Thomas Griffin, formerly known as Juntao, is the main antagonist from New Line Cinema's 1998 action/comedy film Rush Hour. He was a Triad's leader that sumggled priceless pieces of Chinese culture out of the country. When Lee foiled his operation, he threatened Chinese Consul Solon Han by abducting his daughter and forcing him to give him millions of dollars as ransom. Juntao is portrayed by Tom Wilkinson.
Griffin was a police commander who was secretly the infamous crime lord known as Juntao. Griffin had the daughter of his associate, Consul Solon Han, named Soo Yung, kidnapped by his henchman, Sang so that he could hold her for ransom, while he pretended to help Han find her as he awaited the ransom money. Chief Inspector Lee and his partner Detective James Carter were assigned the task of locating and rescuing Soo Yung, as well as discovering the identities of her attackers.
When Detective Inspector Lee and his partner were investigating Juntao, they were presumably involved in an ambush and his partner was killed by Juntao in the process. During the British ruler ship of Hong Kong, Griffin and Chinese Consul Solon Han were close friends and were Lee's superiors of the Hong Kong Police Force as they were investigating Juntao's recent activities. Before the events detailed below, Griffin under his Juntao name sent his right-hand man, Sang, down to the harbor to acquire and catalog priceless pieces of Chinese culture to smuggle them out of the country.
Griffin appeared at the Los Angeles Convention Center where an art exhibition took place, and he was seen making a speech with Consul Han at his side. Lee and Carter arrived, Griffin's cover was soon blown, and he revealed that Soo Yung was held hostage in a van outside with a bomb vest attached to her. Carter went to rescue Soo Yung and dared Griffin to detonate the bomb vest in front of him and Sang (who was also present). Griffin escaped into the rafters and Lee gave chase, after he successfully removed the bomb vest from Soo Yung, while Carter dealt with Griffin's henchmen and finally killed Sang. Griffin attacked Lee with his suitcase full of ransom money, but accidentally toppled over the edge, and was left hanging onto Lee's bomb vest. As Griffin struggled to keep his grip, the bomb vest tore under his weight and sent him plunging to his death into a fountain below.
Powers and Abilities
Role in the film
While Sang and his henchman were down at the harbor for the smuggling, Lee, who is leading a raid at the docks to find and arrest Juntao, confronts Sang and demands the whereabouts of Juntao, though Sang jokingly declares that Juntao is everywhere. Sang escapes from the harbor, but Lee managed to foil Juntao's plan. At a dinner party to celebrate Consul Han's departure to the states, Lee whispers to Han about foiling Juntao's plot and Han announces that Lee defeated Juntao by eliminating his criminal organization and reclaimed artifacts from five thousands years of China's history.
Juntao later goes to Los Angeles and to get revenge against Han and Lee orders Sang to kidnap Han's daughter, Soo-Yung. Sang attempts to after he kills Soo-Yung's bodyguard and driver, but she fought back long enough to escape. However, as Soo-Yung attempted to run away, she was picked up by a motorcycle henchman of Sang and was dragged into a white van.
Under Juntao's orders, Sang phones the consul later that night, only to find himself talking to L.A.P.D Detective James Carter, who he mistakes for an FBI agent with Carter playing along. Carter takes up Sang's ransom demand of $50 million and poorly arranges a drop.
When Sang kills some FBI agents that were tricked into going to a drop point in a building that was rigged to explode, Lee sees him coming out of a hiding place and chases him inside a building with Carter following them. Sang drops one of the detonators that Juntao had given him, but Lee and Carter recovered it after Sang escaped again. Lee and Carter soon learn from Carter's colleague, Detective Tania Johnson, that the detonator was a remote that can blow up explosives like C4, which was the explosive Carter had not recovered while arresting bomb maker Clive Cobb earlier in the film. This brings them to Clive, where they learn from him that Juntao was the mastermind behind the kidnapping of Soo-Yung.
Later, Juntao and Sang are hiding out at the Foo Chow restaurant in Chinatown. Sang orders the consul by phone to take the ransom money he demanded behind the restaurant, reminding him that he has twenty nine minutes left. Carter later enters the restaurant, posing as a lawyer and pretends to look for Juntao. He orders the waitress to tell Juntao to come see him. Upstairs, the waitress walks up to Sang telling him that someone was looking for a man named Juntao. Sang sees Carter on the security camera and orders his henchman to bring him to them. Juntao tells him to hold it and with a scowl on his face he sees Lee on the security monitor sitting at a table. He orders them to get Soo-Yung out of the building and tells Sang to make sure that Lee and Carter do not leave the restaurant alive.
Carter is brought up to meet with Sang and his men. Carter suddenly sees Griffin on the security monitor outside the restaurant, but does not know that he is Juntao. Sang closes the monitor and he and his men menacingly stare down Carter. This leads to Carter being captured, but Lee rescues him after disguising himself as one of the waiters from the restaurant. They fight off Juntao's men long enough to escape.
