Justin Lin

Justin Lin (traditional Chinese: 林詣彬; simplified Chinese: 林诣彬; pinyin: Lín Yìbīn, born October 11, 1971) is an American film director whose films have grossed US$2.3 billion worldwide as of March 2017.[1] He is best known for his directorial work on Better Luck Tomorrow (2002), the Fast & Furious franchise from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) to Fast & Furious 6 (2013) and F9 (2021), and Star Trek Beyond (2016). He is also known for his work on television programs like Community, and the second season of True Detective.

Justin Lin
Star Trek Beyond Japan Premiere Red Carpet- Justin Lin (32119565936).jpg
Lin at the Star Trek Beyond premiere in Japan
Born (1971-10-11) 11 October 1971 (age 48)
Taipei, Taiwan
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles

Early life and educationEdit

Justin Lin was born on October 11, 1971 in Taipei, Taiwan.[2] He grew up in Cypress, Orange County, California.[3] He attended Cypress High School, and then the University of California, San Diego for two years.[4][5] He then transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he earned a BA in Film and Television and a MFA in Film Directing and Production from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.[2]


Film workEdit

1997-2005: Better Luck Tomorrow, AnnapolisEdit

Justin Lin's first feature film was Shopping for Fangs (1997), which he co-directed with fellow UCLA Film School alumnus Quentin Lee when they were still at UCLA. The film stars John Cho and is considered to be a "cult classic" among independent Asian American films.[6][7]

Lin wrote and directed a documentary, Crossover (2000), which focused on the 70-year-old phenomenon of the Japanese American Basketball Leagues, which were established in the 1930s.[8]

Lin's solo directorial debut was Better Luck Tomorrow (2002), a film focusing on a circle of high-school-age Asian-Americans who become caught up in a cascading series of petty and then serious crimes.[9] The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival of that year, and in a question and answer session following a festival screening, Roger Ebert stood up and angrily responded to an audience member asking Lin if he thought it irresponsible to portray Asian-Americans in a negative light, saying, "[N]obody would say to a bunch of white filmmakers, 'How could you do this to your people?' ... Asian-American characters have the right to be whoever the hell they want to be. They do not have to 'represent' their people."[10]

Ebert's approval of the film drew the attention of major studios, eventually leading to MTV Films buying the film for distribution, MTV Films' first such acquisition.[11] Better Luck Tomorrow was also an official selection of the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival,[citation needed] was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at 2002 Sundance,[citation needed] and was a nominee for the John Cassavetes Award at the 2004 Independent Spirit Awards.[citation needed] Variety magazine named him one of the "Top 10 Directors to Watch" in 2002, citing the movie.[12]

Lin's second feature film—and first film to be produced and distributed by a large studio, Touchstone Pictures—was Annapolis (2006), which starred James Franco, Tyrese Gibson, Donnie Wahlberg and Jordana Brewster.[citation needed] The film cost US$26 million to make, but grossed only $17 million worldwide.[clarification needed][citation needed]

2006-2015: Fast & Furious franchise, minor projectsEdit

His third feature film, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, was released in North American cinemas on June 16, 2006.[citation needed] Despite mixed reviews, Tokyo Drift brought in over US$24 million on its opening weekend; the domestic box office would eventually total $62 million with a further $95 million accruing from the foreign box office, making total gross receipts $158 million.[clarification needed][citation needed] With Tokyo Drift, Lin would begin his run as director of the next three Fast & Furious films, leading the franchise until Furious 7.

Lin was initially approached to direct the film after the success of Better Luck Tomorrow at Sundance, and after wrapping his first studio film Annapolis, but wanted some "conditions" met, as the script presented him was about "cars drifting around Buddhist statues and geisha girls."[13][14] Instead, Lin wanted to make a film about Japan, which was "much more postmodern" as he mentioned, and intended to do a film on a more global scale that went against preconceived stereotypes.[14]

After Tokyo Drift, Lin directed a short film that also premiered at the Sundance Global Short Film Project, La Revolución de Iguodala! (2007), about one individual's message as that individual travels through time and becomes embodied in different races.[citation needed] He also went on to do an independent film, Finishing the Game (2007), a mockumentary on the events surrounding the production of Bruce Lee's final film, Game of Death.[15][16] It premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, and was also selected as the opening night film at a variety of North American film festivals,[citation needed][17] for instance at the 25th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.[18]

