F9’s Sung Kang Talks Asian Character Stereotypes, Fan Reactions To Han

Sung Kang looking very serious as Han in F9

F9 takes the Fast Saga to new heights in many ways. It introduces a never-before-mentioned member of the Toretto family and sends part of the crew to space, but one of the most notable features of F9 is that #JusticforHan is finally served. Sung Kang has spoken about breaking Asian character stereotypes with Han and what fan’s reactions to the character have been like.

With such a diverse cast, the Fast Saga is a franchise that has allowed various cultures to feel represented on screen since its inception. For the Asian American community, that representation has come from Han. Many fans were confused and dismayed by the treatment of Han in the series after his debut in Tokyo Drift, and thankfully he’s been given an excellent story in F9 that makes up for lost time. CinemaBlend spoke with Han actor Sung Kang about when he realized the impact of his character and he shared the following:

The internet is where you get kind of a window into how it’s affecting your community and other Asian American kids basically that were me growing up. When I was growing up, how many role models did we see that we could look up to that looked like us? There were Bruce Lee’s and Jackie Chan’s but I’m not from Asia, never martial arts-centric. My identity was very American, it was baseball and American movies. Because of the internet, I would get messages and fan letters from kids that looked like me when I was 12. It would be someone like you saying that ‘Because of Han, I get to be part of the crew.’ No longer is the Asian guy the one-dimensional guy that needs to know martial arts or he’s mystical, or you’re just some math nerd. It almost sounds so dated that stereotype, that’s the stereotype I grew up with. To get a message saying that finally we get to see someone that looks like us and that’s representing us in a cool way. And cool, what is the definition of that? It’s almost, it’s so superficial. But then, cool in that definition, is to be invited to be part of the crew, to be validated as you’re one of us. You’re one of the family. So, that’s when I knew man, that I think this character will have a huge impact.

It sounds like Han being an Asian character that did not follow a stereotypical expectation was just as meaningful to Sung Kang as it’s been to fans of the character and the series. When the Fast Saga first began with The Fast and the Furious, no one had any idea how massive it would become. Along the way the family has only grown, adding new multi-dimensional characters like Han and in turn growing the fan base along with the cast.

Sung Kang also questioned the definition of cool, and in the context of Han representing the Asian American community in a cool way, he defines cool as belonging. The Fast family is so diverse and ever-growing and is a perfect example of why representation matters. Inviting more into the crew where they feel they belong creates such a bond between fans and between the fans and the cast.

F9 is now available on Digital and speeding onto 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD September 21st from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The home release includes a Justice for Han featurette where Sung Kang and director Justin Lin discuss the genesis for the return of this beloved character, while the cast reveals what it means to them to have Han back along for the ride.

Samantha LaBat

Obsessed with Hamilton and most things Disney. Gets too attached to TV show characters. Loves a good thriller, but will only tolerate so much blood.