Han. Easily one of the coolest characters of the Fast and the Furious franchise. Effortlessly cool. Cool as a cucumber. Most of us were introduced to Han as a mysterious figure of the Tokyo elite society of street racers in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift… But did you know, Han actually had his start in another film?
Better Luck Tomorrow is a 2002 indie film directed by Justin Lin, who is incidentally also the director of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Better Luck Tomorrow is centered on the character Ben Manibag, an Asian-American high school student who is tired of being seen as the overachieving model minority. He and three others begin a life of petty crime together, which quickly leads into a dangerous and dark direction. One of the members of this notorious group is – you guessed it – Han.
That’s right. It’s the same Han! In an article from Entertainment Weekly, Justin Lin and Sung Kang, the actor who portrays Han himself, confirmed that the Han of Better Luck Tomorrow is the same character in the Fast and the Furious franchise. In fact, Lin already had Kang and Han in mind as he began the Tokyo Drift project.
Han is almost always seen snacking in Fast & Furious (right) after he used to smoke like a chimney in Better Luck Tomorrow (left). As Gisele accurately surmised, it is an oral fixation developed from quitting.
There is a stark difference between the Han of Better Luck Tomorrow and the Han of F&F. The younger Han was materialistic and reckless, while the older Han is more grounded and has his priorities straight. Having seen all of the films, it is evident that Han’s coolness has also evolved into levelheadedness and it feels earned. As an Asian-American character, Han has broken barriers and stereotypes. He is a fan favorite within the Fast and the Furious fanbase and to witness the history and growth of his character adds a new depth to his legacy.
If you are interested in Han’s backstory, make sure to check out Better Luck Tomorrow. In doing so, you will also support a completely Asian-American led film – a (sadly) rare opportunity. You might also see another familiar face…
Yes, that is John Cho.
Check out the Better Luck Tomorrow trailer here!