Han Lue has crossed genres and defied death to become one of the first and still few cool male Asian American film characters. First depicted in the fictional world of Taiwanese American director Justin Lin’s low-budget indie “Better Luck Tomorrow,” he has gone on to anchor a multi-billion-dollar tentpole franchise that has been one of the biggest, and perhaps arguably the best, Hollywood vehicles for Asian American representation.
Played by Sung Kang, Han first appeared in Lin’s groundbreaking 2002 Sundance hit “Better Luck Tomorrow,” a landmark film that centered nuanced and imperfect Asian American characters in a way no movie had really done before through its story of bored suburban high school over-achievers who slide into petty crime and chaotic delinquency.
Lin later transposed Sung’s character directly into “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.” Han became a fan favorite, reappearing in four more films in the series despite his apparent death at the end of his first.
Under Lin’s watch, the two-dimensional Asian villains, cliche Chinatown settings and Confucius statues of the early movies disappeared, replaced with lead roles with equal weight for AAPI characters like Han and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), as well as a rare interracial on-screen romance between Han and Gisele (Gal Gadot) that culminates in a high octane kiss.