In an interview, director Brett Ratner admitted that the first part of the karaoke scene with Chris Tucker was not supposed to be filmed. Tucker refused to act like Michael Jackson with the cameras running. Between takes, he went up as entertainment for everyone. Secretly, Ratner told the cameramen to film it but to not let Tucker notice them.
The counterfeit dollar bills used in the movie say, "In Dog We Trust." During shooting, some extras walked off the set with some of the fake cash, and it eventually ended up in a few casinos in Las Vegas. The situation went so out-of-control that production was briefly shut down when the FBI subjected the props department to an investigation to determine whether or not they violated the Counterfeit Deterrence Act of 1992.
On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1992), Chris Tucker said that while he was filming this movie in Hong Kong, many locals mistook him for NBA star Kobe Bryant. In the film, while Tucker's character is running up the stairs, the old woman shouts, "Move out of the way, Kobe," to him.
Ziyi Zhang could not speak English, so she had to take direction via the combination of an interpreter (often Jackie Chan himself) and director Brett Ratner essentially performing "charades." Her character only says three English words in the movie: "Some apple?" and, later, "Out!" In an interview, Roselyn Sanchez said that Ziyi Zhang tried learning English from her, but tried to discourage her as she would have ended up speaking it with a Puerto Rican accent.
The scene where Carter gets the kosher meal was originally scripted to have Carter ask if Lee, "Want some of my gefilte fish?" after the stewardess left. However, Chris Tucker could not pronounce "gefilte," so the scene never made the final cut (outtakes of this scene are in the end credits). As a nod to this, in Rush Hour 3 (2007), Carter does manage to ask a stewardess if there is gefilte fish on his flight.
During the filming of the stunt where Lee and Carter jump from the top window of the Red Dragon hotel and then slide down the wires of Chinese Lanterns, a real (i.e. not part of the movie) car chase took place on/through the set. Apparently, a carload of drunken tourists (the set was in Las Vegas) got into an altercation with a taxi driver, and the two cars began a chase that ran down the strip and onto the set, narrowly missing crew members, extras and an enormous crane which held a camera and crew. Fortunately, no one was injured; the driver and passengers of the taxi were detained by police.
The part of the "Red Dragon" hotel was played by the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, Nevada. The sign was changed to read "Red Dragon," and the lower half of the building was painted red for the filming of the movie. The hotel was closed at the time, so evidence of the transformation remained for a while. The Desert Inn was demolished on October 23, 2001.
Philip Baker Hall, reprising his role of Captain Diel from Rush Hour (1998), and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman filmed cameos which did not make the final cut. Phillip Baker Hall's scene can be found in the deleted scenes section of the special features on the DVD.
The film made $347 million at the box office worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing installment in the franchise. It also made $226 million at the U.S. box office, becoming the highest-grossing installment in the franchise.
After the scaffold fight scene at the start of the movie, just before Lee and Carter fall into the market stall, Carter says, "I can't believe I flew 10,000 miles for this s**t," whereas it is only just over 7,200 miles from Los Angeles.
Chris Tucker ad-libbed many different versions of his short speech to Hu Li at the end of their fight. Director Brett Ratner felt the speech was not working and told Tucker to call her a "bitch." Tucker refused to say the word and it took hours of convincing by Ratner before Tucker finally agreed.
In the final fight scene with Hu Li, Carter defends himself with a roulette wheel. When Hu Li stabs at Carter with her sword, she hits the wheel directly on the "00" (double zero), which only appears on "American" roulette game wheels.