Lin returned to direct Fast & Furious, the fourth in the film series, which opened on April 3, 2009.[citation needed] On its first day of release the movie grossed US$31 million, and peaked at the top spot of the weekend box office with $71 million.[citation needed] It held the title for the highest-grossing opening weekend ever in April at that time.[citation needed] As of May 2009 the film has grossed a total of $346 million worldwide.[citation needed]

Lin directed and released the follow-up film Fast Five in 2011,[citation needed] which holds the titles for the highest-grossing opening weekend ever in April (US$84 million),[citation needed] and for any car-oriented film.[citation needed][19] Fast Five also broke box office records for being the second highest spring opening weekend,[citation needed] and surpassed Fast & Furious (2009) to become the highest-grossing film in the franchise.[citation needed] It grossed over $625 million worldwide, making it number 63 on the all-time worldwide list of highest-grossing films (in unadjusted dollars), and the seventh highest-grossing film of 2011.[citation needed]

Lin continued with its sixth installment, Fast & Furious 6. It became the largest Memorial Day Weekend gross for a Universal Pictures movie ever, setting a record of US$120 million and a worldwide total of $317 million.[20][21][22] It also became the highest grossing Universal Pictures movie in the UK, with an opening weekend UK gross larger than any other movie in the series.[23][24] Specifically, the film took more than US$4.4 million on its opening day, the biggest opening day for both the franchise and the studio in that market, the second-highest opening of 2013 (behind Iron Man 3 at $4.7 million), and the highest-grossing film of the day with 54% of the market.[25] In the UK, the film also finished as the number one film of the weekend, taking a ca. $14 million, making it the biggest opening for the franchise and Universal, and for a Vin Diesel or Dwayne Johnson film, and the second-biggest opening weekend of 2013 (again behind Iron Man 3, at ca. $18 million).[25]

The film performed relatively well critically. Metacritic describes it as having "generally favorable reviews",[26] and Rotten Tomatoes reports 75% approval from top critics, and 83% approval from viewers, as of March 2017.[27]

2015-present: Star Trek BeyondEdit

Lin co-wrote and co-produced the China-U.S. action-comedy co-production Hollywood Adventures (2015), starring Huang Xiaoming, Tong Dawei and Zhao Wei.[clarification needed][citation needed]

Lin directed Star Trek Beyond, released in July 2016. The film is the third in the series' feature film reboot.[28][29]

Announced film projectsEdit

As of April 2012, Variety was reporting that Lin was in talks to direct a feature film adaptation of David Henry Hwang's, play, Chinglish.[30]

In August 2012, Deadline was reporting that Lin may possibly direct a film based on the 1992 Los Angeles riots entitled L.A. Riots for Universal Studios, with Brian Grazer producing.[31]

In November 2012, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Lin planned to direct a sci-fi film entitled Hibernation.[32]

In February 2013, Deadline announced that Lin would helm a film adaptation of a thriller novel entitled The Breach by Patrick Lee.[33]

At the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, Lin acquired the narrative remake rights to the documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, the adaptation of which he reportedly plans to self-finance and produce through his Perfect Storm banner.[34]

In March 2014, Deadline and others reported Lin as having been slated to helm Times Square, based on The Black List script by Taylor Materne and Jacob Rubin, a crime thriller about "set in the last days of the old Times Square, when it was transitioning from a seedy lawless Midtown Manhattan dump to a family-friendly corporate mecca; in that backdrop, when a secret from his past is unearthed, a young man's loyalties are divided between his neighborhood boss who raised him and the grizzled ex-cop who swore to protect him."[35][36]

In November 2014, Deadline reported that Lin and Universal are discussing a return to direct the eighth Fast and Furious film with a multi-picture deal and an additional installment which will then close out the franchise.[37] However, F. Gary Gray ended up helming the eighth installment, The Fate of the Furious.

