The first trailer for the ninth “Fast & Furious” movie, dubbed “F9: The Fast Saga,” was full of big surprises. Yeah we’ve got those completely insane action sequences, but we’re here for the plot. And this trailer contained two major twists: that John Cena is, somehow, playing Dominic Toretto’s evil brother, and that Han (Sung Kang) actually did not die in that car crash in Tokyo. Those reveals are so big it can be easy to miss the brief shot of two major characters from “Tokyo Drift” making their returns to the franchise.
“F9” is big for “Fast” fans not just because it’s another crazy looking movie in this wonderful franchise — it also marks the return of director Justin Lin, who was behind the lens on the third, fourth, fifth and sixth movies, to the franchise. And it looks like “F9” is about halfway to being a full-on “Tokyo Drift” reunion with Lin bringing back at least three characters who originated in that film.
The first of the three is, of course, Han. But the “F9” trailer also gave us a brief glimpse of two other characters from “Tokyo Drift”: Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) and Earl (Jason Tobin). Sean, as you may recall, was the main character of that film, the country teen who got in one too many street racing accidents and had to be shipped to live with his father in Japan. Earl was not a major character, but he was a member of the #family of that movie, helping keep Sean and Neela’s cars in tiptop shape. You can see Sean and Earl’s brief trailer appearance in the header image on this post.
Aside from a brief cameo in “Furious 7,” Lucas Black has been totally absent from the franchise since his first appearance. Part of that is because of chronology shenanigans — “Tokyo Drift” actually takes place between “Fast & Furious 6” and “Furious 7,” despite being released most of a decade prior to those films. So by the time he popped up in the seventh film, Black was in his mid-30s playing an 18 year old. And Black does not have the face or hairline to pull that off convincingly. But hey, while they’re bringing people back from the dead, might as well go for it.
And, really, they couldn’t bring back Han and not have Sean show up. Han was Sean’s mentor in Tokyo back in the day, more of a father figure to him than his actual dad was. If you’re gonna bring back Han, you gotta also have him reunite with Sean.
It seems entirely possible that more “Tokyo Drift” alums will pop up in “Fast 9,” since Tokyo will be one of the major locations in the movie. There are three other main folks to watch out for: the aforementioned Neela (Nathalie Kelly), who was the female lead; Twinkie (Shad “Bow Wow” Moss), who was Sean’s instant BFF in Japan’ and Reiko (Keiko Kitagawa), who worked with Earl tuning engines. And maybe Sean’s dad (Brian Goodman) too. And now that we think about it, Japanese film legend Sonny Chiba, who played Yakuza boss Kamata, is still very much alive as well.
With the planned tenth movie expected, for now, to bring the series to a close, I can’t help but wonder if we’re gonna run through every major character who has ever shown up in one of these movies before the end. I hope they do — Universal should go full “Avengers: Endgame” here. Jakob and Cipher (Charlize Theron) should break Carter Verone (Cole Hauser) from “2 Fast 2 Furious” out of prison and do battle against the combined might of everybody who has ever been a part of the #family. Let’s do it.
“F9: The Fast Saga” hits theaters on May 22.