Warning: This article contains spoilers for “F9.” Drift on ahead at your own risk, or read our preview and review here.
As the credits roll on Universal’s “F9,” a stinger nodding to the “Justice for Han” outcry sets up what could be the biggest face-off in the upcoming “Fast 10″ — and one of the most heated showdowns in “Fast and Furious” history thus far.
In the scene, Jason Statham’s former rogue MI6 agent Deckard Shaw, last seen in the 2019 spinoff “Hobbs & Shaw,” is working his issues out on a punching bag somewhere in an undisclosed secured facility.
Inside the bag is an informant, who swiftly offers up a flash drive full of intel. Shaw doesn’t need it. He’s pummeling just for fun.
Then a ghost from his past appears at the door: Sung Kang‘s Han, whom Shaw ostensibly blew up in a fiery Tokyo crash in “Fast & Furious 6.” (An act so heinous, so anti-“family,” so rude, it was depicted again for good measure in “Furious 7.”)
Loaded glares ensue. The scene cuts to black — to be continued in “Fast 10,” perhaps?
The big “F9” twist bringing Kang’s Han back from the dead serves several purposes, but to understand why, you might need to revisit a little “Fast” history.
Brothers gotta hug: Han (Sung Kang, left) and Dom (Vin Diesel) reunite in “F9.”
(Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures)
First introduced in the third film, “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” Han Lue, a.k.a. Han Seoul-Oh, swiftly became a fan favorite so popular he returned in the next three (prequel) films, despite having technically died at the end of “Tokyo Drift.”
In a “Fast & Furious 6″ post-credits scene, it was revealed that the Mercedes that fatally crashed into Han’s Mazda RX-7 was actually driven by … Statham’s Deckard Shaw, setting the stage for Shaw to become the main villain of the seventh film.
But after trying to kill Dominic Toretto and the rest of his friends in “Furious 7” — disproportionate and misguided revenge for them having merely put his brother Owen in the hospital — Shaw was redeemed in the eighth film, 2017’s “Fate of the Furious.” In addition to being welcomed to the family BBQ, he was given his own hero spinoff film, opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as special agent Luke Hobbs.
Han fans wondered how the loyal Toretto “family” could possibly embrace his killer as one of their own. The move betrayed the core values of the “Fast” franchise, while “Hobbs & Shaw” seemed to prioritize the commercial viability of white heroism over the life of an otherwise beloved non-white character.
“Justice for Han” was born.
And in “F9,” directed by Justin Lin and written by Lin and Daniel Casey, that justice is delivered as Han reveals that he used Shaw’s attack as cover to fake his own death and go undercover for Mr. Nobody, while still mourning the loss of his love, Gisele.
Which means that technically speaking, the filmmakers have found a way to absolve Shaw of the moral weight of killing Han. Even if he definitely, for sure, on purpose, meant to murder him and only did not murder him by virtue of a secret extraction.
Either way, Han and Shaw have a lot of catching up to do.
It’s telling that “F9″ — which introduces Dom and Mia’s long-lost brother Jakob (John Cena) as its primary antagonist — does not end with a bad guy or gal casting an ominous shadow over the celebratory Corona-clinking. There’s no mystery figure coming out of the woodwork to foreshadow the next chapter, no new threat to tease, although Charlize Theron’s Cipher is still out there, status unknown. Mostly, the stinger reminds us, there’s this matter of outstanding family business to clean up.
Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw, right, in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” directed by David Leitch.
True justice, Lin teases, is what will come next for Han as the franchise heads into its final chapters.
Thanks to the ever-evolving nature of how “Fast” lore is written, Statham has for years had the unenviable task of answering to fans for Shaw’s actions. “Well, look. All we saw was a snapshot of something. We don’t know exactly what happened. We don’t know the full story!” Statham told The Times in 2019.
“F9″ lightens his load and opens the door for the main films to merge again with the “Hobbs & Shaw” spinoff branch, which could bring Hobbs, the shadowy Eteon organization and its yet-to-be-identified leader along with it.
Lin, who had introduced Han and Kang to the universe in his first “Fast” film as director, took the challenge of correcting the course personally. On the set of “F9″ he sported a “Justice for Han” shirt, wearing his intentions on his sleeve.
And when Han did make his return to the franchise, revealed in a surprise appearance in the first “F9″ trailer, the moment was an emotional one for Kang. Fans had showed him what Han meant to them. The irony, he notes with a laugh, is that few remember that he and Statham actually go way back.
Many years ago they had costarred together in the Jet Li action flick “War” — as FBI agents on the same team. (That’s Kang’s character covering Statham from a sniper post in the film’s big climax; “2 Fast 2 Furious” cast member Devon Aoki also stars.)
After filming wrapped in 2006, the two actors found themselves at the airport heading out. Statham asked what Kang had lined up next. Kang had a new movie opening soon — “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.”
“And he goes, ‘Fast and Furious? That’s a good one to be a part of! Have fun with that,” Kang said. “Then fast forward: He kills me. And, you know, there‘s some explaining to be done… I would love to explore that with him.”
Source by www.latimes.com