New reviews, interviews, and features via RSS or Email.

Sponsored Links

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

(2006) ** Pg-13
104 min. Universal Pictures. Director: Justin Lin. Cast: Lucas Black, Shad 'Bow Wow' Gregory Moss, Nathalie Kelley, Sung Kang, Brian Tee.

The first rule of a Fast and the Furious movie is that it have lots of death-defying racing scenes. The second rule is that it sells babes by the pound. The third rule is that it makes absolutely no sense. On these scores—the only ones that matter to its intended audience—The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift works like gangbusters.

With a title like The Fast and the Furious, the franchise has always begged to be a proper teen exploitation movie, and Universal finally obliges with the third in the series, directed by Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow). In true Hollywood tradition, the high schoolers are played by beefy and buxom actors in their mid-twenties.

Lucas Black (Friday Night Lights)—once the kid in Sling Blade—gets his first proper starring role (and does himself no favors) as Sean Boswell, a teen delinquent with a devilish smile. In the film's opening scenes, he declines to intervene when a classmate is attacked, so we know he's hardcore. Then, having not seen Stick It, Sean spectacularly races a testosterone-overdosed lunkhead (Zachary Ty Brian!) through an unfinished housing development, resulting Sean's single mom deporting her son to Tokyo to live with his Navy-lifer dad (Brian Goodman, who played the same role in Lin's Annapolis).

And it's bad-parenting awards all around, as Dad's parenting skills extended to sternly asking, "Have you been racing?" and then (I'm paraphrasing here) threatening, "One of these days, bang, zoom! You're going home to an American jail!" Of course, if Dad kept Sean from racing and—did I mention?—joining the yakuza, we would be deprived of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The title refers to the film's novel hook, a primer on a different style of drag racing: drift racing. Rubber burning, speeding cars slide in a kind of controlled spin-out in drift racing, which gaijin Sean learns (I guess he has seen Rocky) after an ignominious defeat in a Japanese garage; rematches are dutifully scheduled.

Sean learns the ropes from ex-pat Han (Sung Kang), a partner-in-crime to D.K., the "Drift King" (Brian Tee). By the grace of his yakuza-boss Uncle Kamata (Sonny Chiba!), D.K. operates some small-time crookery with Han, but a rift develops between the two, complicated by the mutual romantic interest between Sean and D.K.'s girl Neela (Nathalie Kelley). Completing the generic cast of characters is small-time operator Twinkie (Bow Wow), who becomes Sean's scrappy sidekick. The laughable plot is met with laughable dialogue, a lot of warm-and-bothered philosophizing ("All that matters is knowing what you really want and going after it") and smirking banter (accused by Neela of only caring about the size of the engine, Sean replies, "I'm a guy—it's in my DNA").

But it's all about the cars, and in this respect The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is on par with the rest of the series. Though incrementally more incoherent with each successive scene (check out the bit where Sean and Han drift donuts around two chicks in an intersection), the drift races are effectively pulse-pounding: it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and then it's off the hook! (Fast and the Furious fans—if there is such a thing—should stay firmly planted in their seats until the end-credit driving disclaimer—it's not over until the bald man purrs.)

Share/bookmark: Digg Facebook Fark Furl Google Bookmarks Newsvine Reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo! My Web Permalink Permalink

Aspect ratios: 2.35:1

Number of discs: 2

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Street date: 4/4/2009

Distributor: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Part of Universal's new The Fast and the Furious Trilogy Blu-ray package, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift proves to be another amazing A/V transfer, with a spotless, crsiply detailed, vividly colorful picture and potent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound. For ease of viewing, Universal includes a second disc with a Digital Copy.

Several new bonus features grace the Blu-ray edition. Aside from My Scenes bookmarking and a BD-Live hookup, you''ll find four U-Control features, two featurettes, and an interactive car designer. In U-Control, there's a Storyboards option, GPS mapping for the climactic race through Tokyo, Tech Specs option for stats on the hot rods and a tally of insurance damages (!) as the film proceeds; there's also a Picture-in-Picture track compiling more interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

"Making of the Fast Franchise" (17:02, HD) director Rob Cohen, Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, producer Neal H. Moritz, director John Singleton, Eva Mendes, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, director Justin Lin, Lucas Black, stunt driver Tanner Foust, Nathalie Kelley, stunt coordinator/2nd unit director Terry J. Leonard, tech consultant Toshi Hayama, Bow Wow, and Sung Kang

The new documentary "Drift: A Sideways Craze" (1:00:00, HD) features first national drifting champion Samuel Hubinette and professional drifter Ken Gushi.

Custom Made Drifter allows the viewer to select paint, wheels, and highlighting to create a hot rod.

The Blu-ray also compiles most of the bonus features from the previous DVD issue, beginning with a feature commentary by Justin Lin. Eleven "Deleted Scenes" (18:16, SD) also come with optional commentary by Lin.

"Drifting School" (7:35, SD) takes us behind the scenes of the actors' driving training. Interviewees include Brian Tee, Black, Lin, lead stunt driver Rhys Millen, Bow Wow, Zachery Ty Bryan, Kelley, and Kang. In "Cast Cam" (4:19, SD) Leonardo Nam shows us around the set.

"The Big Breakdown: Han's Last Ride" (8:26, SD) details the filming of the film's pivotal chase sequence, with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Lin, director of photography Stephen F. Windon, Leonard, Millen, Foust, Hubinette, and picture car coordinator Dennis McCarthy. "Tricked Out to Drift" (11:00, SD) takes an enthusiastic look at the cool cars used in the film. Participants include McCarthy, Kang, Lin, Black, Leonard, Millen, Bow Wow, Kelley, Tee, Foust, and Hayama.

"Welcome to Drifting" (6:17, SD) is a primer with comments from Lin, Hayama, Leonard, Foust, Millen. "The Real Drift King" (3:38, SD) profiles stunt driver Keiichi "The Drift King" Tsuchiya; Tsuchiya, Leonard, and Lin participate.

"The Japanese Way" (9:45, SD) explores the influence of Japanese culture when shooting on location. Interviewees include Lin, costume designer Sanja Hays, Leonard, 1st assistant director (Japan) Taniguchi Masayaki, production assistant Jimmy Tagashi, Windon, Black, 1st assistant director Gary Marcus, Kelley, Nam, and Tee. Two Music Videos (by Don Omar and Far'East Movement) and a Soundtrack Spot (7:57 with "Play All" option, SD) round out the disc.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

Share this review:
Share/bookmark: Digg Facebook Fark Furl Google Bookmarks Newsvine Reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo! My Web Permalink Permalink
Sponsored Links