The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Alabama, 17-year old high school student Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) and Clay (Zachery Ty Bryan) race their cars to win Clay’s girlfriend Cindy. During a high speed turn the pair both crash; Clay’s affluent family sees him escape punishment, but Sean’s numerous past criminal activities causes his mother to send him to be with his father in Tokyo.

At his new school, Sean meets a fellow American named Twinkie (Bow Wow). Twinkie introduces Sean to Tokyo’s drift racing scene. Sean has a confrontation with Takashi (Brian Tee) – also known as “Drift King” or DK – over Sean talking to DK’s girlfriend Neela (Nathalie Kelley), resulting in DK challenging Sean to a race. DK’s friend Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang) lends Sean a car for the race. DK easily beats Sean due to his inexperience at drifting, and Sean wrecks Han’s car. The following day, Han tells Sean that he must work for him as payment for the damaged car.

Sean and Han become friends, with Han teaching Sean how to drift and lending him another car for future races. Han explains that he is helping Sean because Sean is the only person willing to stand up to DK. Sean later moves in with Han and soon masters drifting, gaining some reputation after defeating DK’s right-hand man, Morimoto. Sean soon asks Neela out on a date, and learns that after her mother died she moved in with DK’s grandparents resulting in her hooking up with DK. DK beats up Sean the next day, telling him to stay away from Neela; Neela leaves DK and moves in with Sean and Han.

DK’s uncle Kamata (Sonny Chiba), a high-ranking member of the local yakuza, informs DK that the business is not meeting expectations, and DK realizes that Han has been stealing from him. DK and Morimoto confront Han, Sean, and Neela about the thefts. Twinkie causes a distraction allowing Han, Sean and Neela to flee, pursued at high speed by Morimoto and DK; Morimoto crashes his car and is killed, and Han dies when his vehicle explodes after being hit by another car.

Sean and Neela escape to his father’s home, followed by DK. Neela leaves with DK to avoid a fight, and Sean’s father demands that Sean return to the United States; Sean insists on staying. Sean returns the stolen money to Kamata and proposes a race against DK to determine who will leave Tokyo. Kamata agrees and sets the race take place on DK’s mountain. The next day, Sean finds that the police have confiscated all of Han’s cars. Sean and Han’s friends build a new car using Sean’s father’s old car and the engine from Han’s beat-up car.

On the mountain, crowds gather to see the race; Kamata arrives with Neela. After the race starts, DK takes the lead, but Sean’s training allows him to equal DK. DK resorts to ramming Sean’s car, eventually missing and driving off the mountain while Sean crosses the finish line. Kamata keeps his word and lets Sean remain in Tokyo.

Later, Sean, now the Drift King, is challenged by an unnamed driver: Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel).

REVIEW:

This past Thanksgiving, we lost the star one of the stars of The Fast & the Furious franchise, Paul Walker. With film #7 in production, it remains to be seen what will become of his character. All that aside, it would appear that The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is not the third film in the series, chronologically, but the final film, as of now.

What is this about?

The hit franchise’s third installment finds street-racer Shaun Boswell moving to Tokyo, where he’s been dispatched by his family who want to keep him out of lockup. Boswell soon hooks up with a fellow American who introduces him to drift racing.

What did I like?

New blood. After the first couple of films, it was nice to introduce an entirely new batch of characters and even give us a new setting. Keep in mind this is before the franchise took off the way it has with the last couple of entries. No one from the first films is anywhere to be seen or mentioned, until the final shot when we get a cameo from Vin Diesel’s character which ties the film to the franchise, rather than allow for it to just be a random street racing flick.

Consequences. In the first scenes, we see our star, Lucas Black, get into race with Zachary Ty Bryan’s (remember him from Home Improvement?) character, only to end up crashing his car, destroying a housing development, and getting picked up by the police. While down at the station, we learn that Bryan and his girlfriend are going to away without any kind of reprimand, whereas Black is about to be sent to juvie, if not for his mother intervening and sending him to Tokyo so that he live with his father. What is remarkable about this is that usually the character will end up back where things belong after a scene or two, but in this case, he actually pays for his crimes by being shipped to another country!

Cars. In a film like this, you can about imagine that the cars are the focal point. These magnificent machines are pushed past their regular limits with these supped up engines. Throw in the redesigned chassis (looks out for the Hulk shaped one…complete with hair), and even if you’re not a car person, you can’t help but be blown away by the creativity and new found abilities of the cars and, to a lesser extent, their drivers.

What didn’t I like?

Yakuza. Why is it everytime we have a film that is set in Japan, they have issues with the Yakuza? Can’t it just be a random thug? It isn’t like every film set here in the U.S. deals with gangbangers. So, why do filmmakers pigeonhole the Japanese like that? I think bringing in the Yakuza was a mistake here. A mention that the father of the antagonist was Yakuza was fine, but to bring in the entire Japanese mob was unnecessary.

Weak. Lucas Black just is not leading man material. I hate to say that, but it is true. Go back and look at him in Friday Night Lights. The guy has no charisma and you have a hard time believing that he could be a quarterback. Yet, if you see him in 42 he shines in a supporting role, but still has no real charisma. Basically, it is a good thing that they aren’t handing the franchise over to him. That may turn out to be a death sentence.

Death. I won’t say which one, but a major character is killed. Now, the way he is killed is supposed to tug at some heartstrings, but it doesn’t, which is a shame. Also, if you stuck around for the end of Fast & Furious 6, then you can sort of get the timeline of this. I highly doubt that was what these writers had in mind when they originally blew him up, but hey it works for the overall picture, but at the time when this was released it just seemed like they were just trying to pull teeth in terms of connecting with the audience.

When it comes to this franchise, The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift is considered the weakest of them all. Everything that had been built up in the previous two films was all but forgotten in this one. Thank goodness for Vin Diesel’s cameo in the final scene, as I sad before, which brings about a sort of validation for the film. There are some exciting racing scenes, but that’s par for the course with this franchise, so did you expect less? If you are looking to get started with The Fast & Furious franchise, then go back to The Fast & the Furious, rather than making the mistake of starting with this one, as it will do nothing but turn you off of it before you can get started. In the end, this is an ok film, but nothing to rush out and go see. If this is your thing, check it out. Otherwise, don’t waste your time and move on to the next entry in the franchise.

3 out of 5 stars

Advertisements

One Response to “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”

  1. […] seemed that after the dismal reception to The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift, this franchise was dead. Not so fast, my friends! Vin Diesel returns and the ‘the’ is […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: