The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama
Universal || PG13 - 105 minutes - $29.98 || September 26, 2006
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2006-09-29


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Justin Lin
Writer(s): Chris Morgan
Cast: Lucas Black, Bow Wow, Nathalie Kelley, Sung Kang, Brian Tee


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director's Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Drifting School
  • Cast Cam
  • The Big Breakdown: Han's Last Ride
  • Tricked Out to Drift
  • The Real Drift King
  • The Japanese Way
  • Music Video


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

!!WARNING: SPOILERS!!

When I first saw The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in theaters only a couple months ago, I knew that it would be like the first two, meaning there would be little (if any) character development and the story would be loosely strung together in order to showcase the cars and some eye candy. The original Fast and the Furious was a good movie because while it certainly wasn’t a great movie by any stretch of the imagination and even the characters were clichéd. I liked it because newcomer Vin Diesel played a likeable character (even though he was an antagonist) in combination with some excellent car chases and other like-wise sequences, all of which help overcome wooded acting from Paul “Bro” Walker.

Five years and a Diesel-less sequel later, Tokyo Drift makes a brand new start without even Paul Walker with a new main character, location and a new racing style (and the eye candy is probably the best of the franchise). The problem I had seeing it the theater is while some of the racing scenes, especially the climax, were good, I didn’t think it offered anything that spectacular. Yes, the drifting style of racing is interesting and cool to watch, but the film lacked anything to care about. As much as I get annoyed with Paul Walker, he had co-stars in the first two that made each more tolerable than they deserved to be. Tyrese Gibson might not have been a great asset to 2 Fast 2 Furious, but he had the same kind of charisma as Diesel, however who did they replace these guys with? Neither Lucas Black nor Bow Wow had much to do except try to look good while drifting and the sole highlight for me was Sung Kang as Han who deserved to have more scenes.

On DVD, Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is slightly better (relatively speaking), but still very flawed, movie that teens will enjoy, but anyone older will grow tired of sub-standard acting and unspectacular race scenes. While not horrible, I can’t think of a reason to see it more than once (much like the equally tolerable 2 Fast) so give it a rental if you haven’t seen it -- or skip to the end to see a nice cameo from an old friend.

Here is my original review:

At the age of 25½, I am just at the age now that the Fast and the Furious franchise is targets. In 2001, director Rob Cohen presented a great summer action flick and introduced a 21st century action star, Vin Diesel and just a fun beginning to a promising franchise. Two years later, only Paul “Bro” Walker returned joined by Tyrese for an acceptable entry, but one that has not held up well over the three years since.

Now, with Tokyo Drift, not even Walker wanted to come back and we’re given a new hero in Lucas Black (Jarhead) playing Sean Boswell, a troubled teen who moves from city to city with his mother and only ends up getting in trouble. After a street race with a football jock (former “Home Improvement”-er Zachery Ty Bryan) causing destruction, mayhem, bodily injury (though somehow not life threatening) and loss of hearing he is sent to Tokyo to live with his military father. It’s not too long until he discovers Tokyo’s racing community and a new style called “drifting.”

Our hero butts heads with the “Drift King” (Tee), aligns with DK’s partner, Han (Kang) -- a friendship reminiscent of the Dom/Brian dynamic in FATF1 -- and falls for the lovely Neela (Kelley). Of course, although the two have a mutual attraction, she is DK’s girl and thus things get personal between DK and Sean.

At face value, Tokyo Drift is an OK movie but far below the original in quality and even story, but I still would appreciate at least a smidgen of charisma, something which Vin Diesel and, to a certain extent, Tyrese had in the previous installments. Lucas Black showed that he has the acting chops to take a leading role (see: Jarhead), unfortunately, however, the character is so ordinary and uninteresting that any form of emotion the writers try to inject, fall flat. I know these kind of movies aren’t going to be heavy in that department, but I need to at least care about these characters in order to root for (or against) them. Instead, what I felt was I was watching some kind of TV movie produced by MTV or *gasp* The N.