Sang later phoned the consul, angrily telling him that the ransom has been increased from $50 million to $70 million, and threatened to kill Soo-Yung if anything else goes wrong. Disgraced and guilt-ridden, Lee and Carter are ordered off the investigation, and Lee is informed that he will be sent back to Hong Kong. Carter refuses to drop the case and confronts Lee on his plane to enlist his help, and the two men decide to save Soo-Yung together.
Griffin later visits Han at his consulate home, embracing him in a hug and apologizing for leaving him an emotional wreck. Griffin and Han then explained to FBI agents Warren Russ and Dan Whitney about their history with Juntao. Griffin explains for fifteen years until China was in control of Hong Kong, Juntao was the most powerful crime lord in South East Asia. The British tried to close down his operation, but they had failed. Russ asks why Juntao would kidnapped Soo-Yung and Han explained about how he and Lee had foiled every aspect of Juntao's criminal operation, confiscating millions in weapons and cash and a collection of Chinese arts that was surpassed to the world. Griffin then said that Juntao disappeared with no witnesses. When Whitney asked if he really thinks he will kill the girl, Griffin suggests to Han that he should "pay the money".
At the Los Angeles Convention Center, which Han and Griffin are overseeing, and where the ransom is being delivered in the upstairs control room, Sang appears at the event dressed as a waiter and he and Griffin exchange looks. During Consul Han's speech to present the art work, he stops when he says that it can passed on to the children, feeling distraught over the disappearance of his only daughter. Griffin decides to take over from where Han left off. Carter suddenly recognizes Griffin as the man he saw on the security monitor at the restaurant from and creates a scene, where he warns the spectators about a threat of a bomb in the building and tells them to evacuate. In the confusion, Lee sees Sang handing Griffin a detonator identical to the one he and Carter had previously recovered, deducing that Griffin and Juntao are one and the same.
He goes to confront him but Juntao then threatens to detonate a bomb vest attached to Soo Yung if the delivery is interrupted. He also reveals that the priceless pieces that are a part of the exhibition were once part of his collection and he intends to get them back. During the stand-off, Carter manages to sneak out and locate Soo Yung. Carter proceeds to take the vest off her, but Soo Yung tells him that she heard them say that the vest will go off if anyone tries to take it off incorrectly. Carter then drives the van into the building and brings the bomb vest within range to kill Griffin and his men inside the exhibition. He challenges Griffin to push the detonator, but Griffin hesitates to do so. As Carter demands that he push the button, Griffin orders Sang to deal with Carter. Sang shoots at Carter causing a gunfight to break out between the FBI and Juntao's thugs.
During the gunfight, Lee and Johnson climb into the back of the van and Johnson manages to defuse the bomb and rescue Soo-Yung, but tells him that the vest still can be set off with the remote. Lee then takes the vest and pursues Griffin. Meanwhile, Griffin goes up to the upstairs control room and shoots the agents up there, including Russ. He then takes the briefcase with the money and leaves.
While Griffin is calling for a helicopter transportation and attempting to escape with the money, Lee continues to pursue him calling him "Juntao!" as he does so. As he makes his way to the roof, Lee pursues him up several sets of maintenance ladders. He shoots at Lee but misses and throws his gun away in frustration after running out of bullets. Lee catches him before he could go to the roof, but accidentally looks down. Griffin hits Lee with the briefcase three times, but on the fourth try he misses, and both men fall over the railing, with Lee holding onto a rafter and Griffin holding onto the bomb vest, which Lee is wearing. The money falls out of the case that Griffin was holding. Carter then looks up at the money falling and jokingly asks "Thank you, God?" Suddenly, the bomb vest starts falling apart as Griffin is holding onto Lee. Griffin holds on until it finally rips, sending Griffin falling to his death into a fountain below, causing Carter to proclaim "Whoo! You know he dead".
- Griffin was the first villain to betray the police to run a criminal organization. Ricky Tan would be the second.
- Griffin was a close friend of Consul Han and was also one of Lee's old superiors. Consul Han would continue to be Lee's friend and superior until he left China to become a diplomat in the United States. Captain Chin is now Lee's superior, as first introduced in Rush Hour 2.
- Griffin kept his identity as Juntao a secret even from Han and Lee, until he was discovered at the end of the film, when Lee saw Sang handing him an explosive detonator controlled for Soo-Yung's bomb vest.
- Juntao, after arriving in the United States, might have brought with him explosives and weapons and went around town to find some more. Stuckey, Carter's fellow colleague working as a tour guide outside Grumman's, tells him about the rumor of Juntao as opposed to Juntao's kidnapping of Soo-Yung.
- Juntao was the first Triad leader to appear in the Rush Hour series. The second was Ricky Tan (in Rush Hour 2), and Kenji was the last and final, appearing in the third film.
- Griffin's name "Thomas' in the film is his real name in real life.
Differences to the other villains