Han, Solo: On Tokyo Drift
I did not expect my initial viewing of Tokyo Drift to provoke an internal moral debate, but life and cars sometimes zig when I expect a zag. To paraphrase an old Yiddish proverb: when we plan, God and Vin Diesel laugh.
The third entry in the Fast and Furious franchise is an odd film that seemingly exists outside the high octane world we’ve come to know and love, at least until our greatest living American, Sir Vincent of Dieselshire, appears in a cameo at the end. The best character is a new guy who doesn’t get enough screentime (Han Lue, played by Sung Kang). And strangely, star Paul Walker is not in the third movie, apparently because the studio felt he was too old and this was to be a movie about teens. But he was very much on my mind while I watched it, for a most peculiar reason.
This film begins in a high school-adjacent setting. I have done my best to avoid most spoilers about these movies, as well as any salacious or distracting information about the people who helped make them. But one element bears mention. In 2006, when the film was released, a 33-year-old Walker was allegedly also spending time in a high school-adjacent setting.
I don’t know quite how to parse this information, which readers have repeatedly sent me since I began my Fast-watching odyssey, so I will simply refer you to the 2018 Jalopnik article “When Are We Going to Address How Paul Walker Had Relationships With Underage Girls?” and let you decide for yourself.
One of the most persistent cultural queries of our era is this: how do we feel when an artist we admire does something we do not admire? For me, this question arises around issues of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, financial malfeasance, anti-vaccine hallucinations, and, of course, sexual (mis)conduct.
If you find the behavior of a cast or crew member disturbing to the point that you can no longer enjoy the films on which that individual worked, I get it. In the case of Walker, a talented actor who died tragically in 2013 and who has been praised for his charitable works and for his apparent devotion as a father, it feels particularly strange to look at this aspect of his life.
But at the same time, I don’t think it disrespects the dead to address widely…