As of March 2015, Deadline was reporting Lin's plans to helm a 3D remake of Shaolin Temple under his banner Perfect Storm Entertainment, which focuses more on projects in China.[38]

In June 2016, Variety announced that producer Steven Paul's SP International Pictures had acquired the rights to produce a live-action English-language feature film remake of the "iconic" manga, Lone Wolf and Cub, in an article where Justin Lin went unmentioned,[39] after a March 2012 announcement that Lin might direct such a film.[40] In July 2016, Lin mentioned that he was re-attached as the director for an adaptation of the manga, and that he plans to have a predominantly Asian cast, saying

five-to-ten years ago, they would have wanted Keanu Reeves to play the dad. I think the cool thing about it is that filmmaking has gone global. There's many ways to make a movie and I think Hollywood has to evolve.[41][42]

In September 2016, Deadline reported that Lin would be the director and producer for the film Hot Wheels, a feature film based on Mattel's line of toy racing cars that Legendary Pictures is attached to co-produce.[43]

The reboot of the film Highlander (1986) was reported by Variety to be moving forward, as of November 2016, with Chad Stahelski directing,[44] after the August 2011 announcement that Lin had dropped plans to direct it because of scheduling conflicts with Fast & Furious 6,[45] although remaining on the project as an Executive Producer.[46]

In September 2017, it was announced that Lin would be directing and developing a narrative version of the documentary Abacus: Small Enough to Jail by Steve James (Hoop Dreams), who serves as an Executive Producer on the narrative film, with award-winning playwright and House of Cards writer Kenneth Lin will be responsible for writing the screenplay.[47]

Television projects, completed and announcedEdit

Justin Lin has directed several 2010 and later episodes of the NBC comedy series Community, including "Modern Warfare", which aired on May 6, 2010, as well as "Interpretive Dance",[when?] and "Introduction to Statistics".[when?][verification needed][citation needed]

In October 2013, Deadline announced that Lin would be directing the pilot of Scorpion, a CBS drama produced by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. The pilot would be based on the real life of Walter O'Brien.[who?] In addition to directing the first episode, Lin serves as one of the series Executive Producers, along with Nick Santora.[48] The series is about an eccentric genius who leads an international team of super-intelligent experts tasked with guarding against complex threats of the modern age.[49]

Also in October 2013, Deadline announced that Lin would be directing the pilot episode of an untitled TV crime series created by Shawn Ryan and Davey Holmes, Shameless, set in the Territory of Hawaii during 1957, when it was on path to its 1959 statehood decision.[50][51] A synopsis of the show describes it as "statehood and tourism are about to make a few men very rich, and when the brother of a small-time Hawaiian hustler is murdered, he resolves to wage war on the most powerful man on the island."[50]

In November 2013, Deadline reported that Lin would be producing a comedy for Fox about NBA player Dwyane Wade entitled Three The Hard Way, under his Perfect Storm banner.[52]

Lin directed the first two episodes in 2015 of the second season of True Detective, "The Western Book of the Dead" (S02E01) and "Night Finds You" (S02E02).[53]

Other projectsEdit

In 2009, Lin started the Asian American blog YOMYOMF which stands for "You Offend Me You Offend My Family." It was adapted into a YouTube channel in 2011.[54]

Recurring film collaboratorsEdit

Lin has collaborated with several of the actors he has worked with in his first film, Better Luck Tomorrow in his later films, including movies in both the Fast and Furious and Star Trek film franchises, as well as his later independent film, Finishing the Game. Within the four films he has directed in the Fast and Furious franchise, he has also collaborated with the same core group of actors, with Vin Diesel and Sung Kang appearing in all four Fast and Furious films that he directed. From Star Trek Beyond's cast, he previously collaborated with John Cho in both Better Luck Tomorrow and Shopping for Fangs. Lin's most frequent collaborator is Sung Kang, who has appeared in a total of six of Lin's films.

Other collaborations with actors also come from Lin's previous works on TV shows. Both Danny Pudi, who Lin directed on some episodes of Community, and Shohreh Aghdashloo, who was featured on an episode of Lin's produced show Scorpion, have roles in Star Trek Beyond.


