“Fate of the Furious” is officially the eighth “Fast & Furious” movie — but there’s probably at least one film in the canon that many fans have never seen before.
That would be “Los Bandoleros.” The 20-minute short film was written and directed by franchise star and producer Vin Diesel, and it adds a bit of key context to the series by introducing characters and bridging the gap between the events of “The Fast and the Furious” and “Fast & Furious,” the fourth movie in the franchise.
Before “Fast & Furious,” the franchise continuity was kind of a mess. Diesel exited the series before the second movie, “2 Fast 2 Furious,” which starred Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. The third movie, “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” includes new characters altogether, but director Justin Lin managed to convince Diesel to come back to the franchise with a cameo at the end of the film.
So when Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster and Walker came back to the franchise in the fourth movie, it was the first time the series continued the first film’s story. “Los Bandoleros” bridges some of the gap. It finds Dom Toretto (Diesel) in the Dominican Republic, where he meets up with characters who would go on to return in later movies, including Han (Sung Kang), Tego (Tego Calderon) and Santos (Don Omar). “Los Bandoleros” fills in backstory about how Dom knows those guys, who then show up in his crew at the start of “Fast & Furious.”
The short gives some context to the opening sequence of “Fast & Furious,” when Dom and his crew hijack a gasoline tanker truck. It reframes the job as a Robin Hood-esque caper, in which Dom and his buds steal the gas to give to people they know who desperately need the fuel.
“Los Bandoleros” also spends a lot of its time focused on Dom and Letty (Rodriguez), who were separated when Dom fled the cops at the end of the first movie. Presumably, they’ve been apart for a while, but Letty tracks Dom down eventually. They rekindle their romance, which goes on to be a central pillar of the franchise, all the way through “Fate of the Furious.”
Universal included “Los Bandoleros” with the DVD release of “Fast & Furious,” and you can also watch it here.
“Los Bandoleros” isn’t the only “Fast & Furious” movie that’s not actually part of the main film canon. There are actually two others bits that fill in story from the franchise.
When director Justin Lin entered the franchise with “Tokyo Drift,” he brought with him Kang’s character Han, who would become a fan favorite. Han also appears in another film: Lin’s first movie, a 2002 drama called “Better Luck Tomorrow.” It follows several over-achieving Asian-American high schoolers, who use their good grades and spotless records to deflect suspicion as they get into stealing and dealing drugs.
While “Better Luck Tomorrow” isn’t officially in the “Fast & Furious” canon, Kang and Lin both consider Han from that movie to be the same Han who appears in “Tokyo Drift,” “Fast Five” and “Fast & Furious 6.” That makes it, more or less, Han’s origin story.
The final addition to the story is a 2003 web short called “2 Fast 2 Furious Turbo Charged Prelude.” Included with the “2 Fast 2 Furious” DVD release, the short clocks in at about six minutes and gives a little explanation about how Walker’s Brian wound up in Miami in the second film. It’s also available online.