Justice For Han movement brings Sung Kang back to Fast And Furious 9
Actor Sung Kang felt honoured that his character struck a chord with so many
When Korean-American actor Sung Kang left the Fast And Furious action franchise in 2013 after his character Han Lue was killed off in Fast And Furious 6, he was "happy" and experienced "closure".
He first appeared in the third movie The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) and reprised his role in the fourth, fifth and sixth movies, which acted as prequels.
They were all helmed by Taiwanese-American director Justin Lin, who handed the reins of the seventh and eighth films over to James Wan and F. Gary Gray respectively.
Han was the only Asian in the core crew led by Vin Diesel and Paul Walker and was seemingly murdered by villain Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) in Tokyo Drift. But as Shaw was later refashioned into a hero who became part of the Fast And Furious family and got his own spin-off film, outraged fans started the Justice For Han movement.
The social media outcry had a big part in bringing Sung and Lin - they had previously worked together on the 2002 crime drama Better Luck Tomorrow - back for the latest sequel Fast And Furious 9, which opens in cinemas here on June 24.
Speaking to The New Paper in a joint Zoom round-table interview with Lin from Los Angeles, Sung said: "It was a journey with your friend that you started and ended together.
"Getting that phone call (to return) was very humbling. It was a special moment, almost a part of the Hollywood dream. I felt honoured that there were people who missed and loved the character I played and wanted and demanded to see him again.
"And the thought of getting to hang out and do cool stuff on a movie set with your old friends whom you have not seen in years, I felt very blessed. It was like a gift."
Lin, 49, who will continue to direct the final two movies of the franchise, said: "When the fans explained (Justice For Han) to me, I was kind of baffled but also a little upset, because that was not the right way to treat one of our most beloved characters.
"I felt lucky to be the person to give him a second life."
Sung's comeback may have been the top secret of Fast And Furious 9, but even Lin admitted he was "surprised nobody caught on" during the shoot.
Sung joked: "(Film studio) Universal did a great job of hiding me during the production. When there were birthday parties and birthday cakes happening on set, I was never invited, because there were photos being taken and they had to keep me secret.
"It was good because my hair was short during that time, and people associate Han with the long hair, so it was easy to sneak around London. They also put me in a college area with a bunch of medical students, so they were too busy studying (to notice me)."
For Sung, who is also 49, the biggest challenges were on a "physical level".
He said with a chuckle: "When you get older, it is harder to do the action sequences and get up five times in a row.
"It becomes a challenge to get through each movie without doing a bunch of 'Ow, my back!' But that is why we have the best stunt doubles to make us look great."
When asked if Han's deceased on-screen girlfriend Gisele (played by Gal Gadot) will also reappear in a future instalment, he said: "If fans want her back, then anything is possible."
He added jokingly: "You can just say she was on a break saving the world as another character for a while, right?
"Gal is part of the family, her energy is amazing, everybody loves her. The camera does not lie - when she smiles, she lights up the room. She is Wonder Woman in real life too, so of course we would all love to have her back."