FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT, THE
High school rebel and talented mechanic Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) is sent to live with his estranged father (Brian Goodman) in Tokyo, following a car chase that caught the eye of the police. Almost as soon as the young Alabaman has taken off his shoes to enter a new Japanese high school, he has stolen the heart of Aussie import Neela (Nathalie Kelley), incurred the wrath of her Yakuza boyfriend DK (Brian Tee), and embroiled himself in a criminal ring, under the tutelage of the helpful and charismatic Han (Sung Kang). Luckily for Sean, the method of conflict resolution in this part of Tokyo is drifting (driving fast ... sideways) and Sean is very much at home behind the wheel of a car, if not behind the shadow of a rice-paper door.
Review by Joel Meares:
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is a movie that should not talk. It is at its best when its characters are gritting and grinning behind dashboards and at its worst when they are philosophising about the seductive power of the drift. Its exposition, attempts at depth and humour, its hilarious take on father/son dynamics (Sean and dad bond restoring a car in a disastrous montage) are all mere pit stops in a race fast and furious enough not to require them. It is a film of soaring fuel-injected highs and plummeting people-fuelled lows. When the engines are roaring, director Justin Lin's movie is incomparably thrilling; but when the drivers start talking, yawn, it all starts to drift.
It must be acknowledged from the starting line that Tokyo Drift was written by monkeys. Three, to be exact. It is stuffed full of dialogue as trite as: "Why don't you nice boys let your cars do the talking?" As a precursor to a thrilling race, that will do, but the same clichéd sensibility informs the most (ostensibly) meaningful conversations of the film. I felt as if Knightrider was invading the OC. When discussing the pleasures of the drift, Neela confirms that, when drifting, all there is "is the moment". The monkeys must have been on holiday that day and the hippos did the job.
Luckily, dialogue is not the film's driving force. There is enough of it to be annoying, but not enough to be ruinous. The races are superbly redemptive. These cars swirl and twirl in a violent and inelegant ballet that is entirely arresting. The final race, down a curving mountain road, is as tense an action bonanza as any to have hit the screen this year, and Tokyo makes for a formidable track. Lucas Black is as solid as a rock, and required to be nothing more. Nathalie Kelley is stunningly beautiful, equally filling her obligations. Bow Wow, as the wisecracking Twinkie... well, I liked his green Hulk car.
The tagline for Tokyo Drift tells us that "Speed needs no translation". The movie tells us that speed needs no discussion.
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FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT, THE (M)
CAST: Lucas Black, Bryan Tee, Sung Kang, Zachery Ty Bryan, Brandon Brendel, Bow Wow, Leonardo Nam, Nikki Griffin, Sonny Chiba
PRODUCER: Neal H. Moritz
DIRECTOR: Justin Lin
SCRIPT: Alfred Botello, Chris Morgan, Kario Salem
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stephen F. Windon
EDITOR: Dallas Puett, Fred Raskin
MUSIC: Brian Tyler
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ida Random
RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 15, 2006