Face-Off: Bad Boys vs. Rush Hour

Last Updated on October 12, 2021

Nice to see you again, fans of the cinema! This is the Face-Off, where two movies enter and both movies leave, but one leaves in a slightly better light. Yes, here we take two competitors and compare their key elements and see who comes out the champion. It's a fierce competition that results in blood, tears, and online arguments, but the more brutal the battle, the sweeter the victor

After experiencing eight movies in the main series of movies audiences got to see the first spinoff in the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise, HOBBS & SHAW, spin into theaters. Starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, the movie embraces the fun-loving spirit of the buddy cop genre while integrating the bonkers FF action we have all come to know and love. In that same spirit, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at two other memorable entries in the buddy cop field and see which does the action, the comedy and bromance better than the other: It's time for BAD BOYS vs. RUSH HOUR

The first was indeed a first big step for many of the now globally-known names involved, namely Will Smith, Martin Lawrence and director Michael Bay. The first feature from Bay before he would go on to blow shit up on every continent and in space, this movie would catapult the movie careers of Smith and Lawrence and make full-fledged movie stars. A few years later, RUSH HOUR would mark a major step in the already successful career of Jackie Chan, who was finally about to crack Hollywood in a huge way by teaming up with the up-and-coming star Chris Tucker for a blend of fun martial arts action and the latter's fast-talking comedy.

Both of these movies found major success, launched sequels and made everyone involved bigger stars than they already were. But now we will compare the two movies, and find out which wins the battle of the buddy cop flick and the ultimate prize of the Platinum BFF Necklace. 

The Ensemble

Martin Lawrence as Marcus Burnett
Will Smith as Mike Lowrey
Tea Leoni  as Julie Mott
Joe Pantoliano as Captain Conrad Howard
Theresa Randle as Theresa Burnett
Tcheky Karyo as Fouchet
Nestor Serrano as Detective Sanchez
Julio Oscar Mechoso as Detective Ruiz
Michael Imperioli as Jojo
Marg Helgenberger as Captain Alison Sinclair
Saverio Guerra as Chet

Jackie Chan as Detective Inspector Yang Naing Lee
Chris Tucker as Detective James Carter
Tzi Ma as Consul Solon Han
Ken Leung as Sang
Elizabeth Pena as Detective Tania Johnson
Mark Rolston as Agent Warren Russ
Philip Baker Hall as Captain William Diel
Chris Penn as Clive Cobb
with Tom Wilkinson as Thomas Griffin/Juntao


Audiences didn't have to wait for Michael Bay to start blowing up whole cities using asteroids and robots to see the man had a knack for over-the-top action and chaos filled with over-dramatic intensity and style. Even as far back as his first movie, BAD BOYS, he was relishing in taking every moment where even something mildly exciting was happening and making it as ridiculous and unabashed as possible. Whether it be the gunfight scenes that operate with zero regards for civilian casualties or Will Smith running with an open shirt through the streets of Miami, Bay makes everything barrel at a mile a minute and only gives the viewer a chance to slow down and catch a breath when things go into slo-mo, the characters looking very dramatically at something while covered in sweat (which everyone seems to be). This style is perfectly suited to a mid-90s action movie when it was still okay for cop-action flicks to be as ridiculous as possible, and Bay gives it that sun-drenched vibe and makes excellent use of the leading men at the core. Let it never be said Bay has never had a distinct style that makes a movie with so little going below the surface look so effortlessly cool.

Brett Ratner is the kind of director where you could throw a dart at any of the movies in his catalog, and whichever one it lands on you would go, “Yeah, that one was…fine.” There's nothing particularly special about the way he frames his shots or makes his scenes work, and his movies are simply set up and are popcorn entertainment at their most digestible. That goes for X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, TOWER HEIST, HERCULES, AFTER THE SUNSET with a minor, minor exception with RED DRAGON. His work on RUSH HOUR is no different, delivering an easy, breezy action-comedy where the ultimate claim to fame is exacting the natural chemistry from his two leads. Everything moves at a lively pace that keeps the jokes coming and ensures that Jackie Chan's skills remain the star, which is Ratner's greatest acheivement here. But, in terms of putting a unique stamp on the movie that only he could provide (much like Bay does with his work), Ratner is a guy who doesn't really have much of a stamp to being with.


Thank god for Bay making this movie look as stylish as it is and for making the action scenes as ludicrous and entertaining as they are, because the script BAD BOYS is just plain bad. Written by , Michael Barrie, Jim Mulholland and Doug Richardson and filled with every cop cliche you can think of, without the improvosation by Smith and Lawrence and the guidance of Bay this would've just made the straight-to-video pile. Some bad guys break into the police department and steal some pricey drugs, and then across two hours the main characters have to, I guess, find them and stop them, but aren't that great in going about it. Trying to capitalize on the fish-out-water scenario, for some reason, the story comes to a standstill when Lawrence's Burnett and Smith's Lowery have to play a game of Wife Swap and live in each other's shoes. Why the story takes this route, god only knows. Because of it we get a lot of whacky shenangians and misunderstandings that might, at their best, give the story an action-comedy vibe rather than a straighter action flick. It's such a simple story that jumps through bizarre hoops, only to bounce from set piece to set piece or joke to joke that it's hard to discern if there even is a story. Again, praise be to Lawrence and Smith — who were told by Bay to improvise given the bad script — for making these moments entertaining. 

The story for RUSH HOUR is, at its core, not any more groundbreaking than the one in BAD BOYS, but at least where HOUR succeeds is that writers Jim Kouf and Ross LaManna understood that and built out from there in mostly effective ways. No incredulous story liberties here, and we simply follow Chan and Tucker as they traverse Los Angeles looking for a missing girl, and after getting off on the wrong foot manage to find common ground along the way. Like in BAD BOYS, there was a lot of improvosation going on, but that's chalked up to Tucker just doing his thing no matter what anyone said. Like Ratner's direction, the scriptwork lays the foundation for popcorn entertainment at it's least demanding, offering no mystery or complex story/character work, but keeps everything on the focus of its two leads as they progress towards a goal. In terms of a story and hitting the plot points that easily wins the day over the clunky work from the BAD BOYS script, which somehow manages to lose sight of a plot involving cops hunting down drug peddlers. 

Best Bits & Lines


Car Jack Gone Wrong

Drug Heist

Friend Gunned Down

Smith Shoved Throw Dramatic Window

Apartment Shoot Out

Bathroom Fight

Bar Fight

Home Invasion Gone Wrong

Questioning Jojo

Lowery on the Move

Final Shoot Out

Race on the Runway 


Store Clerk: “Freeze, mother bitches!”
Lowrey: “You freeze, bitch! Now back up, put the gun down, and get me a pack of Tropical Fruit Bubblicious.”
Burnett: “And some Skittles.”


Burnett: “You forgot your boarding pass.”


Lowrey: “It's $105,000 and this happens to be one of the fastest production cars on the planet. Zero to sixty in four seconds, sweetie. It's a limited edition.”
Burnett: “You damn right it's limited. No cup holder, no back seat. Just a shiny dick with two chairs in it. I guess we the balls just draggin' the fuck along.”


Lowrey: “Don't be alarmed, we're negros.”
Burnett: “Naw man, naw. There's too much bass in your voice. That scares white folks. You got to sound like them. [high voice] 'We were wondering if we could borrow some brown sugar…?'”


Mott: “That's flesh that you're shoveling into your mouth. You know, that was, like, a living, breathing creature. You know, it probably had a name.”
Burnett: “It's just bologna. My bologna has a first name.”


Lowrey: “What are you talking about, man? You sleep with a beautiful woman everyday.”
Burnett: “I'm married. That's what married means. It means you sleep together, but you can't get none.”


Lowrey: “Marcus, I just have one question for ya bro. How the hell you gonna leave my ass at a gun fight to go get the car!”


Burnett: “If you don't sit your lanky ass down right now, bottom-line, I will knock you the fuck out.”


Lowery: “Now that's how you supposed to drive! From now on that's how you drive!”


Chan Crashes the Party

Tucker Blows (Up) the Mission

Carpool Karaoke


Chan and Tucker Meet

Chasing Down Chan

Dive Bar Rumble

Chasing Down the Suspect

War (What is it Good For)

Food Tasting

Restaurant Rumble

Push the Button!

Museum Fight




Carter: “…which one of y'all kicked me?”


Lee: “The Beach Boys are great American music.”
Carter: “The Beach Boys gonna get you a great ass whuppin'. Don't you ever touch a black man's radio, boy! “


Lee: “Not being able to speak is not the same as not speaking..”


Carter: “This is the LAPD. We're the most hated cops in all the free world. My own mama's ashamed of me. She tells everybody I'm a drug dealer.”


Carter: “Man, just sit there and shut up! This ain't no democracy.”
Lee: “Yes, it is.”
Carter: “No, it ain't. This is the United States of James Carter. I'm the president, I'm the emperor, I'm the king. I'm Michael Jackson, you Tito. Your ass belongs to me.”


Carter: “My daddy'll kick your daddy's ass all the way from here to China, Japan, wherever the hell you from and all up that Great Wall too.”
Lee: “Hey, don't talk about my father.”
Carter: “Don't talk about my daddy.”


Captain Diel: “You destroyed half a city block!”
Carter: “That block was already messed up.”
Captain Diel: “And you lost a lot of evidence!”
Carter: “We still got a little bit left.”


Carter: Okay, twenty million in twenties.
Sang: And ten million in tens.
Carter: Ten million in tens. Okay. You want any fives with that?


Carter: “Because they don't give a damn about you! They don't like you! I don't like you!”
Lee: “I don't care! I'm here for the girl!”
Carter: “The girl don't like you! Nobody likes you!”


Carter: “Bobby, didn't I look the other way that time you bought that bag of weed?”
Bobby: “I was splittin' it with you!”
Carter: “Well, didn't I give you the bigger half?”


Lee: I like to let people talk who like to talk. It lets me find out how full of shit they are.
Carter: What the hell did you just say?


Chin: “I'm no punk bitch.”
Carter: “I ain't no punk bitch, neither!”
Chin: “I'M no punk bitch!”



Dynamic Duo

Smith and Lawrence are this movie's biggest saving grace, showcasing their talents beyond what their TV shows were providing them with at the time. Not only are they expert comedians getting let off the leash, but they also completely fall under Bay's spell and commit fully to the over-dramatic action and gunplay. From the moment they're first seen onscreen, cruising around in Lowery's car and bickering over Lawrence eating fast food and making a mess, the two seamlessly come off as men who love each other like brothers, showing it through fast, macho banter and even playful hostility. Burnett's character development may never get beyond “I'm married and not having sex!” and it gets laid on thick that Lowery wants to be seen as more than a guy with tons of cash and lady friends, but their chemistry matters more than their development. Through the improv, they perfectly complement each other's comedy, like when Smith added in the “…and get me a pack of Tropical Fruit Bubbalicious,” with Lawrence touching it up with the simple, “and some Skittles.” God, it's gonna be good to see them back together again.

Whereas BAD BOYS hinges itself on the instant chemistry between the two leads, RUSH HOUR is all about the two coming together over time, all despite their significant cultural differences. The two have easy-going, charming chemistry that makes some of the banter feel natural, even if a lot of it is Tucker rattling off lines to a silent, perhaps perplexed Chan. Same goes for the reversal too, with Chan getting to steal the show with his reliably entertaining fight choreography while Tucker simply does what he can while trying to stay out of the way. When Smith and Lawrence are apart in BAD BOYS things feel a little stagnant, and when they're together is when things get popping. I would say that in the case of the first HOUR that the opposite is true for Chan and Tucker. Not that they're bad together — as they do make quite the pair here — but they both have their skill set and can do their things and make it compliment the movie. Their growth certainly makes the story better than BOYS', but when it comes to pure chemistry, Smith and Lawrence have this one locked down.

