by Russell Jaslow
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Starring Lucas Black, Bow Wow, Nathalie Kelley, and Sonny Chiba
Directed by Justin Lin
Champ Car fans have been introduced to the Drifting craze by the various exhibitions held in conjunction with Champ Car events, starting with the 2005 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Thus, will Champ Car fans take to the latest installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise which focuses on the drifting world instead of the usual street racing scene? It's no Grand Prix or Le Mans. But, it's also no Driven, which is a good thing.
When I first heard they were coming out with a third The Fast and the Furious, my first thought was how often is a second sequel worth seeing. (Anybody remember Jaws 3D? Whoops, sorry for bringing up that bad memory...) Well, Tokyo Drift is not like that. It certainly isn't a cinematic masterpiece, but it is harmless entertainment. And, there's nothing wrong with that.
The movie has everything Champ Car fans like -- fast high-tech turbo cars, wheel to wheel racing, exciting camera angles (the shots of the climactic race are breathtaking, literally), street festival-like setting, and plenty of scenery (and, I'm not just talking about the city of Tokyo backdrop; nudge, nudge, wink, wink).
Sure, you have to stretch your believability a bit. Sometimes even put your realism aside. Though they at least do show cars getting damaged every time they hit an immovable object, watching a car fly through a partially built house and still run after landing is a but much. And, anybody who has ever been to downtown Tokyo knows that no matter what time of day or night it is, there is no way you can possibly drive a car much more than 30 mph (if you are really lucky), never mind race through the streets at full tilt.
The plot, well, the plot is much like any other car movie plot going back to before the days of Elvis Presley car films. Boy meets girl who is already attached to rival. Boy tries to get girl causing major fracas. Boy challenges rival to whatever contest the movie is about -- in this case, a drifting race. Everybody shows up to watch said race. It follows Hollywood formula to a tee.
The plot is not the point of this movie (thankfully). It is the action and cars, as well as good looking guys and sexy gals. And in this particular case, the music as well. Your enjoyment of this DVD is enhanced tenfold if you have a surround sound system.
I always enjoy DVD features explaining how certain action scenes and special effects were done, and how the actors trained for their role. The recently released DVD (available in full screen, wide screen, and HD versions) did not disappoint me in this regard. It also has a feature about the original Drifting King, Keiichi Tsuchiya, who has a cameo role in the film as the fisherman on the pier. There is also an online game.
Don't take this movie too seriously or try to dissect it too much. Take it for what it is, and you'll be entertained for a couple of hours.
Copyright © 2006 by Russell Jaslow and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.