Fans believe The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift is the film that almost destroys the franchise.
The reality seems to be the opposite.
Tokyo Drift originally means to be the last Fast & Furious movie, it becomes the film that saves The Fast & The Furious Saga. The original The Fast & The Furious is a surprise hit, earning over $207 million worldwide from a budget of just $38 million. It’s lead actors, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker turns into big stars.
When the time comes to produce the third film in the series, Tokyo Drift, none of the original actors returns. So, the film is cast with newcomers Lucas Black, Bow Wow, and Sung Kang. The film didn’t review well and fails to top the box office. It makes just $158 million off a budget of $85 million. Universal Pictures thinks Fast & Furious is buzzing out and considers making a low-budget, direct-to-DVD sequel. It would effectively end the franchise. After Diesel’s cameo, the things change.
At the end of production of Tokyo Drift, Diesel approaches to replay his role as Dominic Toretto. He returns to the Fast & Furious franchise on the condition that he receives the rights to Riddick. Diesel’s cameo in Tokyo Drift is fondly remembered as the most unexpected moments in the movie. It is only after Universal sees the reaction to Diesel’s cameo that they agree to produce a full-fledged sequel with the original Fast & Furious cast.
As Tokyo Drift didn’t hear good reviews, Universal satisfies with director Justin Lin’s work on the movie. He would go on to direct the upcoming Fast & Furious 9 and Fast & Furious 10. Other original cast members like Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster return for the fourth film. It solidifies the franchise’s status as a box office blockbuster.
Tokyo Drift is seen as a cult classic since its core conflict is considerably lower than the blockbuster action sequences. Moreover, Sung Kang’s Han character immediately becomes one of the franchise’s breakout heroes. It leads to his surprise comeback in F9. Tokyo Drift is nonetheless an essential chapter in the grand The Fast & The Furious Saga.
Have things go differently?
Tokyo Drift would have been a great release in the Fast Saga, which dies an incognito death in a DVD bargain bin. Thanks to the behind-the-scenes machinations of Universal Pictures, the hard work of director Justin Lin, and Vin Diesel’s desire to continue his darling Riddick franchise. Tokyo Drift marks the end of the first era of Fast & Furious stories. It paved the way for this grand Saga to become one of the blockbuster franchises of all time.