The Action

BADY BOYS sports the kind of action you won't find in movies anymore less it be covered in CGI to the point of seeming off-putting. By that I mean you have completely over-the-top gunfights in the middle of screaming crowds, with no one caring about anyone's safety or really anything else around them; The heroes unironically slide across the hoods of their cars as a way of getting to the other side in the coolest way possible; Everyone shoots wildly with no tact while taking cover behind flammable objects, all before lighting one up with a clever catchphrase. It's unapologetically brash and entirely devoid of substance, but its endlessly entertaining, and with Bay behind the lens you get those *chef's kiss* stylistic choices that make the familiar seem distinct, and makes these two men known more for comedy seem like true action stars.

The action chops in this movie are entirely reliant on the always mesmerizing work of Chan. Even if the kung-fu work here is nowhere near as impressive as his work in POLICE STORY, DRUNKEN MASTER and his other Chinese-language work, his moves here still have that unique Chan vibe that blends the stylish with colorful fun. Other martial arts action stars have fun with their work, and always manage to come off as total badasses, but nobody does it like Chan, bringing such a playful air to any scene without sacrificing any skill. He makes every object in the room a prop for comedy and action, whether he's fighting in a fancy museum, juggling a piece of valuable art while punching two baddies, or in a dive bar making thrilling use of a pool cue. Yeah, there are some explosions and some shoot outs, but it's all on Chan's shoulders to make the action match Tucker's humor, and he doesn't disappoint.

The Comedy

As I've covered, Smith and Lawrence are two very funny men. Smith was becoming a superstar thanks to the comedy FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR, while Lawrence had his show, MARTIN, both of which were two of the most popular TV comedies during their runs. So together, they complement each other's humor with brotherly banter that could go for ages as long as Bay kept the cameras running. Several funny lines come from the duo being let loose with an R-rating, and their humor bounces so well of each other that when they're apart, things can start to feel a little flat. Side characters like Joe Pantoliano and Tea Leoni get good back and forths with the boys, and all this makes BAD BOYS one of Bay's funnier movies, which is a good thing considering his movies work better the less seriously you take them.

If Chan has the action on lock, then Tucker has the humor. Aside from the more culturally insensitive (and rather cheap) putdowns, Tucker throws out at Chan there's more than enough funny bits from the then up-and-coming comedy star. Able to go into any scene and dominate the room, much like he did in FRIDAY before this, Tucker finds ways to play with any scenario and mines energetic, fastly-delivered bits while everyone just sits back and lets him riff. Like I said, not all his jokes hold up as well with a modern viewing, but Tucker does the job of keeping things afloat in the comedy department, and even Chan gets some sweetly funny moments in there for good measure (“War” scene). Why this movie wins this category is because the humor doesn't just come from Tucker or some scenes between he and Chan, but also from some of the action scenes, like when Chan is fighting off two men while trying to balance the priceless vase in the final act. There's so much more room for humor, and moreso than the action is drives much of the energy of the movie and makes such an easy, undemanding experience. 

Awards, Praise & Money


Nothing special

*1 Win and 3 Nominations* Per IMDb


Rotten Tomatoes: 42% (78% Audience)
IMDb: 6.9
Metacritic: 41 (8.7 Audience)


$65 million domestic ($141 million global)


Nothing special

*6 Wins and 9 Nominations* Per IMDb


Rotten Tomatoes: 60% (78% Audience)
IMDb: 7.0
Metacritic:  60 (8.7 Audience)


$141 million domestic ($244 million global)


It's no wonder why BAD BOYS made movie stars out of Smith and Lawrence and launched Bay's exhausting movie career, because all three storm right out of the gate and make themselves known as personalities to take notice of. The main duo is infectiously charming and up to the task as bona fide action stars, and Bay showcases that eye for absurd style and wild action. But a great movie that doth not make, and the script does a lot to weigh the movie down and not get as much mileage out of the two as it should. On the flip side, RUSH HOUR is hardly a smarter movie, but it's more streamlined and effortlessly entertaining as a result, making excellent use of the stars' varying talents. Tucker makes every word count with his machine-gun volley of riffs, and Chan is as exciting as always with fast hands and daring acrobatics. Yeah, BAD BOYS has the style, but in the realm of entertaining buddy cop action-comedies, RUSH HOUR has more bangs, kicks, and quips for its buck. 

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