Since Black’s character isn’t fully developed, there is no hope for Brian Tee, Nathalie Kelley, Sung Kang or Bow Wow. For his part, Kang makes a good mentor-type to teach Sean how to drift and even though he’s likable, I don’t think they did a good job fleshing it out anymore. His character is more of the Japanese counterpart to Diesel’s character from FATF1 and there is some insight into Han’s checkered background (he is partnered up with bad guy DK after all), but we know that Diesel wasn’t a great and despite that, we still root for him. Yeah, Han is a good guy in this world, but I would’ve liked to have known more.

I’m almost shut out of the 18-25 demographic this film targets (and some argue it’s more like 18-24), so this review is for those over 25 and fans of the original. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift isn’t a bad movie -- in the sense of Batman & Robin -- but bad as in I’m no longer satisfied with being... well, satisfied. There are plenty movies available on DVD or TV that there’s little or no reason to go to the theater.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Given the target audience, I realize these features aren’t going to be in-depth or well put together, but I did expect more in terms of cast and crew interviews. Missing were Lucas Black and Bow Wow who only give various sound bites, but not much else.

Director’s Commentary - Director Justin Lin goes solo (like Rob Cohen and John Singleton before) and provides a decently detailed account on filming the sequel along with the usual butt kissing with compliments to the cast. Also, he does explain that at the end with the “surprise” cameo, that Vin Diesel was nice enough to come in and film his scenes for what I assume was little to no money and that he had seen a rough cut and liked it. The reason for the appearance was to leave the film (and franchise) on an up note with the death of Han and also to keep the idea of family alive.

Deleted Scenes (19:05) - There are 11 deleted scenes with an optional commentary. Presented in non-anamorphic widescreen, these scenes don’t add too much but you do get to see some more cultural oddities including a dance that looks curiously like the ‘Macarena’. As for Ling’s commentary, a majority of these were deleted for pacing, though there were a couple he struggled between leaving in or cutting.

Drifting School (7:25) - A good portion of the cast each got lessons on racing and drifting. Apparently, the cast member who made the greatest stride was Nathalie who only recently got her license.

Cast Cam (4:13) - Extras on the set have their own cameras going on the street and on soundstages, chat up various members of the cast and crew. Watching them race in carts was funny, but this is a throwaway junk (more suitable for the Net).

The Big Breakdown: Han’s Last Ride (8:08) - Probably the best of the features could’ve been broken down better, but what I found most interesting was the sequence was filmed in Los Angeles near Wilshire and other parts in a parking lot. It was cool to see how they integrated Tokyo (via visual effects) with real elements.

Tricked Out to Drift (10:36) - A look at the making of the drift cars outfitting with the proper engine parts to making the exterior camera friendly using fiberglass mixed with kits.

The Real Drift King (3:34) - Features sound bites (through an interpreter) with the real drift king and how he got started. Not much in the way of information, but interesting to see that he doesn’t come across as a racer.

The Japanese Way (9:25) - Pretty much a making-of featurette that could’ve been great if it had been put together better. This one takes a look at filming in Tokyo (where it is tough to get permits) and about working within this culture where many shots were taken (or stolen) using hand-held cameras and just putting the actors out there with regular people (much how Sofia Coppola did with Lost in Translation).

The disc also features a music video.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Tokyo Drift is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 2.35 aspect ratio. The bright colors of Japan, their cars and the women dressed in unusual clothing come through nicely with perfect clarity.

I would’ve liked this movie to have a DTS track because the Dolby 5.1 mix is absolutely great. The bass goes into overdrive with the rap beats and revs of the engines. The sound is probably the best aspect of the entire disc for me as I love it when my bass is used fully.



.::OVERALL::.

No, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift isn’t terrible but it does lack the charisma of the original. It might hold the attention of car enthusiasts, but others will grow tired of the average story, poor acting and sub-standard writing.

I wish this franchise could continue with Vin Diesel returning, but considering its failure at the box office (rightfully so), like many third movies in a franchise, this one will be the final entry, which is a shame.