Rush Hour (1998) is an action comedy and buddy film starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan.
Here’s the premise: When a Chinese diplomat’s daughter is kidnapped in Los Angeles, he calls in Hong Kong Detective Inspector Lee to assist the FBI with the case. But the FBI doesn’t want anything to do with Lee, and they dump him off on the LAPD, who assigns wisecracking Detective James Carter to watch over him. Although Lee and Carter can’t stand each other, they choose to work together to solve the case on their own when they figure out they’ve been ditched by both the FBI and police.
It’s been a long time since I first watched Rush Hour, but the movie held up well and is everything an action-adventure-comedy needs to be.
Rush Hour is funny, and I enjoyed it, but the purpose of my reviews is to provide teachable moments about the FBI and its law enforcement partners. While watching Rush Hour, I found a few topics to explore.
In the movie, when the Chinese diplomat’s young daughter is kidnapped, I wondered who’s responsible for providing security to foreign diplomats and their family members. I didn’t know, so I googled it and discovered the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Office of Foreign Missions is responsible for the protection of foreign embassies and consulates on U.S. soil. Since DSS does not have a true uniformed force with police powers, other agencies or local police departments are reimbursed for providing this service; two notables are the Secret Service Uniformed Division in Washington, D.C. and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) (info from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security website).
Since Rush Hour takes place in Los Angeles, I wonder if in real life the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on behalf of the DSS, protects foreign consulates and embassies located there. If you know, send me documentation and I’ll update this post.
However, security protection and law enforcement investigation are different.
I analyzed the FBI’s response to the kidnapping as depicted in Rush Hour. As far as policy and procedural accuracy, it works, except for the lack of direct participation by the LAPD. The assignment given to LAPD Detective James Carter to watch Hong Kong Detective Inspector Lee doesn’t count.
With the kidnapping of a child under the age of 18, the local police would immediately invite the FBI to be involved in the kidnapping/abduction investigation. There does not have to be a ransom demand, the child does NOT have to cross the state lines or be missing for 24 hours.
And those scenes with agents embedded in the home of the Chinese diplomat, working closely with him to assess who he has been in contact with, and monitoring phone calls and activities? They’re good. That’s how it works for real, but maybe not so many agents.
Rush Hour took place in 1998, but today, the FBI would activate the Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team.
CARD teams are experienced and highly trained FBI Field Office agents available for rapid deployment to assist state, local, tribal, and campus law enforcement partners with investigations during fast-moving, recently occurring child abduction matters. CARD teams can quickly establish an on-site command post to centralize investigative efforts and operations (info from FBI website).
Learn more about how the FBI investigates child kidnapping cases in these FBI Retired Case File Review episodes:
Rush Hour is currently streaming on Max and is available for rent on multiple platforms. Watch the official trailer here.