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Tokyo Drift is Now One of the Franchise’s Key Movies

The yet-to-be-explained resurrection of Sung Kang’s fan-favorite character Han in Fast and Furious 9 has retroactively made The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift one of the most important entries in the long-running franchise about street racing and family (and now Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto possibly going into space). While the fan base waits to see if the upcoming film will give satisfying #JusticeForHan, a return to the series’ drift-centric third installment is more apt now than ever before.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is, at the end of the day, a supremely silly movie. It follows the adventures of Sean Boswell, a painfully forgettable carboy from Alabama who is sent to live with his estranged father in Tokyo, and becomes embroiled in an underground racing circuit tied to the Yakuza. Han serves as a drift-mentor to Sean, in a storyline that can best be described as “The Karate Kid with street racing.” It’s possibly the dumbest entry in the franchise (not least because Tokyo Drift legitimately broke the law), and one of the worst movies in the series for female representation, yet somehow it still manages to be a fun and uniquely entertaining ride, almost entirely off the effortless cool of Sung Kang’s Han.

Related: Fast & Furious 9: Will Luke Evans’ Villain Owen Shaw Join Dom’s Crew?

Due to Han’s popularity, and Justin Lin’s takeover of the Fast & Furious franchise in the wake of Tokyo Drift, it made sense to pull some narrative sleight-of-hand to keep him in the story a little longer. Subsequently, the next three films were all set prior to the events of Tokyo Drift, and all three featured Han in progressively larger roles. Even Han’s death was retconned and pinned on Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw – a move that spawned the online #JusticeForHan movement after Shaw become an apparent member of la familia in The Fate of the Furious.

The survival of Han casts all eyes back to his apparently-not-death in Tokyo Drift, but there are other reasons why the film is now one of the most important in the franchise. Despite being one of the more polarizing Fast & Furious entries, Tokyo Drift is as relevant now as it’s ever been. So without further ado, here are a few reasons why there’s never been a better time to rewatch Tokyo Drift, and why it’s now become one of the series’ most important films.

Justin Lin’s Return To Fast & Furious Recenters Han and Tokyo Drift
Han Fast and furious Tokyo Drift

It’s fair to say that Justin Lin’s directorial return to Fast & Furious might have something to do with Han’s resurrection. Lin and Kang first created Han for Better Luck Tomorrow, a 2002 drama about a group of Asian American high school students connected by a violent crime. While not canonically connected to Fast & Furious, the Han in Better Luck Tomorrow is undoubtedly the same guy, right down to the Mustang he drives and the cigarettes he smokes (both are alluded to as elements of his past in Fast & Furious). It’s a fun watch for any die-hard Han fans and a significantly underrated film in its own right.

The fact is, when Lin took over the franchise, he led with Han. The four straight films he directed – a run that made the Fast & Furious series an international sensation – all featured Han in increasingly prominent roles. Lin was then absent from the next few films, which saw Han’s death questionably retconned, and the eventual rise of his murderer Shaw to hero-status in the critically panned Hobbs & Shaw spinoff.

Related: Fast & Furious: Why Paul Walker Didn’t Return In Tokyo Drift

While he’s not credited as a writer on the series, Lin’s return to the director’s chair for F9 is seen by many as a return-to-form for the franchise and giving Han the justice he deserves is at the center of that. That means that however Han’s return is ultimately explained, it’s going to go back to Tokyo Drift. We’re going to have to see that crash, again, and exactly what happened in its wake. It also means that Han’s return must be more than just a plot device, which is how he’s been treated for the past few films. Sung Kang’s performance created one of the most unique and compelling characters in the greater Fast & Furious world, and with Lin at the helm, there’s hope that the best of his story is still to come.

Han’s Return In F9 Solidifies His Status As A Major Character
Han Fast And The Furious 9

While Han is ostensibly a secondary character in Tokyo Drift, there’s no question that he’s the primary force driving the movie (It’s certainly not the Drift Kid from Alabama, who was initially meant to be Vin Diesel’s Toretto). Despite filling a supporting role in later films alongside the likes of Ludacris, Gal Godot, and Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang is the only recurring cast member to headline a whole film in the series without another member of the crew by his side. And yet, he’s generally still considered a minor character. That is, until now.

According to details released on F9, it looks like it will primarily focus on Dom Toretto’s rivalry and relationship with his long-lost brother, played by John Cena, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also make Han’s part of the story more important than it’s been in the past. That means potential for a number of interesting Han-centric storylines going forward, any one of which would be more compelling than The Fate of the Furious’s meager attempts at emotional stakes.

