According to an April 2003 NPR radio interview with Elvis Mitchell, Justin Lin's production company was on the verge of folding unless he could secure a certain amount of funding. Lin had essentially resigned himself to failure; but on a whim called a celebrity he had met once in Las Vegas. Lin got a call the day before the deadline from the celeb saying that he had read the script and wanted to provide some backing. Two hours later, the new investor had wired Lin the money and saved the production. The celebrity: MC Hammer.
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This marks the first appearance of the character "Han" on film before the "Fast & Furious" series.
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There is a line in the narration that says, Fast and Furious." Justin Lin went on to direct the later Fast and the Furious movies and also starred Sung Kang as Han.
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In a February 2016 interview with the New York Times, Justin Lin recalled than when he was struggling to arrange financing for Better Luck Tomorrow, he had one potential investor who offered Lin $1 million, but only on the condition that the movie had to have Macaulay Culkin in the lead. Lin said, "If I would have said yes, I would have gotten $1 million and I would have gotten to make the movie with a white cast, but it didn't interest me."
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The film was financed with credit cards and with money raised independently by the filmmakers. The actors deferred their salaries.
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The first independent film to be picked up by MTV Films for distribution.
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On the Employees of the Month board of the fast food restaurant where Ben works, Justin Lin is listed as employee of the month February.
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Although some people thought that the film was inspired by the 1992 murder of Stuart Tay, an Asian-American youth who was killed by four of his peers on New Year's Eve in Orange County, California, filmmaker Justin Lin has stated that "at the very beginning of the writing process, [he] made a conscious decision not to base it on that, or any other, real event."
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During a Q&A after the screening at Sundance, one audience member asked the filmmakers if they thought they were being irresponsible by portraying Asian-Americans negatively. Renowned film critic Roger Ebert stood up and shouted at the man that Asian-Americans can make whatever films they want, about whoever they want, and do not have any obligation to represent their people.
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The Beaver, Jerry Mathers makes an appearance as the biology teacher.
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Original prints of the film's theatrical poster misspelled Parry Shen's name as "Perry Shen".
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