“The Best Fast and Furious Movie Ever!” Forgive me for that loud statement as I am trying like hell to get myself quoted on one of those movie posters or get me a quote on a TV commercial or something, so any superlatives I say about this film with be in quotes to help make that happen for me. Not that the preceding statement isn’t true, but as far as praise goes, it is faint to say the least.
‘Tokyo Drift’ picks absolutely nowhere after the first two Furious flicks and instead focuses on wayward highschooler Sean Boswell (Lucas Black – looking ten years to old to be in ‘high school’). An “Awesome drag racing!” incident with the local high school football stud lands Lucas in hot water and Lucas’ mom is forced to send the boy to live with his father in Tokyo to keep him out of juvenile hall. In a bit of an oddity, though Sean’s dad is a Navy man stationed in Japan, Sean has to attend a Japanese school and lives with his dad in what looks like a Japanese ghetto. Being the child of an Army officer stationed in the Asian Pacific, let me assure you they have schools for us to go to and bases for us to live on. But I guess that wouldn’t help “A Plot that Moves!”
Despite his estranged father’s warning to stay out of trouble, Sean gets in to trouble racing against up and coming Yakuza hopeful DK (Brian Tee). DK, by the way, stands for ‘Drift King’. Drifting is a driving maneuver in which you use a combination of hand braking an acceleration to pull off “Super Tight Moves!” In losing the race, Sean wrecks another young gangster hopeful, Han’s (Sung Kang) hot rod. Han takes the kid under his wing however and the two become fast friends with Han becoming
Sean’s personal Mr. Miyagi teaching him how to drift properly. Toss in a love struggle with Sean putting the moves on DK’s girl, Neela (Nathalie Kelley) and sprinkle in a fast-talking, I-Pod hustling black dude (Bow Wow) and we have “A Movie That’s Complete!”
There are two sides to ‘Tokyo Drift’. First and foremost “The Racing Scenes are Mind-Blowing!” Director Justin Lin halfway makes up for his previous film, the anemic ‘Annapolis’ by shooting and CGing some good looking, chrome plated high octane driving sequences (shoulda quoted that). I left the theater wanting to rev up my Kia, pull up my handbrake and drift like crazy through Birmingham Michigan. This probably would have flipped my Kia about forty times resulting in my untimely demise. Woulda killed Bud too, who was on the passenger side, but “Who Gives a Damn About Him!” The hottie quotient in this flick will probably be among the highest you’ll see all summer. I hope short skirts don’t offend you. Also on the plus side, Sonny Chiba was in this movie people. You heard right, the Street Fighter himself. Sonny Chiba’s mere presence in a movie raises the quality of any production exponentially, and ‘Tokyo Drift’ is no exception.
The second side of ‘Tokyo Drift’ is that it has the lamest plot and weakest dialog of any movie I’ve seen in recent history. Every time somebody opened their mouths something stupid came out, except for Sonny Chiba because “Sonny Chiba ROCKS!!!” It would seem to progress from one inane plot point to the next inane plot point, they were making stuff up as they went along. You may want to read my review of the movie ‘Torque’ to see how to properly remove stupid stuff from your racing movie and just leave in the racing and hotties. ‘Tokyo Drift’ had less dialog and less plot than either of the first two Furious flicks, and it was still too much.
But hey, go watch ‘Citizen Kane’ if you want scintillating dialog, even though it’s hard to get past the lameness of it all. In a nutshell, cars and hotties: Good. People trying to talk: Bad. Oh snap, inspiration has struck!: “Better Car Racing than Citizen Kane!” THAT should get me on somebody’s poster.
Bud's Second: 'Tokyo Drift' was much better than it had any right to be. This is the third in a series (never a good sign) aimed at the teenage male (again, rarely are classics produced that are targeted at this demographic). So that's two strikes right off the bat. But the car-racing was cool, and the style of racing they use, the whole drift thing, was fresh. Effects were well-placed and fit in with the action. And the short skirts were quite inspirational as well.
So what if the characters say stupid things, and do stuff that doesn't make any sense at all. This movie is for teens, and they say and do mostly stuff that doesn't make sense either. It's a solid fit!
Just one question: Chris, why were you the only one to stand up and holler at the movie screen when Sonny Chiba first appeared? You got a thing for asian guys?