Feature filmsEdit

Year Films Director Producer Writer Notes
1997 Shopping for Fangs Yes No Yes Co-directed with Quentin Lee
2002 Better Luck Tomorrow Yes Yes Yes
2006 Annapolis Yes No No
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Yes No No
2007 Finishing the Game Yes Yes No
2009 Fast & Furious Yes No No
2011 Fast Five Yes No No
2013 Fast & Furious 6 Yes No No
2015 Hollywood Adventures No Yes Yes
2016 Star Trek Beyond Yes Yes No
2021 F9 Yes Yes No Post-production
2023 Hot Wheels Yes No No Announced
TBA Untitled Fast & Furious film Yes No No Pre-production

Short filmsEdit

Year Films Director Producer Writer Notes
2000 Crossover Yes Yes Yes Documentary short
2005 Spotlighting Yes Yes No
2007 La revolución de Iguodala! Yes Yes Yes
2012 It Has Begun: Bananapocalypse Yes No No


Year Films Director Executive
Episodes directed
2009–2010 Community Yes No
2014–2018 Scorpion Yes Yes
  • "Pilot"
2015 True Detective Yes No
  • "The Western Book of the Death"
  • "Night Finds You"
2017–present S.W.A.T. Yes Yes
  • "Pilot"
2018–present Magnum P.I. Yes Yes
  • "Pilot"
2019–present Warrior No Yes

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Justin Lin". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Justin Lin biography". Tribute.ca. Archived from the original on April 5, 2017. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  3. ^ Carroll, Larry (June 15, 2005). "No Ludacris, No Diesel, No Walker, But '3 Fast 3 Furious' (Joke) Has Justin Lin". MTV News. Viacom.
  4. ^ Beth, Accomando. "Indie Directors Going Mainstream". KPBS (Public Radio). Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  5. ^ Lin, Justin. "End of an Era". Alivenotdead.com. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  6. ^ von Busack, Richard (June 4–10, 1998). "When The Moon Is Full, Lycanthropy is a metaphor for assimilation in 'Shopping for Fangs'". Metroactive.
  7. ^ "Media Arts | Japanese American National Museum". www.janm.org.
  8. ^ ""Crossover" - directed by Justin Lin, Asian American Film Reviews".
  9. ^ Mitchell, Elvis. "FILM REVIEW; Teenagers Determined to Damage Their Resumes". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Su, Mike (January 30, 2015). "He Trashed Hundreds Of Films In His Career. But 13 Years Ago, He Angrily Stood Up For One". upworthy. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  11. ^ Munoz, Lorenza (May 3, 2003). "MTV Films grows up with 'Luck'". Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ Swart, Sharon. "Introduction: 10 Directors to Watch". Variety. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  13. ^ NPR Staff (May 24, 2013). "Director Justin Lin Shifts The Identity Of 'Fast & Furious'". National Public Radio.
  14. ^ a b Foundas, Scott (May 1, 2013). "Justin Lin: 'Furious' Filmmaker Finds Even Better Luck Tomorrow". Variety. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
  15. ^ Ito, Robert (August 5, 2006). "50 Guys, All Trying to Look Like Bruce Lee". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Schindler, Mike & Mills, John (March 25, 2016). "Commentary—Trek Stars 177, True Detective: Tokyo Drift (Lin, Part 4: Finishing the Game)". Trek.fm. Retrieved March 2, 2017.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)[page needed]
  17. ^ In addition to any festivals listed in the text, the film was also selected as an opening night film at: the 23rd Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival;[citation needed] the 30th Asian American International Film Festival in New York;[citation needed] the 2007 DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival;[citation needed] the 11th Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival;[citation needed] the Asian Film Festival of Dallas;[when?][citation needed] and the DisOrient Film Festival of Oregon.[when?][citation needed]
  18. ^ Goto, Taro & SFIAAFF Staff (February 24, 2007). "Finishing the Game [25th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF)], March 15-25 2007—Films & Events, Screening, Thu 3/15". AsianAmericanFilmFestival.org. Archived from the original on February 24, 2007. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  19. ^ The prior record was held by Cars, which grossed $60 million.[citation needed]
  20. ^ McClintock, Pamela (May 27, 2013). "Box Office Report: 'Fast 6' No. 1 With $300 Million Globally; 'Hangover III' Sputters". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  21. ^ McClintock, Pamela (May 26, 2013). "Box Office Report: 'Fast 6' Earns $122 Million-Plus, Runs 'Hangover III' Off Course". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  22. ^ Toro, Gabe (May 26, 2013). "Weekend Box Office: 'Furious 6' Leads Biggest Memorial Day". The Playlist. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  23. ^ "'Fast and Furious 6' Shattering UK Box Office Records". WorstPreviews.com. May 22, 2015.
  24. ^ Earnshaw, Helen (May 23, 2013). "Fast & Furious 6 Storms UK Box Office". Female First. UK. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  25. ^ a b Finke, Nikki (May 19, 2013). "'Fast & Furious 6′ Breaks Records In UK-Ireland Before Begins Global Rollout May 24". Deadline Hollywood.
  26. ^ "Fast & Furious 6". Metacritic. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  27. ^ RT Staff (March 2, 2017). "Fast & Furious 6 (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  28. ^ Goldman, Eric (December 22, 2014). "Justin Lin to Direct Star Trek 3". IGN.com. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  29. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (December 22, 2014). "Star Trek 3's New Director Will Be 'Fast & Furious 6' Helmer Justin Lin". Deadline. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  30. ^ McNary, Dave (April 24, 2012). "Justin Lin to helm, produce 'Chinglish'". Variety. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  31. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (August 8, 2012). "Justin Lin Boards Universal's 'L.A. Riots'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  32. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (November 2, 2012). "Justin Lin to Direct Sci-Fi Thriller 'Hibernation' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  33. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (February 19, 2013). "Justin Lin, Michael De Luca Team At Warner Bros On Patrick Lee Thriller Novel". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  34. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (January 24, 2014). "Sundance: Justin Lin to Adapt 'Battered Bastards of Baseball' Doc". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  35. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (March 19, 2014). "'Fast & Furious' Helmer Justin Lin To Direct 'Times Square'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  36. ^ McNary, Dave (March 19, 2014). "'Fast and Furious' Director Justin Lin on 'Times Square'". Variety. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  37. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (November 12, 2014). "Will Justin Lin Rev 'Fast & Furious' Finale?". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  38. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy. "Justin Lin To Direct Chinese-Language 3D Remake Of 'The Shaolin Temple'". Deadline Hollywood. January 17, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  39. ^ Frater, Patrick (June 27, 2016). "Iconic Manga 'Wolf and Cub' Set for Live-Action Remake by SP International (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  40. ^ Chitwood, Adam (March 27, 2012). "Justin Lin to Direct Lone Wolf and Cub for Kamala Films". Collider.com. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  41. ^ Nugent, John (July 12, 2016). "Exclusive: Justin Lin talks Lone Wolf And Cub". Empire. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  42. ^ Marnell, Blair (July 12, 2016). "Justin Lin is Still Attached to the Lone Wolf and Cub Movie". nerdist.com. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  43. ^ Kit, Borys (September 28, 2016). "'Star Trek Beyond' Director Justin Lin Tackling 'Hot Wheels' for Legendary (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 14, 2016.
  44. ^ McNary, Dave (November 22, 2016). "'Highlander' Reboot Moves Forward With 'John Wick' Director Chad Stahelski". Retrieved March 2, 2017. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  45. ^ Barr, Jason (August 11, 2011). "Fast Five 's Justin Lin No Longer Directing Highlander Reboot". Collider. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  46. ^ Kit, Borys (August 11, 2011). "Director Justin Lin Exits Summit's 'Highlander' Remake (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  47. ^ Mike Fleming Jr., Deadline, 'Abacus: Small Enough To Jail' About Chinatown Bank Charged In 2008 Mortgage Crisis, http://deadline.com/2017/09/justin-lin-abacus-small-enough-to-jail-chinatown-banker-sung-family-2008-mortgage-crisis-1202167181/
  48. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (October 14, 2013). "Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci Team With Nick Santora & Justin Lin For CBS Put Pilot, Sell CW Terrorist Drama". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  49. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (February 4, 2014). "CBS Orders Drama Pilot From Justin Lin, Nick Santora". Variety. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  50. ^ a b Andreeva, Nellie (October 16, 2013). "Shawn Ryan/Justin Lin Period Drama Set In Hawaii Gets Fox Put Pilot Commitment". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  51. ^ "Shawn Ryan Lands New Pilot Set In Hawaii At Fox". The Huffington Post. October 17, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  52. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (November 19, 2013). "Dwyane Wade Comedy Series 'Three The Hard Way' Lands At Fox". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  53. ^ Adams, Sam. "First Reviews: True Detective Season 2 Loses the Light". IndieWire.
  54. ^ Christian, Aymar Jean (December 26, 2012). "Squad 85, Internet Icon: YOMYOMF is the Web's most diverse TV channel". Slate Magazine. Retrieved March 11, 2015.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit