Fast And Furious 9: What To Remember About Han Lue, Sung Kang's Tokyo Drift Character

Han in Tokyo Drift

Han Lue walks in on Dom and crew

The internet seemingly came to a screeching halt in the early afternoon hours of January 31, when the highly anticipated Fast And Furious 9 trailer was finally unveiled. The four-minute F9 trailer was filled to the brim with the expected, yet unbelievable, stunts and debuts (hello, evil John Cena), but the millions of people who watched the preview couldn’t believe their eyes when Han Lue (portrayed by Sung Kang) walked into the gang’s hidden base as if we hadn’t already seen him die in The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift.

The trailer ends with the line “Justice Is Coming,” which we can only assume is a reference to the “Justice For Han” campaign that the film’s director and millions of adoring fans have been carrying out ever since it was revealed who was actually behind Han’s “death” 14 years ago (real time, not the Fast And Furious time). But while plenty of us are more than familiar with the ins and outs of Han’s death, there might be some out there who either aren’t familiar with the character’s arc.

For the uninitiated, or those who got lost in the not-so-easy-to-follow timeline of the Fast And Furious movies, let’s take a look back at some of Han’s most memorable moments.

Han in Tokyo Drift

Introduction In Tokyo Drift

It is crazy to think about it, but the Fast And Furious franchise is nearly 20 years old at this point, and Han has been a part of it since the 2006 release of Tokyo Drift. We first meet Han when allows the film’s protagonist, Sean Boswell (portrayed by Lucas Black), to drive his car in a drift competition early on in the film. When the race against “Drift King” Takashi results in a loss for Sean and a nearly totaled car for Han, the latter forces the former to pay off his debt, but also teaches him a few things along the way.

Throughout the course of the film, Han and Sean develop a strong bond, but as that friendship blossoms, Han’s ties to Takashi and his old gang become strained when Takashi’s uncle learns that Han has been stealing money from him. As Han attempts to escape Takashi and other members of the gang, his car is t-boned by a mysterious car. Han’s car rolls upside down leaving him unable to escape before it is destroyed in an explosion.

The film ends with Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto coming to Tokyo to bring Han’s body back to the United States for a proper burial. This, however, wouldn’t be the end of the Han’s story in the Fast And Furious franchise.

Han before his fateful wreck

The Timeline Gets Retconned

Try to imagine how confused fans were just three years after Tokyo Drift, when Han showed up in the short film Los Bandoleros. When we first see Han again, he’s meeting up with Dom, who we last saw going to Tokyo to retrieve his friend’s body. What’s going on here?

There’s a simple, yet not-so-simple explanation for this: the events of Tokyo Drift take place in the years following most of the rest of the Fast And Furious saga. This is what we like to call a good, old-fashioned “retcon.”

Starting with Fast And Furious (2009), we start to see more and more of Han. He’s first brought into the main series as a member of Dom’s team in the early goings of the 2009 soft reboot, but goes to Tokyo when a job goes bad. We pick back up with Han in Fast Five when he becomes a full-time member of Dom and Brian O’Conner’s gang on the run.

This is where Han first meets Gisele Yashar, played by a young and relatively unknown Gal Gadot, who was introduced as a minor character in the previous entry in the series. Han and Gisele are last seen traveling through Europe after receiving their cut of the money from the unforgettable bank heist earlier in the movie. The love affair, however, would be short-lived, as Gisele sacrifices herself in order to save Han from one of the villainous Owen Shaw’s henchmen.

At the conclusion of the film, a distraught and heartbroken Han tells the crew that he is heading back to Tokyo. And that’s how we find ourselves back at the moment of Han’s “death” first shown way back in Tokyo Drift.

Han Lue waits to hear about the score

Who’s Behind Han’s Death?

In Furious 7, we finally discover who was responsible for Han’s death as well as the person’s motive for such a vicious act. After Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) is defeated by Dom and crew, his brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) makes it his mission in life to make the heroes pay for hurting his family. One of Shaw’s first victims is Han, who he locates in Tokyo.

We cut back to that familiar scene from Toyko Drift where Han meets his demise, only this time we see who’s behind of the wheel of the car that t-bones Han as he makes his escape. None other than Deckard Shaw. We then go through the whole “Dom goes to Tokyo to retrieve Han’s body” scene once again.

Throughout the course of Furious 7, Dom and crew get back at Deckard Shaw and his criminal organization as they avenge Han. And with that brings the conclusion of Han’s story. Or at least that what we thought until the afternoon of Friday, January 31, 2020.

Han preparing for a street race

Wait, Wasn’t Han Dead?

It’s safe to say that everyone who sought out the Fast And Furious 9 trailer was more than a little keyed up once they saw what was revealed. There was action, evil John Cena, Helen Mirren, and that whole scene where Dom drives his car off a cliff, latches onto a rope, and swings like Tarzan in a car, but nothing compared to the final 10 seconds where a ghost walked onto the screen. That ghost, Han, was supposed to be dead. We saw him die in that fiery crash countless times. They had a funeral. They said their goodbyes. He is dead, right?

We were all wrong, and I have never been more stoked to be so wrong. What else were we wrong about with the Fast And Furious franchise? We'll have to wait and see when Fast & Furious 9 is released in theaters on May 22.

Philip Sledge
Content Producer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.