One of the world’s most iconic buddy cop film series of all time is Rush Hour. The series cemented the careers of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan as action comedy legends, and even two decades later, the films are classics that never go old. Chris Tucker’s part in the duo has been to bring in the jokes, and James Carter is easily the funniest character in the series.
Most of the time, it’s Chris Tucker’s delivery of Carter’s lines that make them hilarious, as he takes the comic character to new heights with his innate comedic ability.
Updated on November 29th, 2022 by Melody MacReady:
Over twenty years later, Rush Hour is still one of the quintessential buddy cop movies in cinema history, so much so that there have been rumors of a Rush Hour 4 for years. The original trilogy is also a big part of both Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker’s careers.
James Carter is arguably Chris Tucker’s most iconic role simply because of the vast amount of hilarious quotes the character has across all three movies. It’s impossible to stop at just ten since Carter tends to steal the spotlight in nearly every scene that he’s in, and if that fourth movie is made, it will likely be the same there.
Carter Meets Lee
“Do You Understand the Words That Are Coming Out of My Mouth!?” – Rush Hour
A line that became so famous that it returned to Rush Hour 2. Carter, at first, is a bit of an obnoxious and selfish person in Rush Hour. When he first meets Detective Lee, Carter acts like a typical uneducated person who assumes that a foreign person doesn’t understand English.
He even does the typical slow speaking, as if that is somehow going to magically make a person understand them, “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?” This bit of bigotry is funny, but it’s made even funnier when Lee decides to just toy with Carter by smiling and pretending to not understand.
Carter Meets The Giant
“Whoa! Damn! I’m Sorry Man, I Thought This Was The Bathroom.” – Rush Hour 3
Carter is always rudely going off about the height of Lee and other Chinese people, which makes it a bit of karma when he goes to investigate Soo Yung’s academy in Rush Hour 3. He meets a massive student played by Sun Ming Ming who is almost eight feet tall.
What makes Carter’s reaction even funnier is the camera angle used to display the drastic size difference between the two men. Combined with Carter’s wide-eyed and loud reaction of terror, it’s impossible to not at least chuckle at Carter in this scene.
Chris Tucker’s Best Outtake
“Damn…He Ain’t Gonna Be In Rush Hour 3.” – Rush Hour 2
It may not be a quote from the actual movie, but this outtake from Rush Hour 2 is one of the funniest of all three movie outtake reels. Chris Tucker likely ad-libbed so many different quips to respond to the death of a villain that he just decided to break the fourth wall.
Even famous martial arts actor Jackie Chan himself immediately breaks out of character as a response to, “Damn…he ain’t gonna be in Rush Hour 3.” It’s easy to see why the filmmakers picked that particular clip for the bloopers. If fourth-wall-breaking wasn’t so alien to the franchise, this likely would have been a great line in the actual movie.
Carter Demands A Vacation Or Else
“I’ll Slap You So Hard, You’ll End Up In The Ming Dynasty.” – Rush Hour 2
It’s understandable that all Carter wants to do in Rush Hour 2 is take a vacation. However, Lee is always doing his job which leads to him lying to Carter about taking on a new case. Carter then responds with a hilarious threat as they drive through Hong Kong, “don’t be messing with me, Lee. I will slap you so hard, you’ll end up in the Ming dynasty.”
Carter tends to use a lot of Chinese stereotypes in his insults, but that’s part of the charm of his friendship with Lee. They push each other’s buttons but never go too far, just enough to satisfy those with a more twisted sense of humor.
So Long, Juntao
“Woo! You Know He Dead!” – Rush Hour
Between kidnapping an innocent child, taking countless lives, and destroying ancient Chinese artifacts, Juntao more than earned his death. This is why Carter’s calm reaction to Juntao falling to his death is humorous, because he does not show one bit of shock or sympathy.
Casually, Carter just comments, “Woo! You know he dead.” Almost like he just witnessed the villain of a video game die instead of a real human being. Still, viewers probably wouldn’t expect anything less from the LAPD cop.
Roasting Of The Giant
“I Don’t Know What The Hell You’re Feeding Him But He Is Too Damn Big!” – Rush Hour 3
The large student leaves quite an impression on Carter. When he and Lee finish getting the information they need from the master of the academy, Carter can’t help but making one last comment, “I don’t know what the hell you’re feeding him but he is too damn big!”
Suddenly, it’s the reverse of Carter’s usual insults; now it’s someone who is too big, which is a hilarious response considering both he and Lee were taken out with ease by the student.
When Old Men To Go Prison
“Your Best Friend? Gonna Be A Mouse!” – Rush Hour 3
Carter can consistently deliver some fantastic lip service to get the audience laughing even in the direst of circumstances. Here, Carter and Lee figured out Reynard (played by Max Von Sydow) was the main antagonist of Rush Hour 3, which was when Carter unloaded on Reynard just how bad it is for old men in prison.
According to Carter, old men were called “pops” in jail, they were made to work in the library – and since Reynard would have no friends, his closest mate would be a mouse. On one hand, it could be a reference to the mouse in The Green Mile, but also Chris Tucker managing to actually sound threatening and hilarious at the same time is an admirable piece of acting.
