Sung Kang is the real star of the franchise.
Sung Kang as Han Seoul-Oh in Fast Five.
Jaimie Trueblood / Universal Studios
There are many, many things to love about Furious 7, the latest, biggest, and most outrageous installment of the Fast and Furious franchise. For instance: There is automotive skydiving, a combination of words that’s delightful to just say, let alone watch on screen. Vin Diesel and Jason Statham have a duel with goddamn wrenches and tire irons, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson breaks out his signature finishing move from his wrestling days, and a car gets jumped between skyscrapers — twice!
But there’s one thing that Furious 7 is sorely lacking, and that’s the presence of the franchise’s greatest character — not Dominic Toretto, despite all of Vin Diesel’s gravelly gravitas, and not Brian O’Conner, though the movie makes for a touching send-off for the late Paul Walker. I’m talking about Han Seoul-Oh, played by Sung Kang.
Han is the tragic hero and the embodiment of laconic cool in a series that’s all about being over-the-top, the stealth Asian lead that Justin Lin inserted into the series when he took over directing in the franchise’s third installment — The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift — forever shifting its balance from one about white guys who are friends with characters of color to one about characters of color and the white guys who hang out with them.
Han saunters into the series as the guy who casually tosses the keys to his beautiful car to an arrogant American stranger and says, “What? I wanna see
what the kid’s got.” And when that kid wrecks that car, spectacularly and humiliatingly, he takes him in and teaches him how to drift, not because his character only exists to pass along knowledge (“There’s no ‘wax on, wax off’ with drifting,” he says) but because he wants to needle DK (Brian Tee), the teenager playing gangster who he needs for business but can’t stand. He’s playing a deeper game than the dim-bulb protagonist ever really understands.
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