The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Film review by: Witney Seibold


            This is the third in the Fast and Furious film series, and my first. Luckily, none of the cast members of the original two appear in this film, and it is only linked in a thematic way (fast and furious streetcar racing) to its forebears, so I was not lost. It’s a perfectly serviceable movie with ups and downs, but it’s not enough to make me want to run out and rent the first two. The film is littered with clichés, and I found the lead character, played by good ol’ Southern boy Lucas Black, to be a bit flat and grating, but the depiction of Tokyo was frank and honest, and some of the racing scenes were indeed genuinely exciting.


            The setup: Mysteriously twentysomething highschooler Shawn (Black) is a cocky greasemonkey who has moved around several times to avoid the law. When he has a disastrous Rebel without a Cause-style race with one of his classmates, he is shipped off to Japan to live with his Navy father. He speaks no Japanese, but nothing doing, he’s going to school anyway. Luckily his Japanese school is populated with other military brats including hustler Twinkie (Bow Wow, formerly Li’l Bow Wow) and love-interest Neela (Nathalie Kelley). It’s never explained where Neela comes from, and she has one of those implacable Christopher Lambert-ian accents. Predictably, Shawn falls in with the local racing circuit, where he learns about “drifting.” Drifting is a nickname for the controlled skids necessary for racing in Tokyo’s cramped streets and parking structures. He finds a friend in Chinese ex-pat Han (Sung Kang), and an enemy in yakuza brat DK (Brian Tee). Eventually all the tensions can be salved with (you guessed it) a race. Sonny Chiba shows up as a yakuza boss.


            Director Justin Lin made a wonderful film in 2002 called Better Luck Tomorrow, about ambitious criminal Asian high school students in Orange County, and he certainly has a knack for subcultures, so the world of racing, the groaning engines, the bling-obsessed devotees, and the streets of Tokyo, the pachinko parlors, the tight living quarters, really come alive in the film. Sadly, it’s all in service of a cheap sport-style flick with some bad dialogue (“You live under my roof, you play by my rules.”), and a perfectly predictable plot. Fun racing, though.

 -June 16th, Universal Pictures

Published in: on March 27, 2008 at 1:29 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] only other film from this series that I’ve seen was the third, “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” and that film featured none of the series’ regular characters, so, in a way, this is my […]

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