Carter Takes A Terrorist’s Order
“You Want Fries With That?” – Rush Hour
On occasion, the best way to diffuse a bad situation is by sending in someone completely out of line with the mood in the room; however, this wasn’t really that kind of situation. Carter was put on the phone to talk with the man who kidnapped Soo-Yung, and he proceeded to act as if he was a McDonald’s employee taking an order.
He would even put on a tone where it sounded as if he was jotting down the number of burgers he was going to prepare, and the kicker was when he finished the joke by asking the man on the phone, “you want fries with that?”
He Took That Hit Well
“Which One Of Y’all Hit Me?” – Rush Hour
Some people take pain better than others, but Carter’s reaction to a literal kick to the face is priceless. He doesn’t yell, scream, or even grunt; he slowly lets anger consume him and then asks, “Which one of y’all kicked me?” This is already funny because he somehow didn’t see where the kick came from.
It’s interactions like this that helped turn Rush Hour into an iconic comedy of the 1990s. Poor Carter tends to think he is tougher than he actually is, so this all happening because he claimed to be Juntao’s kin is more karma for him. He attempts to take on all of Juntao’s enforcers, which proves to be fruitless in the end.
Carter Vs. Hu Li
“I’m Gonna Pretend You’re A Man!” – Rush Hour 2
In Rush Hour 2, Carter had a weird crush on Hu Li, the woman who was always out to kill him and Lee. Even in the climax that makes Rush Hour 2 into one of the most iconic movies set in Las Vegas, when he’s had enough of her, he still tries to somewhat flirt with her.
As he readies himself to fight, claiming he’s not going to hold back, he hilariously says, “I’m gonna pretend you’re a man! A very beautiful man with a perfect body who I’d like to take to the movies.” In that time Carter probably could have landed a good strike, but it’s nearly impossible to decline a quip from him.
Keeping It Semi-PG
“And His Grandmother’s A Two-Bit ‘W’ Who Makes Double.” – Rush Hour 3
He may be a loudmouth jerk to his friends sometimes, but when Carter talks to the villains, it is so satisfying. Even when he’s forced to dial back his vulgar vocabulary, he still manages to cross lines, such as when he has to have a nun translate his words into French for interrogation.
This makes for one of the funniest scenes in Rush Hour 3 ,when he has to replace any curse words with an initial. When the criminal insults Carter, he responds by saying to the nun that every member of his family is a sex worker including his grandmother who makes double because, “she got no teeth.” It’s somehow funnier than if Carter were to say the real insult.
Carter Is Jealous Of Lee
“Lee, Snoopy Is 6 Inches Taller Than You.” – Rush Hour 2
Another example of their relationship that is rather realistic is that Carter and Lee tend to insult each other in humorous ways, especially after they meet Isabella in Rush Hour 2. They are both clearly attracted to her and fight for her affection, which leads to a lot of funny banter.
Carter calls Lee “third world ugly,” to which Lee responds by saying women love him and call him cute like Snoopy the dog. In probably the funniest comment about Lee’s height, Carter just says, “Lee, Snoopy is 6 inches taller than you.” This further adds to the punishment he gets in the third movie.
Carter In The Peanut Gallery
“Lee, He May Be Your Brother But Turn Him Into Your Sister!” – Rush Hour 3
Even when Lee is forced to fight his own adopted brother in a rather dramatic battle, Carter can’t keep his mouth shut. The best line out of his mouth here was by motivating Lee into beating Kenji, as played by Hiroyuki Sanada, by telling him to castrate him with the sword he was battling with.
That’s the proper balance of action and comedy that Rush Hour movies are known for. Things such as encounters with Kenji provide tension and drama while Carter keeps things light-hearted and fun in the best way without ruining a scene.
What Will The Triads Do?
“Cut Off Our Egg Rolls? Hell No!” – Rush Hour 2
Carter likes to talk a big game most of the time, but when the time really calls for it, he lets it known he’s not going to hang around for long. A case in point was in Rush Hour 2, where Lee and Carter were apprehended, and Lee told him the Triads would torture them for three days.
Surprisingly, Carter didn’t mind being tortured; it was the prospect of getting his “egg rolls” cut off that turned him into a scared little boy. After this, Carter would wrangle around crying about how he didn’t want to die. It’s hard to not sympathize with him, though – who wants to let go of their “egg rolls,” after all?
Carter’s Attempt At Cantonese
“Onk Ta Eenk Ta Pee-aanski’ – Rush Hour 2
Cantonese is a challenging language, but Carter clearly did not even try to sound authentic at this moment when he parts ways with Don Cheadle’s character. He just speaks a bunch of gibberish that barely sounds like something out of the language.
Even though the way Chris Tucker delivers the line is humorous, it’s Lee’s reaction that’s funnier than anything. It’s rude, it’s confusing, and even a little offensive, yet Lee just brushes it off as a typical weird interaction with his partner.