Justin Lin

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Justin Lin
Lin at the Star Trek Beyond premiere in Japan in 2016
Born (1971-10-11) October 11, 1971 (age 52)
NationalityTaiwanese American
Alma mater
  • Film and television director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1994–present

Justin Lin (traditional Chinese: 林詣彬; simplified Chinese: 林诣彬; pinyin: Lín Yìbīn; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Lîm Gē-pin, born October 11, 1971) is a Taiwanese-American[1][2] film and television director, producer, and screenwriter. His films have grossed over $3 billion USD worldwide as of March 2017.[3] 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.

Early life and education[edit]

Lin was born on October 11, 1971, in Taipei, Taiwan.[4] He immigrated with his family to the United States at the age of eight and grew up in Buena Park, California. He graduated from nearby Cypress High School.[5] Lin earned the rank of Eagle Scout in March 1989 while a member of Boy Scout Troop 670.[6]

Lin attended the University of California, San Diego for two years[7] before transferring to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He received a Bachelor of Arts with a major in film and television and a Master of Fine Arts in film directing and production from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.[8] He was given a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2017.[9]


Film work[edit]

1997–2005: Better Luck Tomorrow, Annapolis[edit]

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.[10]

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.[11][12]

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.[13] 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."[14] 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.[15] 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 film.[16]

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. The film cost US$26 million to make, but grossed only $17 million worldwide.[citation needed]

2006–2015: Fast & Furious franchise, minor projects[edit]

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.[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."[17][18] Instead, Lin wanted to make a film about Japan, which was "much more postmodern" as he mentioned, and intended to have a film on a more global scale that went against preconceived stereotypes.[18]

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.[19][20] 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][21] for instance at the 25th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.[22]

Lin returned to direct Fast & Furious, the fourth in the film series, which opened on April 3, 2009.[23] On its first day of release the movie grossed US$30.6 million, and peaked at the top spot of the weekend box office with $71.0 million.[24] The film ultimately grossed $359 million worldwide.[24]

Lin directed the follow-up 2011 film Fast Five, 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][25] 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]

Following the success of Fast Five, Lin and his production company Barnstorm Pictures signed a two-year first-look deal with Universal Pictures, the company that owns the Fast and Furious franchise.[26]

Lin continued with its sixth installment, Fast & Furious 6. It became the largest Memorial Day Weekend gross for a Universal Pictures film, setting a record of US$120 million and a worldwide total of $317 million.[27][28][29] It also became the highest grossing Universal Pictures film in the UK, with an opening weekend UK gross larger than any other movie in the series.[30][31] 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.[32] In the UK, the film also finished as the number one film of the weekend, taking around $14 million, making it the biggest opening for the franchise and Universal, and for a Vin Diesel film, and the second-biggest opening weekend of 2013 (again behind Iron Man 3, at around $18 million).[32] The film performed relatively well critically. Metacritic describes it as having "generally favorable reviews",[33] and Rotten Tomatoes reports 75% approval from top critics, and 83% approval from viewers, as of March 2017.[34]

2015–present: Star Trek Beyond[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Lin directed Star Trek Beyond, released in July 2016. The film is the third in the series' feature film reboot.[35][36]

In October 2017, Lin was confirmed to be returning to the Fast & Furious franchise, directing F9. Originally set for an April 2020 release, the film was ultimately released in June 2021 after several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lin was then slated to return to direct Fast X and Fast & Furious 11 but dropped out of directing the two films about a week into production and Louis Leterrier was hired to replace him.[37]

Announced film projects[edit]

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.[38]

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.[39]

In November 2012, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Lin planned to direct a sci-fi film entitled Hibernation.[40]

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.[41]

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."[42][43]

In March 2015, Deadline reported Lin's plans to helm a 3D remake of Shaolin Temple under his banner Perfect Storm Entertainment, which focuses more on projects in China.[44]

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 Lin went unmentioned,[45] after a March 2012 announcement that Lin might direct such a film.[46] 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.[47][48]

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.[49]

In June 2022, Lin was announced to be directing the live-action film adaptation of One-Punch Man for Sony Pictures.[50] In December 2023, Lin was announced to be directing the heist action thriller film Two for the Money for Apple Studios.[51]

Television work[edit]

Lin directed three episodes on the first season of the NBC comedy series Community between 2009 and 2010, which include "Modern Warfare", "Interpretive Dance", and "Introduction to Statistics". For his work on the show, Lin was nominated for two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series.[52][53] In September 2011, Lin and his production company Barnstorm Pictures signed a first-look deal with Sony Pictures Television, who produced Community.[54]

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 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.[55] The pilot would be based on the real life of information technologist Walter O'Brien. In addition to directing the first episode, Lin serves as one of the series executive producers, along with Nick Santora.[56]

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).[57]

In December 2018, Lin signed an overall TV deal with Apple, Inc., departing from his deal with Sony Pictures Television.[58] In the fall of 2020, Lin's Perfect Storm Entertainment signed an overall film and television first look deal with Universal Studios.[59]

Lin also serves as Executive Producer of the series Warrior based on the writings of Bruce Lee.

