How ‘Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift’ Saved the Franchise

When Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift was released in the summer of 2006, it was almost immediately dismissed as a joke. There was no Paul walker. There was no Vin Diesel (apart from a brief cameo that the public was not aware of beforehand). Instead, we got an average of 20 Lucas Black ridiculously playing a high school student in a story that left America’s muscle car scene behind in favor of bizarre Japanese street racing in parking lots. Universal almost threw it straight to video. Once it hit theaters, it was attacked by critics, it opened third at the box office behind Cars and free nacho (ouch), and it trailed to $ 62 million nationally. So basically a total disaster.

Well, except for the fact that Tokyo drift rules completely and, without it, the Fast and Furious The franchise we know and love today would not exist. You do not believe me? Consider the evidence. Just to start, Tokyo drift is where the director Justin lin He boarded the series, and it was immediately clear that he seemed born for the job. Drift It may feature a goofy plot involving teenage grudges and Yakuza mob antics, but its racing scenes buzz with exciting intensity. Beyond that, the movie feels great, like you’re stepping into a seductive, neon-lit world that really exists just a few streets away, if only you were hip enough to join in.


Image via Universal Pictures

Universal, realizing that they had a filmmaker who clearly understood how to make these things work, decided to bring Lin back for film four. He stayed behind the wheel for the next three installments around the world: Fast and Furious, Fast five, Y Fast and Furious 6 – where the series grew from guilty pleasure about street racers stealing DVD players to becoming the global box office giant it is today. Each featured Lin refining and expanding his action skills as the pieces got bigger and more mind-blowing.

And Lin wasn’t the only one Fast and Furious crew member to make his debut in Tokyo drift. Writer Chris morgan joined the series with that installment and would continue to chart the narrative course of the entire saga, writing each subsequent main line F&F term until the eighth partThe fate of the furious), just like him Hobbs and Shaw cleave. Also, composer Brian tyler approached the franchise with Tokyo drift, providing the film with a propelling mix of hip-hop and rock. Tyler would come back to drop the beat for four more installments.


Image via Universal Pictures

Also, of course, we need to talk about Han, the cucumber-cool companion played by Sung Kang | who never stops snacking and makes every scene he’s in better. A friend of Lin’s who had appeared in the director’s crime thriller in 2002, Better luck tomorrow, Kang exuded effortlessly coldness Tokyo drift. Even though his character was killed, he became such an ingrained part of the Fast and Furious universe that the next three sequels to the series were craftily constructed as Drift prequels just so Han could keep appearing in them. (Never mind that it doesn’t make an iota of sense, especially when you see technology continuing to advance from Tokyo driftfolding phones.)

Lin may have been the driving force that kept Han around, but the fanbase ended up loving the boy, and it could be argued that he is a big reason why. Fast and Furious cast has grown as much as it has. Diesel has always been the franchise’s biggest star (apologies to Dwayne johnson), and Paul walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Y Jordana Brewster they have had significant presences from the beginning. (Walker was tragically killed in an unrelated car accident while Furious 7 was in production). But the audience’s enthusiasm for Han, a fringe character, may have been an impetus to go all-in on a deep list, as the franchise continued to expand and bring back cast members from the past. At this point, you just need to drop your character names: Roman, Tej, Gisele, Elena, the list goes on, and fans of the series will nod and smile accordingly.


Image via Universal Pictures

Oh, and speaking of Diesel, he ends up showing up in Tokyo drift – the actor accepted a funny little cameo as Dom Toretto in the film’s final moments as part of a trade with Universal to get the rights to Black tone and his Riddick character. But it must have rejuvenated his passion for the series, since just three years later Diesel used Driftcreative team to relaunch the series with the original cast in Fast and Furious. Do you see what I’m saying now? It is very possible none of this happens Without the adventures of Lucas Black in Tokyo!

Or it continues to happen, for that matter. After taking off a couple of movies, Lin is back in the director’s chair for the next F9: The Quick Saga. Tyler scores again. And lo and behold, even Han is back, even though he definitely died at the end of Tokyo drift, which was reconfigured at the end of Fast and Furious 6 make Deckard Shaw the villain turned into a reluctant good boy (Jason statham) responsible for his death. Shaw’s acceptance into Dom’s extended family has never been entirely good for him. Fast and Furious superfans, who started the only somewhat ironic #JusticeForHan hashtag campaign a few years ago. One thing that can’t be said about this franchise is that it doesn’t give fans exactly what they want, and the tagline “Justice is coming” at the end of the film trailer served as a conspiratorial wink for those who have been obsessed. with the relentless melodrama of the series.


Image via Universal Pictures

So Han is alive, unless Kang plays Han’s twin, which sounds unlikely, but you never know with these movies, and we’ve all been waiting since the COVID pandemic delayed the movie from its release date to find out. exactly how. Hopefully we’ll find out on June 25, when the movie is scheduled to premiere. While you wait, there are certainly worse things you could do than give Tokyo drift another watch. It’s a nice and underrated entry in the F&F franchise from when these movies had a little more foundation. And it would help chart the course for all the endlessly entertaining sequels to come.

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