The Fast & Furious franchise is known for death-defying stunts, but perhaps the most dangerous one occurred in the least memorable entry in the series.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is set in Japan and follows an American street racer named Sean Boswell (Lucas Black), who’s ordered to live with his father in the country to avoid serious jail time after an incident in the U.S. It’s far from the franchise’s best outing, but it does have its moments.
Shooting a movie in any major city requires a lot of work including logistics and scouting locations, but before doing any of that, a production must acquire permits from a particular city giving them permission to shoot in certain areas. Japan is an especially hard city to get permits for, but director Justin Lin was adamant that they film in Shibuya, one of the most crowded locations in the country.
The sequence, which you may remember more from the end of Fast & Furious 6 and not Tokyo Drift, features Han (Sung Kang) drifting through a busy intersection before his car is blown up by Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). We thought he died, but the trailer for F9 revealed that he’s alive and well.
Lin had a feeling Japan was going to say no about the location but he went ahead and shot there anyways, without permission. With Universal Pictures onboard, they sent someone to act as a fall guy just in case. And their pragmatism paid off. The crew left after local law enforcement came in and one person stayed behind and spent a night in jail. Police were looking to arrest Lin, but the fall guy said he was the director and fulfilled his new job title.
As ScreenRant explains:
The studio was well aware of the difficulty in acquiring film permits in Japan; in fact, most movies set in the city are shot at other locations and reproduced to look like Tokyo. Ever since the James Bond 1967 film, You Only Live Twice, laws and regulations have become more strict. The process is expensive and frustrating, so Tokyo-set movies are rarely authentic. Some directors went to great lengths to shoot on-location, like the case with Sofia Coppola negotiating heavily to film 2003’s Lost in Translation. Lin, however, was still a newcomer at the time, so he took the risk. Universal then hired a “fall guy” who remained on set if trouble arose. Shortly after shooting in Shibuya, the crew was kicked out of the area by law enforcement. When the police attempted to arrest the director, the fall guy claimed that he was Lin and spent a night in jail.
Lin and company were able to get some footage at Shibuya, but most of the scene was created through visual effects. Of course, the director would go on to helm the next three entries in the Fast & Furious series and he’s back for F9 and 10, too. As for that fall guy, I sure hope he got a promotion afterwards.