Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Review by Michael Jaffe

In the Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the plot is a lot more like NASCAR than the exciting and visually stimulating badassery that is drift racing. In FFTD, one of the better chase scenes I have seen, where four cars weave in and out of Tokyo traffic. Director Justin Lin uses the scenery of Tokyo to make the chase scenes not only exciting, but they are one of the rare bright spots in this highly predictable, wannabe macho flick. The plot is probably as run of the mill as they come where a outcast in Texas is shipped to live with his dead beat army dad in Tokyo to escape prosecution in the states. As far as flawed logic goes, this is ridiculous as the main character, Shawn, is allowed to flee the country after causing massive property damage in an exhilarating race scene at the movies beginning.
At least the races are fun to watch, because that is the only part of the movie that are worth watching. Once Shawn gets to Tokyo, his father tells him to stay away from cars, but immediately Shawn’s new friend Twinkie throws him into the world of Tokyo’s underground drift racing. The story that follows has no real twists or turns and simply goes thought the motions. This really disappointed me as I thought that Justin Lin would bring new life to the series, and he has, but not to the story line. The writing lags at points and doesn’t really spice anything up. The actors don’t really seem at fault; even Bow Wow does an OK job with the material handed to him. Lucas Black, who I thought was a rising star, hits hopefully what is a brief low in his career as I had really liked his performances is Jarhead and especially Crazy in Alabama. Sung Kang as the man who befriends Shawn and takes him into the world of drift racing goes to the Brad Pitt school of cool and constantly is eating and fiddling with stuff in his mouth and surprisingly is a highpoint of the film and the only character who provides not only emotion, but the crowds cheers.
The film really does its best when the drivers are behind the wheels of the cars, spinning and grooving to a surprisingly decent, albeit repetitive, soundtrack. Also, Director Lin’s use of the Japan location really brings new life into scenes that would otherwise be boring, but instead there is a lot of cool scenery to look at. The race at Mt. Akina is pretty good. The cameo by Sonny Chiba is pretty good as he just jokes his way through three scenes, not really caring and playing it fairly tongue in cheek, Reynolds style.
Compared to the other FF movies, it is maybe on par with the first one which I recently re-viewed and liked a lot for the races and macho attitudes carried by the stars, and FFTD is much better than 2F2F which was pretty much a homoerotic joke. But FF:Tokyo Drift is a completely different animal that really shouldn’t be considered part of the seires as it isn’t about the macho bull shit, but how people feel, which might have worked if the critical flaw of the movie trying to be macho, but falling far short in the manly category. As a separate movie though, it was a half decent, somewhat enjoyable time at the movies. 6/10

P.S. For someone looking for a better race movie, that has tons of funny movies, intentional or not but still some great racing scenes, I recommend Initial D (review coming real soon!), which is now out on DVD in the states. It is what Tokyo Drift should’ve been.

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