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Sung Kang Is Directing a Live Action Initial D Movie

With his past filmography and love of cars, Kang could be the one to make this project a success.
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

From his iconic role as Han in the Fast & Furious franchise to his recent foray into the director’s chair, Sung Kang has made a name for himself among car enthusiasts and movie lovers alike. The latest buzz is that Kang is set to direct a brand new adaptation of the legendary Japanese manga and anime series, Initial D.

Speaking to the South China Morning Post last month, Kang explained that his transition from acting into the director’s chair came from his lack of fulfillment with his film roles over the years. Shaky Shivers, his directorial debut, has just hit cinemas, and now he’s preparing to get stuck into a live-action film based on Initial D.

Details on the film are limited at this stage, but Kang provided a peek behind the curtain in his comments. “It’s about cars and drifting and cool things like that,” said Kang, adding “Almost a Rocky or Karate Kid. A fun, big-budget movie that expresses my love affair for cars.”

The film also came up when Kang discussed it recently on his Car Stories podcast. As is befitting an Initial D film, Kang noted the existence of an Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 hero car, to be built by Japanese tuning house RWB. On the show, Matt Farah offered to supply his favorite bus fabric for the interior, which could be a hilarious detail if it makes it into the film.

It’s not the first time the popular manga has received a live-action adaptation. In 2005, Initial D hit the screens in Asian markets, directed by famous Chinese filmmaker Andrew Lau. The film made little impact outside the region, though it appeared at the 2005 Chicago International Film Festival and received a limited run at New York’s Imaginasian Theater later that year. The film combined racing action with traditional coming-of-age themes, with a storyline largely based on the manga. Jay Chou starred in the film as Takumi Fujiwara in his breakout role and later purchased one of the AE86s used in the film for himself.

Notably, the 2005 film was long slated to get a sequel, but it never came to pass. Lau was attached to the project, but later stated in 2020 that he would not be involved in a future film. Kang’s work is most likely to be unrelated, given that all the actors from the earlier effort have since aged out of their roles. The Drive has reached out to Kang for details, and will update this article if more information becomes available.

As someone who has watched the 2005 film over fourteen times, I can’t wait to see what Kang is able to deliver to the silver screen. The magic of Initial D is all about high-school drama that ultimately always has street racing at its core. If Kang can nail the formula, we’re all in for a treat when it eventually hits cinemas.

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