When it comes to vehicular stunts, the Fast & Furious movies are notorious for playing fast and loose with the laws of gravity and other rules of physics. Remember the endless runway in Fast & Furious 6? Or the Lykan HyperSport crashing through two skyscrapers in Fast & Furious 7? Or the hot wheels-vs-submarine showdown in Fast & Furious 8?
In Fast & Furious 9, now showing in cinemas, there’s certainly no shortage of such ridiculous, cartoony set-pieces. This time, Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) car bandits-turned-(seriously, what have they’ve turned into — spies, mercenaries, or just complicated?) have to stop bête noire and Dom’s never-before-mentioned-till-now brother Jakob (John Cena) from starting a new world disorder. This requires the billion-dollar carmageddon saga to go down several roads, one of them leads to… space. Is it safe to say that Fast & Furious 9 is also a sci-fi movie? (Then again, Hobbs & Shaw did cross that line with Idris Elba’s bionic soldier.)
“I would say that we really try not to be labelled as a franchise,” says Fast & Furious 9 director Justin Lin, 49, in a Zoom interview with 8days.sg. “I don’t know how to describe it and part of what we do is that we come from a place — whether it’s me being Asian-American or this being a car movie — where we made a commitment to always try to redefine ourselves.” Er, in other words, Fast & Furious is whatever you want it to be?
When it came to the plausibility of the stunts, Lin — who joined the series with 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and subsequent three sequels — says, “[Whether] you can do it or not [for real], for me it’s fun — I get to explore the world when I make these movies, I get to explore the science, I get to talk [to the experts and discuss] how much we want to stretch it.”
Elsewhere, Lin says it was tough figuring out a way to bring fan-favourite Han (Sung Kang) back into the fold, after he was killed off by Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) in the end of Fast & Furious 6. Like many fans, Lin was baffled to see Shaw retconned from a villain to a good guy in 2017’s Fast & Furious 8, “something that doesn’t make sense,” he says. Something that sparked the #JusticeForHan campaign, demanding the filmmakers to redress the mistake.
On Han’s resurrection — don’t worry, we’ll spare you the details — Lin adds, “I did go through a lot of iterations of how we are going to really respect this idea of bringing him back but also to do it in a way that would lead to fun discussions with everybody’s who’s seen the film.”
Han’s return is a testament to the franchise’s fervent fanbase. “The fans speak for the characters, the film, our legacy within it,” says Kang, 49, who first played street-racer and avid snacker Han in Lin’s 2002 solo directorial debut Better Luck Tomorrow.
Like #ReleaseTheSnyderCut, #JusticeForHan was a ground-up movement. “It was sincere, it wasn’t from us, it wasn’t calculated by us,” says Kang who’s currently on the Stephen King’s Apple TV+ mini-series Lisey’s Story and in the midst of making Obi-wan Kenobi for Disney+.
“Justin, being smart, took what the fans wanted and put into Fast 9,” he continues. “It was a great journey to be a part of that.”
Watch our interview with Justin Lin and Sung Kang:
Fast & Furious 9 (PG13) is now in cinemas.
Photo: UIP; Video edited by Christopher Khong