government wants tourism, so he told them that we were Hollywood– the voice of America– and to make us happy.
Chris mentioned that Jackie wasn’t happy with the first Rush Hour because he wasn’t allowed to do what he wanted as far as stunts go, but that this time he had more say. Are the stunts Jackie does in Rush Hour 2 any different physically from those he does in his own films? ^ No, he does the exact same stuff he does in Hong Kong; the only difference is we make sure that if he falls he isn’t going to die. In Hong Kong if he falls, it’s over.
Correct me if I am wrong, but actress Zhang Ziyi doesn’t speak much English. How did she survive a primarily English-speaking film, or did the fact the movie takes place in Hong Kong work in favor for you? ^ Yeah, she spoke mostly in Chinese, although she had a few words in English. A few words — not sentences.
You mentioned that there were crazy fans all over Hong Kong for Jackie and Ziyi. Did you cast Ziyi in part because you were aware of her huge overseas following and was hoping that it would result in higher box-office receipts for Rush Hour 2? ^ It wasn’t a marketing idea, it was just an idea I had. I saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon before it came out and I thought she was wonderful. So I flew to China to meet with her for dinner and we started talking and I told her I wanted her to be in the movie. When she asked what she would be doing in the film I started telling her what the guy villain would be doing, and I realized that I just gave her the part. There was no woman role written in the script– she took over for a guy. So I had to let him go and then she became the villain in the movie. Luckily he didn’t film anything yet.
What do you think of the recent acceptance of Asian films and Asian stars — like Jackie and Ziyi — in America? Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was obviously huge, and Jackie’s popularity in recent years — along with Jet Li, Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh — have increased so much that they can now headline a film by themselves. ^ I think Rush Hour actually helped that. Chris Tucker was a hot young star, and most of America– most of the movie-going audience– is teenagers. They have made hip-hop culture become pop culture. Chris Tucker is to 10 year-old kids what Eddie Murphy was to me when I was 10. There had to be someone next in line. So teaming him with Jackie reintroduced Jackie. Jackie’s movies were only making $5 million at the time, so putting him with Chris Tucker introduced him to a whole new generation that had never seen a Jackie Chan film. And when they got wind of it, they were like, ‘Oh my God,’ and ran out to see all his other films. So it is really great to know we were a part of that.
Get the whole interview in part three of RUSH JOB: “RUSH HOUR 2” DIRECTOR BRETT RATNER>>>