The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift - Review
Review by Jack Foley
THE Fast & The Furious may have lost its two original leading men, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, but the franchise shows no sign of running out of gas just yet.
Tokyo Drift is the third film in the series and it’s a shamefully enjoyable high-speed romp that delivers cheesy thrills by the bucketload.
Lucas Black stars as Sean Boswell, a charismatic outsider who continually lands himself in trouble with the authorities for illegal street racing.
Faced with the choice of prison or moving to live with his estranged father in Tokyo, Japan, Sean opts for the latter but struggles to adapt to life as a “gaijin” (outsider) until a fellow American student, Twinkie (Bow Wow), introduces him to the underground world of drift racing.
It’s only a matter of time before Sean faces a new kind of trouble posed by his rivalry with local champ and Yakuza connected DK (Brian Tee) over both their driving skills and passion for Neela (Nathalie Kelly).
It is left to Han (Sung Kang), another ex-pat, to act as a mediator until Sean is ready to face off against DK in a high-stakes face-off following an explosive chain of events.
Plot-wise, The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift barely gets out of second gear, while it comes to a screeching halt whenever characters open their mouths.
The script is over-laden with philosophical musings about what it means to drift, the importance of fitting in and lines which start with, “there’s an old Japanese saying…”
A supposedly romantic interlude in which Neela recounts her past to Sean while leading a pack of drifters around the mountains outside Tokyo is simply embarrassing.
But the film does deliver during its numerous racing sequences, successfully providing a fascinating insight into the Japanese underground culture of drifting.
Far removed from the American ideal of drag racing, drifting involves travelling around twisting, complex courses at high-speed, while putting your skills with the wheel and the handbrake to the ultimate test.
Director Justin Lin has clearly done his research and enables viewers to get a breathless insight into what it takes to succeed.
Hence, having opened the film with a bone-crunching face-off between Sean and an American challenger, Lin then proceeds to inject proceedings with plenty of drift sequences that inevitably involve a pumped-up soundtrack and plenty of scantily clad Japanese women.
The result is a guilty pleasure that provides a shamefully enjoyable piece of brain-dead fun.
Of the performances, Black does a credible job of moving the franchise forward – although he lacks the cool of Steve McQueen despite being given a Mustang to play around with – while Tee’s villain is laughably one-dimensional. Most of the charisma comes from Kang’s ex-pat, Han, who is the only one to really hint at any character depth.
But like most of its characters, the film is ultimately more interested in racing than anything else and makes sure to keep things moving as quickly as possible with some truly impressive action, as well as a tongue in cheek cameo from an old favourite.
Hence, this third Fast & The Furious drifts along in such enjoyable fashion that it easily surpasses the limited charms of John Singleton’s second movie in the series.
Running time: 104 minutes