Before you read any of this, beware massive spoilers. Again, MASSIVE SPOILERS.
One more time, MASSIVE SPOILERS.
I’m all about blackout mode when it comes to films I really look forward to seeing. This makes it even more difficult helping maintain TMB, even with trailers and how they reveal so much. Because for all of us we have to be selective but encompass everything we can. Before I get into the spoiler, which I read because talking to The ‘Superior’ Anthony his slight tease about the ‘black sheep of the franchise’ got me too damn excited. So I had to know. Simply put we’re talking about Tokyo Drift.
A key component to this franchise I feel has been bringing back all the relevant characters, our favorites and also director, Justin Lin. Where this franchise was once a ‘guilty pleasure’ I feel as though it’s actually just become a pleasure to watch. The opportunity hasn’t been squandered in the slightest and because of that, we’re where we are today with the franchise. Fast & Furious 6 hits theatres in May and at this point it’s not soon enough. Before getting into the spoiler, Fast & Furious (the fourth film) brought Dom and Brian back together. It was what was missing in 2 Fast 2 Furious (second film) and oddly enough we got a cameo from Dom in Tokyo Drift (the third film), which left fans wondering where the franchise would go from there. In reality we simply saw it as a passing of the torch, as Lucas Black was now the new DK (aka Drift King). And with that it was the end.
Until three years later, Fast & Furious came back, somehow tying the stories together as best it could, albeit retconning what was needed and it essentially was the very first movie, The Fast and the Furious – 8 years later. The movie ended up grossing roughly $370 million and sure enough, if it was a partial reboot it was a definite success at the box office. One key thing to note is the character of Han Seoul-Oh played by Sung Kang. Han has become a fan favorite and in actuality Sung Kang has been not only a recurring character in the Fast & Furious franchise, but in Justin Lin’s movies as well. Han’s original character is actually from Justin Lin’s 2002 movie, Better Luck Tomorrow. So if you were ever curious about how he started off as a youth, watch that movie. And for the record, it’s a pretty decent film.
Why all the words so far? It’s simply to explain once again the black sheep of the franchise, Tokyo Drift. Which introduced Han into the franchise and introduced a new youthful cast of characters with Lucas Black, Nathalie Kelley, Brian Tee and Bow Wow just to name a few. The point is – Han dies in this movie. In a car explosion, much like supposedly Letty dies in the fourth film, which eventually spurs the reason Dom and Brian get back together. So it’s always confused people where Tokyo Drift stands in relation to the chronological order. If you didn’t know already all the movies since the fourth film have been prequels to Tokyo Drift. Simply so Han could still be alive. In the fourth film he exits stage left with “I hear they’re doing some crazy shit in Tokyo.” And then we assume he goes off and dies. In Fast Five he returns however, fans rejoice and in his epilogue sequence with Gal Gadot’s character, Gisele Yashar. This time he exits stage right while driving off in a LFA with Gisele on his lap talking about where to go next. Gisele says “I thought you wanted to go to Tokyo?” Han replies “We’ll get there… eventually.” So fans leave knowing there is yet to be another sequel and he’ll definitely be there, as he hasn’t died yet in Tokyo Drift since that movie takes place in the future.
Which now brings us to Fast & Furious 6 and the black sheep, Tokyo Drift.
As we already know, Fast Five made a buttload of money, in the tune of roughly $630 million, a far cry from the first movie which made $207 million. Talks began during filming of a way to end the franchise and tie it altogether. There was uncertainty that Fast Five would do well enough in the theatres to warrant a sequel, despite Vin Diesel and Justin Lin in talks how to end it all. A sequel was so in the question that Lin actually ended up filming/story boarding the ending to Fast & Furious 6 before Fast Five ended. Because if somehow he wasn’t given the opportunity to continue the franchise, he wanted to make sure he left something with the franchise as his say on where it should go next. Or as the marketing for the new film says “All roads lead to this.” However, when Fast Five did as well as it did it was a no brainer. So pen was put to paper so well that a draft of over 110 pages was put together and the intent then was to create two sequels and film them back to back. As Diesel himself put it in late December 2011, “We have to pay off this story, we have to service all of these character relationships, and when we started mapping all that out it just went beyond 110 pages… The studio said, ‘You can’t fit all that story in one damn movie!”
So much has been made about the franchise becoming more relevant turning from a movie about racing to a heist series. But really it’s simply been about the absolute care that those involved with the franchise, in respect to making it all work, making it all exciting and making it just fun.
So if you’re wondering what ‘all roads lead to’? It’s this. The after credits spoiler in Fast & Furious 6 (courtesy of AICN):
We then see a pair of hands on a steering wheel, with Japanese suddenly coming across a police scanner in the car. In addition, looking around the car, we see that the inside of this particular S-Class has been reinforced for some reason. The scanner puts out the call for all units to respond to a high-speed chase taking place between an orange and black Mazda RX-7 and a grey Nissan 350Z, and this suped-up Mercedes floors it, taking off from its parked position.
This mysterious driver monitors the chase from a parallel road before getting ahead of the pursuit. At this point, he heads down a street on his left at an incredibly high rate of speed. Upon seeing the RX-7 approaching the coming intersection, the driver floors it, timing his entry into the intersection to slam right into the side of the Mazda, sending it rolling over upside-down, as the S-Class appears only minimally damaged.
This mystery driver then steps out of the vehicle, and it is now that we finally learn who is behind the wheel…JASON STATHAM!!
In one fuel-injected second we see that Statham is Owen Shaw’s older brother, Ian, and that the unfortunate dead guy in the car is Han (Sung Kang). We are now right back in the middle of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
Han’s car explodes and Stath’s Shaw then picks up the phone and calls Dom, warning him he’s about to get revenge for what he did to his younger brother. Cue the beginning of The Fast and the Furious 7.
So with one fell swoop, Tokyo Drift, the movie everyone tries to ignore, the actual real guilty pleasure within the Fast & Furious franchise itself gets canonized, as the sixth movie chronologically and if you think about it, it’s pretty impressive. This also adds to the rumor of how Jason Statham was originally to be in the talks to join the cast of the franchise during Fast Five when Dwayne Johnson did. And eventually how that didn’t work and we simply know why now. It’s easy to assume the result of the Fast & Furious 6 without even watching it. The trailer shows us enough of the action sequences to piece things together, all that is left is how the hell Letty actually survived, what happens during the actual movie and how Han actually exits centre stage before saying “Ok guys, I’m finally going to Tokyo.” Then he goes off and dies.
I’m already looking forward to Fast & Furious 6, but this has me excited more so for the seventh and obviously final movie. I do hope that Han stays dead as much as I am a fan of his character. I thoroughly enjoyed Tokyo Drift because of all the tuner cars and drift fanaticism. I can only hope Lucas Black and his whole new crew join forces (hell get Bow Wow back), which I’m assuming is going to happen. As this will be the actual true passing of the torch before Dom and Brian drive off into the sunset.