Other projects[edit]

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.[60]

In 2022, Lin set a joint venture with (art)ificial, the art & tech studio behind the NFT sci-fi collection Galaxy Eggs, with the intention to be the first company to build a Hollywood franchise from original NFT art.[61]

Personal life[edit]

Lin has a son, Okwe, who has made cameo appearances in several of his movies.[62][63]



Year Title Director Producer Writer Notes
1997 Shopping for Fangs Yes No Yes Co-directed with Quentin Lee
Also editor
2002 Better Luck Tomorrow Yes Yes Yes Also editor
2006 Annapolis Yes No No
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Yes No No
2007 Finishing the Game Yes Yes Yes
2009 Fast & Furious Yes No No
2011 Fast Five Yes Executive No
2013 Fast & Furious 6 Yes Executive No
2015 Hollywood Adventures No Yes Yes
2016 Star Trek Beyond Yes Yes No
2021 F9 Yes Yes Yes
2023 Fast X No Yes Yes Replaced as director by Louis Leterrier

Executive producer


Year Title Director Executive
Episodes directed
2009–2010 Community Yes No "Introduction to Statistics"
"Interpretive Dance"
"Modern Warfare"
2014–2018 Scorpion Yes Yes "Pilot"
2015 True Detective Yes No "The Western Book of the Dead"
"Night Finds You"
2017–present S.W.A.T. Yes Yes "Pilot"
2018–2024 Magnum P.I. Yes Yes "Pilot"
2019–2023 Warrior No Yes
2022 The Endgame Yes Yes "Pilot"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (July 22, 2016). "'Star Trek Beyond's Justin Lin On Family Ties & Ethnic Diversity". Deadline. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  2. ^ 卓翰, 楊 (August 11, 2016). "林詣彬:我身上唯一值錢的,是和別人不同的視野". 今周刊. Business Today. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  3. ^ "Justin Lin". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  4. ^ Lin, Justin [@justinlin] (October 12, 2015). "Thx for all the birthday wishes! Couldn't ask for a better way to spend it than be on set with cast & crew! pic.twitter.com/BxflzNhrOl" (Tweet). Retrieved May 2, 2020 – via Twitter.
  5. ^ Chang, Richard (May 22, 2007). "Back to his roots". Orange County Register. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  6. ^ "Troop 670 Eagle Scouts". troop670.net. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
  7. ^ Lin, Justin. "End of an Era". Alivenotdead.com. migme. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  8. ^ "Justin Lin biography". Tribute.ca. Archived from the original on April 5, 2017. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  9. ^ Hipes, Patrick (June 13, 2017). "Ava DuVernay To Give UCLA Film School Commencement Speech". Deadline. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  10. ^ von Busack, Richard (June 4–10, 1998). "When The Moon Is Full, Lycanthropy is a metaphor for assimilation in 'Shopping for Fangs'". Metroactive.
  11. ^ ""Crossover" - directed by Justin Lin, Asian American Film Reviews".
  12. ^ "Media Arts | Japanese American National Museum". www.janm.org.
  13. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (November 24, 2022). "FILM REVIEW; Teenagers Determined to Damage Their Resumes". The New York Times.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Munoz, Lorenza (May 3, 2003). "MTV Films grows up with 'Luck'". Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ Swart, Sharon (January 19, 2006). "Introduction: 10 Directors to Watch". Variety. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  17. ^ NPR Staff (May 24, 2013). "Director Justin Lin Shifts The Identity Of 'Fast & Furious'". National Public Radio.
  18. ^ a b Foundas, Scott (May 1, 2013). "Justin Lin: 'Furious' Filmmaker Finds Even Better Luck Tomorrow". Variety. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
  19. ^ Ito, Robert (August 5, 2006). "50 Guys, All Trying to Look Like Bruce Lee". The New York Times.
  20. ^ 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.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)[page needed]
  21. ^ 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]
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ "Fast and Furious 6 (2013) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
  24. ^ a b "Fast & Furious (2009) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
  25. ^ The prior record was held by Cars, which grossed $60 million.[citation needed]
  26. ^ Kit, Borys (August 22, 2011). "'Fast Five' Director Justin Lin Inks Universal Deal, Sets Production Slate (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ Toro, Gabe (May 26, 2013). "Weekend Box Office: 'Furious 6' Leads Biggest Memorial Day". The Playlist. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  30. ^ "'Fast and Furious 6' Shattering UK Box Office Records". WorstPreviews.com. May 22, 2015.
  31. ^ Earnshaw, Helen (May 23, 2013). "Fast & Furious 6 Storms UK Box Office". Female First. UK. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  32. ^ a b Finke, Nikki (May 19, 2013). "'Fast & Furious 6′ Breaks Records In UK-Ireland Before Begins Global Rollout May 24". Deadline Hollywood.
