(Photo by © Universal / Courtesy the Everett Collection)
Once known as the red-headed stepchild of the Fast and Furious franchise, a kind of strange pit stop that lacked the series’ main stars and failed to rev up the box office, Tokyo Drift has come to be seen in a much different light in the 15 years since its initial theatrical release. It has developed a cult following that argues it is a franchise high point; director Justin Lin has gone on to direct four more Fast installments; and it eventually became so influential that many of its main characters were brought back into the fold and the entire series’ timeline was shifted to accommodate them.
Of course, it also has the Han factor. Sung Kang’s charismatic turn as Han Lue, who first appeared in Lin’s indie hit Better Luck Tomorrow and acts as a mentor to Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) in Tokyo Drift, was so undeniably standout that many felt he should have been the film’s central character. No surprise then that despite his death in the movie, the Fast gods found ways to bring him back… and then accidentally antagonized the fan base when they turned the man responsible for his death into a hero, a decision that kicked off a #JusticeForHan online campaign and ensured that Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw would never be accepted by at last one corner of the Fast fanbase.
So, Tokyo Drift has, like some shoddily souped-up car that no one gave a chance, somehow raced to the front of the Fast pack in many fans’ hearts over the years and changed the trajectory of a multi-billion-dollar franchise. And calls for #JusticeForHan look to be answered with Kang’s return in the latest film, F9, releasing later this month. But is The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift actually… good? Does it deserve its swelling cult status?
That’s what we’re asking in the latest episode of our podcast, Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong (A Podcast from Rotten Tomatoes) in which co-hosts Jacqueline Coley and Mark Ellis are joined by Los Angeles Times film reporter Jen Yamato, a diehard Tokyo Drift fan who amplified the #JusticeForHan cause and has written about it in the pages of her paper. Yamato is also co-host of the acclaimed Asian Enough podcast, which has featured guests like Vice President Kamala Harris, filmmaker Lulu Wang, and, of course, Sung Kang.
Check in every Thursday for a new episode of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong (A Podcast From Rotten Tomatoes). Each week, hosts Jacqueline and Mark and guests go deep and settle the score on some of the most beloved – and despised – movies and TV shows ever made, directly taking on the statement we hear from so many fans: “Rotten Tomatoes is wrong.”
Check out some more episodes of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong:
If you have a suggestion for a movie or show you think we should do an episode on, let us know in the comments, or email us at email@example.com.
Meet the hosts
Jacqueline Coley is an editor at Rotten Tomatoes, with a focus on awards and indie coverage but with a passion for everything, from the MCU to musicals and period pieces. Coley is a regular moderator at conventions and other events, can be seen on Access Hollywood and other shows, and will not stand Constantine slander of any kind. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter: @THATjacqueline.
Mark Ellis is a comedian and contributing editor for Rotten Tomatoes. He currently hosts the Rotten Tomatoes series Versus, among others, and can be seen co-hosting the sports entertainment phenomenon Movie Trivia Schmoedown. His favorite Star Wars movie is Jedi (guess which one!), his favorite person is actually a dog (his beloved stepdaughter Mollie), and – thanks to this podcast – he’s about to watch Burlesque for the first time in his life. Follow Mark on Twitter: @markellislive.