With Han possibly playing a more significant role in the series going forward (at least for F9 and the one after), it’s the perfect time to return to the movie that was all about him. From his tricked-out garage to his shady Yakuza connections, there’s a lot of threads that could be returned to now that Han’s back from the dead. Plus, Tokyo Drift makes a compelling argument that Han was the best driver in the Fast & Furious crew all along.

Related: Is Fast & Furious’ Drift King Real? Tokyo Drift Cameo Explained

Tokyo Drift Embodies What Fast & Furious Is All About
Han drifts through Tokyo in an orange and black Mazda RX7 in Tokyo Drift

At its core, Fast & Furious is still a series about… cars, and driving them quickly, and dangerously, and sometimes into or out of airplanes, and occasionally into one another on purpose. There are those who will take it a level deeper, and say that Fast & Furious, really, is about family. It’s a series about chosen family, and the power of different kinds of people to come together and form a whole greater than their individual parts. Then there are the people who majored in English solely so they could make this take: Fast & Furious is a series about atonement. Atoning for the past; atoning for the sins of the father (or brother); atoning for the ways your life affects the lives of others, for better or worse.

All right, yes, it’s a stretch – about as far as the jump between two of Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Towers – but the fact remains, there’s something more to this absurd franchise – something beyond the ballistic action – that keeps fans coming back for more of their favorite characters. It’s the reason people were more excited to see Han come back than they were about any of the action in the F9 trailer. All stories, even very silly stories, are driven by characters.

Tokyo Drift is an embodiment of that multi-layered nature that has brought the franchise so much love and success. It’s got the shiny cars, the club tunes, and all the fun racing action you want. But it’s still driven by a simple, compelling character-centric narrative. It’s not Shakespeare by any means and Tokyo Drift also reflects a lot of the less admirable aspects of the franchise, like the corny storylines and intermittent sexism. Tokyo Drift is not necessarily pretty, but it still holds at its center the x-factor that has consistently set Fast & Furious apart from other equivalent blockbusters – at least as far apart as two of Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Towers.

Tokyo Drift Offers A Potential Blueprint For The Franchise’s Future
Vin Diesel and Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift cast

It’s official that a tenth Fast & Furious movie is coming after F9, at the very least. But where does the series go after that? Where does a series go after it goes into space? Tokyo Drift could offer one possible answer. Despite being disconnected from the greater Fast & Furious story, Tokyo Drift still feels distinctly true to the spirit of the franchise. Of course, it wasn’t quite the moneymaker that the following films were, and there was never an official sequel, but it remains a beloved part of the series.

Related: Han’s Car In Fast & Furious 9 Is A Huge Tokyo Drift Easter Egg

Obviously, a franchise that is as monolithic and profitable as Fast & Furious isn’t going to just end – not even after ten core movies and a spinoff. That leaves a lot of options on the table. Hobbs & Shaw has already shown that spinoffs have the potential to win big at the box office, but the criticisms surrounding it also make it clear that when these movies lose their heart and soul, people notice.

To that end, Tokyo Drift might offer a better model for future Fast & Furious spinoffs and side projects. After all, the movie was basically a spinoff itself to begin with. If future projects embrace more of an anthology structure – with different stories being told around the world – but still focus on the core characters and themes that have made the movies resonate with fans, there’s real potential. Any number of characters from the core series could drop in or out, and the globetrotting adventure style that has become so central to Fast & Furious could remain intact. Whatever happens to the series going forward, there’s never been a better time to go back and give Tokyo Drift another watch.

Next: Fast & Furious: Every Car Han Drives In The Movies

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The 69-Year Story Behind The Fast And Furious Name


The Fast & Furious franchise started with the 2001 movie The Fast and the Furious and went through several major changes in its sequel titles. The title for the original movie was almost different, with options like Race Wars, but the producer fought for The Fast and the Furious.

As the Fast & Furious series has one of the most recognizable franchise names in cinema, some may be curious as to where its origin came from. The multi-billion-dollar franchise started with 2001’s straightforward street racing movie, The Fast and the Furious, but following that, the series went through several major changes, and that was mirrored in the Fast & Furious sequel movie titles. 2 Fast 2 Furious introduced numbered titles, then The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift immediately dropped that format. The fourquel confused things further with the title Fast & Furious, and it only got more confusing from there. However, every title is still a play on the original 2001 title.

