The Fast & Furious franchise doesn’t engage in too much narrative trickery. The plots are straightforward – and by straightforward, I mean there are cars and people who drive those cars and those people use their cars to fight other people in cars. Carfight! But there’s a surprisingly complicated aspect of the films’ chronology, and that aspect is the character Han, played by actor Sung Kang.
Han was introduced in the third film, Tokyo Drift, as a wise mentor figure for that film’s lead; Han also died in Tokyo Drift. But that film’s final scene made it clear that Han had, once upon a time, run with Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto. Weirdly, the three films that followed Tokyo Drift all wound up exploring that “once upon a time” period. In the fourth film, Fast & Furious, Han was alive again – although he mentioned that he was planning to move to Tokyo. He was back in Fast Five, romancing Gal Gadot’s Gisele; at the end of the film, they joked about moving to Tokyo, although all Han said was that they’d get there “Eventually.” (To further complicate matters, Han was actually originally introduced in Better Luck Tomorrow, the debut film by Justin Lin; Lin imported the character into Tokyo Drift.) SPOILERS BELOW.
Well, alas, “eventually” has finally arrived. In Fast & Furious 6, Gisele sacrificed herself by flying backwards off a moving car while shooting a bad guy. (Then she faded away into the darkness, like some kind of dying ninja Jedi Valkyrie, with guns.) In turn, a grieving Han decided to finally move to Tokyo … and, in a post-credits scene, we once again saw his death scene from Tokyo Drift, although this time it became clear that he was actually killed by none other than Jason Freaking Statham. (More on that over here.)
Actor Sung Kang enjoyed the chance to circle back around to Han’s final moments. “It was refreshing, to have this final send-off for Han, and show why Han is the way he is when he’s in Tokyo. Having that relationship with Gisele, it really explains why his soul is so old in Tokyo Drift.”
Kang feels that the events of Fast & Furious 6 help to clarify why Han becomes a mentor figure in Tokyo Drift. “After Gisele’s death, Han is finally wise. I recently learned the definition of wisdom is education that one is able to teach others. He’s able to teach the meaning of family to the Shawn Boswell character [in Tokyo Drift].”
Kang is proud to have gotten the opportunity to play Han for over a decade. “The franchise has basically given me a career. Pre-Tokyo Drift, I was like: ‘Am I gonna play Yakuza #1 and Chinese Waiter #2 for the rest of my life? Is America even ready for an Asian face that speaks English, that doesn’t do Kung Fu?’”
I pointed out that the movie never actually shows Han and Gisele’s dead bodies – which, given the franchise’s history with resurrecting dead characters, could indicate a return trip. Kang laughs. “I appreciate that,” he says, “But I hope we don’t get to that point. I feel like it’s a proper send-off, don’t you? It’s time to close the book.”
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