  33. ^ "Fast & Furious 6". Metacritic. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  34. ^ RT Staff (March 2, 2017). "Fast & Furious 6 (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  35. ^ Goldman, Eric (December 22, 2014). "Justin Lin to Direct Star Trek 3". IGN.com. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  36. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (December 22, 2014). "Star Trek 3's New Director Will Be 'Fast & Furious 6' Helmer Justin Lin". Deadline. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  37. ^ Vary, Adam; Donnelly, Matt; Jackson, Angelique (May 2, 2022). "Fast X: Louis Leterrier to Replace Justin Lin as Director". Variety. Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  38. ^ McNary, Dave (April 24, 2012). "Justin Lin to helm, produce 'Chinglish'". Variety. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  39. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (August 8, 2012). "Justin Lin Boards Universal's 'L.A. Riots'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  40. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (November 2, 2012). "Justin Lin to Direct Sci-Fi Thriller 'Hibernation' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  41. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (January 24, 2014). "Sundance: Justin Lin to Adapt 'Battered Bastards of Baseball' Doc". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  42. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 19, 2014). "'Fast & Furious' Helmer Justin Lin To Direct 'Times Square'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  43. ^ McNary, Dave (March 19, 2014). "'Fast and Furious' Director Justin Lin on 'Times Square'". Variety. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  44. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (January 17, 2014). "Justin Lin To Direct Chinese-Language 3D Remake Of 'The Shaolin Temple'". Deadline Hollywood. January 17, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  45. ^ Frater, Patrick (June 27, 2016). "Iconic Manga 'Wolf and Cub' Set for Live-Action Remake by SP International (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  46. ^ Chitwood, Adam (March 27, 2012). "Justin Lin to Direct Lone Wolf and Cub for Kamala Films". Collider.com. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  47. ^ Nugent, John (July 12, 2016). "Exclusive: Justin Lin talks Lone Wolf And Cub". Empire. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  48. ^ Marnell, Blair (July 12, 2016). "Justin Lin is Still Attached to the Lone Wolf and Cub Movie". nerdist.com. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  49. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (September 11, 2017). "'Abacus: Small Enough To Jail' About Chinatown Bank Charged In 2008 Mortgage Crisis". Deadline.
  50. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (June 13, 2022). "Sony Pictures Taps Justin Lin To Direct 'One Punch Man,' Adaptation Of Manga Classic; Scott Rosenberg & Jeff Pinkner Scripting". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 21, 2023.
  51. ^ Kit, Borys (December 8, 2023). "Charlize Theron, Daniel Craig, Justin Lin Team for Heist Thriller 'Two for the Money' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 8, 2023.
  52. ^ Finke, Nikki (January 6, 2010). "41st NAACP Image Award Nominations". Deadline. Archived from the original on October 7, 2018. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  53. ^ Finke, Nikki (January 12, 2011). "2011 NAACP Image Award Film/TV Noms". Deadline. Archived from the original on April 2, 2019. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  54. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (September 2, 2011). "'Fast And Furious' Director Justin Lin Signs First-Look Deal With Sony Pictures TV". Deadline. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  55. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (February 4, 2014). "CBS Orders Drama Pilot From Justin Lin, Nick Santora". Variety. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  56. ^ 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.
  57. ^ Adams, Sam. "First Reviews: True Detective Season 2 Loses the Light". IndieWire.
  58. ^ Petski, Denise (December 17, 2018). "Justin Lin Inks Overall TV Deal With Apple". Deadline. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  59. ^ Kroll, Justin (August 27, 2020). "Justin Lin And His Perfect Storm Entertainment Banner Signs Multi-Year Overall Deal For Film And TV With Universal Pictures And Universal Studio Group". Deadline. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  60. ^ 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.
  61. ^ Kroll, Justin. "Justin Lin's Perfect Storm Entertainment Partners With (Art)ificial Entertainment On NFT Collection 'Galaxy Eggs'". Deadline. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  62. ^ "Fast & Furious 9: Director Justin Lin's Son Came Up With Magnet Plane Stunt – Exclusive". Empire. May 13, 2021. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  63. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (July 18, 2016). "11 Things You Didn't Know About 'Star Trek Beyond'". The Tracking Board. Retrieved October 8, 2022.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]