The Fast and the Furious came to fruition following a Vibe magazine article called “Racer X”. Universal had the incredible foresight of seeing how popular street racing would become in the 2000s, and the studio quickly grabbed the movie rights to the article. However, while the movie was originally titled after the article, the studio wasn’t totally satisfied with that name, and many other titles, including Race Wars, were considered. The movie even went into production under the title Redline, but producer Neal Moritz had his mind set on one title that seemed unachievable to get; The Fast and the Furious.

RELATED: Fast & Furious Movies In Order – How (& Where) To Watch By Release Date & Chronologically

The Fast And The Furious Is Named After A 1954 Movie
Dom and Brian sitting on a car with their friends in The Fast and the Furious

Another movie titled The Fast and the Furious already existed, and it was released almost half a century before the 2001 street racing film was released. 1954’s The Fast and the Furious, written by Roger Corman, has nothing to do with street racing as it exists today. The movie follows a prison escapee who kidnaps a rich woman and steals her Jaguar, then ends up in an epic road race that ends in Mexico. While the title perfectly fits the 1954 film, Moritz was desperate to use the title for his own movie that he was producing, having learned about it after seeing a Roger Corman documentary (via Entertainment Weekly).

Moritz detailed how Universal didn’t seem to be completely on board at first. The producer explained, “I called up the head of marketing at Universal the next morning and said ‘Okay, I’ve got the title: The Fast and the Furious!’ And there was just silence on the other end. I was like, ‘Oh, I guess that is the worst title he’s ever heard.’ However, after mulling it over, Universal agreed, and it worked out perfectly, as the whole world now knows that name and it’s synonymous with the Vin Diesel-led franchise. Movie titles are extremely important, and it’s less likely that the movie would have become a billion-dollar franchise if it was titled Race Wars.

Paul Walker smiles in Dom's garage in The Fast and the Furious

Moritz revealed, “we made a deal with Roger to give him the use of some stock footage that Universal owned.” It isn’t clear if Corman ever benefited financially from that footage. In hindsight, he undoubtedly got a terrible deal. The Fast & Furious name is extremely important to the franchise and has made Universal billions. The name has even been used for spinoffs, and Fast & Furious Present: Hobbs & Shaw wouldn’t have made $760 million without the name attached to it. However, there was no knowing how huge the franchise became. After all, The Fast and the Furious was originally just a scrappy crime movie based on a magazine article.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

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Fast X Video Reveals BTS Of Real, Practical Fights In OTT Sequel


The Fast X fight between Letty and Cipher was filmed using practical effects, resulting in a well-choreographed hand-to-hand combat sequence full of emotions. Cipher’s decision to team up with Dom and “La Familia” was out of necessity, but spending time with Letty after escaping prison could lead to her becoming a member of the family. Cipher’s unexplored history with Giselle and her association with Letty could help in mellowing down the former villain and potentially setting up a redemption arc or even a Cipher spin-off.

A new Fast X behind-the-scenes video shows how Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Cipher’s (Charlize Theron) intense fight scene was filmed. Dom and his “La Familia” returned on the big screen in 2023 for the tenth main installment of The Fast Saga. In a major twist, however, instead of butting heads again with Cipher, the primary villain of the franchise for several recent entries, Letty had to team up with her. That didn’t stop Letty from expressing her true feelings about her when they were both captured by the Agency.

Courtesy of Collider is a behind-the-scenes clip from Louis Leterrier’s Fast X that offers a look at how Cipher and Letty’s one-on-one fight scene was filmed. Check out the video below:

The Fast X fight is arguably one of the best choreographed hand-to-hand combat in The Fast Saga, and it’s all because they filmed it with practical effects. The result, coupled with the history between the pair, is an effective action sequence full of emotions.

How Cipher & Letty’s Relationship Evolves In Fast & Furious 11
Cipher wearing a coat in Fast X

Granted that Cipher’s decision to team up with Dom and “La Familia” came from necessity after she was targeted by Jason Momoa’s Dante, spending more time with Letty after escaping prison can lead to her becoming a proper member of “La Familia.” There’s precedent to this, with a few of the recent The Fast Saga villains ending up being redeemed and joining Dom and his crew. This has been the case with Deckard Shaw (despite his attempted murder of Han Lue), and more recently, John Cena’s Jakob, who sacrificed himself in Fast X to save Little B.

Increasing the chances of this happening is Cipher’s unexplored history with Giselle. After she and Letty finally escaped the Agency’s bunk prison, they found themselves in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully, Giselle came to the rescue after Cipher notified her of their escape plan. There has never been any indication that Cipher and Giselle know each other before the massive Fast X twist. Making this more surprising is that Giselle has been believed to be dead for several years now. Her association with Giselle could help Letty mellow down on the former villain when they all return for Fast and Furious 11.

RELATED: Fast X Cliffhanger Ending Explained

Perhaps, this unexpected turn could be a set-up for the in-development Cipher spin-off. Specific plot details about the project are currently scant, with Universal still not announcing a tentative release date. Nevertheless, the events of Fast X could be the start of her redemption arc, with her relationship with Letty functioning as a barometer of whether viewers can finally forgive her for all of her transgressions.

Source: Collider

Key Release Dates Fast and Furious 11 temp poster

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10 Characters Who Should Be In It


Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty is the franchise’s biggest female character and the obvious pick to lead the all-female spinoff. Jordana Brewster’s Mia deserves a big role in the spinoff to expand on her character and showcase her growth. Brie Larson’s Tess is needed in the spinoff to explore the mystery surrounding her character and add her engaging screen presence to the team.

The Fast & Furious saga is meant to continue with an all-female-led movie, and casting the returning characters presents exciting options. An all-female spinoff could be the perfect way to continue the Fast &Furious story, as it will be able to retain the elements of the franchise that make it iconic while offering a new perspective. From the beginning, the franchise has been very male-dominated, and told male-centric stories, so offering the high-octane thrills of a Fast & Furious movie from a female perspective could be a welcome change of pace.

The series is known for having an all-star cast, so any female spinoff will have to match the previous films. Thankfully, the franchise already has several incredible female movie stars. Fast X, the latest film in the franchise, introduced and reintroduced some exciting female characters, setting the groundwork for the upcoming Fast & Furious movie. Obviously, whatever happens in the next film will determine who will be on the team and what side they will fight for. The franchise already has a healthy supply of female characters, both good and evil, who can factor into a Fast & Furious female spinoff.


Related Fast X Proves How Great A Fast & Furious Female Spinoff Would Be The idea of an all-female spinoff is more exciting than Fast & Furious 11, with Fast X providing the blueprint for just how well it could work.

10 Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty Can Lead The Fast Spinoff Ensemble
She’s the franchise’s biggest female character

Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty has been a key member of the Fast family since the first movie, and no female spinoff would feel right without her leading the team. Dominic Toretto’s wife is one of the fastest drivers in the world. Letty has made her way from street racer to international woman of mystery, becoming one of the franchise’s best characters in the process. Rodriguez is an incredibly engaging screen presence thanks to her charisma and action pedigree. An all-female action movie is right in her wheelhouse, making her the obvious pick for the lead in the movie.

9 Jordana Brewster’s Mia Deserves A Big Role
The Toretto family member has been sidelined recently

Another extension of the Toretto family tree, Jordana Brewster’s Mia is Dom’s brother and the wife of Paul Walker’s Brian. Since Walker’s tragic death, as well as the introduction of countless new characters, Mia has been sidelined in recent films, which is a shame because she is one of the best parts of the earlier films. A spinoff with just the women could be a great time to expand on Mia’s character and see how she has grown over the past couple of years, especially now that she is the mother of two. Brewster is an underrated talent, and Mia should be heavily involved in whatever spinoff the filmmakers plan.

8 Brie Larson’s Tess Is Needed After Fast X Introduction
Mr. Nobody’s daughter has a bright future
Brie Larson as Tess firing a gun in Fast X

Fast X introduced several new faces to the franchise, but perhaps most notably was Brie Larson as Tess “Nobody”, a secret agent on a quest to protect Dom and his family. Larson had relatively little screen time in the movie, and her introduction felt like it was mostly included to set up a future spinoff. The Oscar winner is the perfect name to include in a spinoff. Larson is an incredibly engaging and vulnerable screen presence and a great addition to the team. As her family name would imply, there is still a lot of mystery about Tess that this spinoff could explore.

7 Ramsey’s Return Can Give Nathalie Emmanuel A Major Role
The hacker has a growing set of skills
Nathalie Emmanuel in Fast and Furious 7.

After her first appearance in Furious 7, Nathalie Emmanuel’s Ramsey has been the Fast team’s resident hacker and tech wiz. The Game of Thrones star has mostly been used for exposition and comic relief since joining the team, but Ramsey has a distinctive style and skill set that would make her a great addition to the female spinoff. While Mia and Letty are great drivers, Ramsey has skills in the digital realm that could help the team on whatever mission they are on. It would also be interesting to see how Ramsey functions outside the trio of her, Tej, and Roman.

Cars and an image of Vin Diesel looking surprised in the Fast & Furious franchise Related Fast & Furious Showed How To Continue The Franchise After Vin Diesel 17 Years Ago (With A Catch) Fast & Furious finds itself at a crossroads with the end nearing, and Universal should look to the franchise’s most underrated movie for inspiration.

6 Daniela Melchior’s Return As Isabel Gives The Spinoff More Legacy
Isabel is the sister of Elena
Isabel (Daniela Melchior) in a car at a street race in Fast X

For a while, Elsa Pataky’s Elena was viewed as an obvious candidate to appear in a Fast & Furious female spinoff. However, after her untimely demise in The Fate of the Furious, her younger sister can fill that void. Another new female protagonist introduced in Fast X, Daniela Melchior’s Isabel also felt like she was included mostly to set up this future spinoff. Melchior is one of the more promising young actors to pop up this decade, and her work in The Suicide Squad proves she is more than ready to have a large part in a team-up action movie.

5 Gal Gadot’s Place In The Fast Spinoff As Gisele Is Likely
Fast X confirmed Gisele is still alive

Gal Gadot made her return to Fast and Furious in the final moments of Fast X’s ending, which confirmed that Gisele is alive after Fast & Furious 6. The character’s return had been speculated for a long time, and audiences should see much more of her now that her fate is confirmed. A Fast & Furious female spinoff can answer lingering questions about Gisele’s life, such as how she survived falling from a plane or what she’s been doing for the last several years. The movie can also finally give Gisele a prominent role in the franchise once again.

4 Charlize Theron’s Cipher Could Play Both Sides In The Spinoff
The franchise’s villain is not to be trusted

In both The Fate of the Furious and F9: The Fast Saga, Charlize Theron’s Cipher served as the franchise’s primary antagonist. While Fast X puts her allegiance into question, she is still one of the best villains in all of Fast and Furious and would make an excellent baddie for the all-women team to go up against. While Cipher could be a reluctant ally to the team, Theron is just much more fun hamming it up as the bad guy, and the film could serve as a fitting conclusion to her movie-spanning scheme.

3 Eva Mendes Can Return As Monica Fuentes At Long Last
She hasn’t been seen since Fast Five
Monica Fuentes pointing a rifle in 2 Fast 2 Furious.

The Fast & Furious female spinoff would also be a great opportunity to finally bring back Eva Mendes as Monica Fuentes. Following her debut in 2 Fast 2 Furious, she returned briefly in Fast Five’s post-credits scene. Eva Mendes has since mostly retired from acting, leaving audiences without a chance to see Monica’s story continue. A Fast X Easter egg did provide a reminder of her presence in the franchise. This could be to help set up her appearance in Fast 11, but a return alongside the franchise’s biggest female characters would be more fitting.

2 Vanessa Kirby’s Hattie Needs To Crossover With The Main Franchise
She’s from the franchise’s only current spinoff
Vanessa Kirby in Fast and Furious Presents Hobbs and Shaw

Only appearing in Hobbs & Shaw, Vanessa Kirby’s Hattie is the third sibling in the Shaw family and one of the most dangerous women in the Fast universe. She was a scene-stealing presence in the previous Fast & Furious spinoff movie that left audiences wanting more. It would be great to see Kirby return for an even bigger role in the franchise spinoff, allowing her to interact with some of the other prominent characters along the way.

1 Helen Mirren’s Queenie Should Be The Female Ensemble’s Mentor
She’s become a frequent face
Dom Toretto and Queenie Shaw in Fast and Furious

With her appearances in the past four movies, including Hobbs & Shaw, Helen Mirren has become a surprising mainstay of the Fast & Furious franchise. Her role as British gangster Queenie is such a fun role for the Dame, and her time in the universe should continue especially in the all-female spinoff. Mirren’s roles in the movies have mostly been one-scene cameos, so this film could be a great space to expand the character and give her a chance to interact with more actors than just Vin Diesel.

Fast X Poster Fast X Release Date: 2023-05-19 Director: Louis Leterrier Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Charlize Theron, Nathalie Emmanuel, John Cena, Sung Kang, Helen Mirren, Brie Larson, Scott Eastwood, Jason Momoa Rating: PG-13 Runtime: 141 Minutes Genres: Action, Adventure, Crime Writers: Justin Lin, Dan Mazeau, Gary Scott Thompson Budget: $340 Million Studio(s): Universal Pictures Distributor(s): Universal Pictures Sequel(s): Fast and Furious 11, Fast & Furious 12 prequel(s): Fast & Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, The Fast And The Furious, Fast 5, Fast and Furious 6, Furious 7, Fast and Furious 8, F9: The Fast Saga1 Franchise(s): Fast and Furious

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