THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO
Okay, I get it. The kids these days are
into street racing. The faster the car goes, the cooler the driver,
right? At least that seems to be an underlying message in movies like
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS and it's sequel 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS.
The first film was fairly entertaining, and seemed to do an effective job
taking us into that world. It's star Paul Walker returned for the second
installment, which to date I have never seen. Now there's a third
outing, featuring all new characters, and a rather unique setting.
film opens introducing us to Sean Boswell (Lucas Black), a cast out student in
a rich kid-heavy American high school. When an impromptu car race
against a cocky jock goes horribly wrong, Sean finds himself looking at a
possible jail sentence. He is sent to live with his Navy father (Brian
Goodman) in Tokyo, Japan. Upon attending a new school there, Sean meets
another student named Twinkie (Bow Wow) who has quite a few connections, and a
beautiful classmate named Neela (Nathalie Kelley). It isn't long before
he discovers an underground racing movement, which many of his schoolmates are
involved in. He discovers that Neela belongs to the star racer DK (Brian
Tee), and Sean finds himself sucked into it all by one of DK's friends named
Han (Sung Kang). But this racing world is much different. Everyone
is into something called "drifting", in which cars are used to skid and slide
their way through courses, rather than just drive in straightforward fashion.
Sean's father doesn't approve of his son going right back into racing, and
threatens to kick him out if he doesn't shape up. But matters get worse
when DK begins to develop some serious animosity toward this new kid on the
block. If Sean hopes to keep up with his new adversaries, he must learn
the art of drifting, which may be much more challenging and dangerous than
anything he's ever done.
is certainly not a thinking man's movie, but it's pretty darn entertaining
nonetheless. Director Justin Lin (ANNAPOLIS) handles the fairly
simple story with great pacing and effective intensity, and it all makes for a
pretty enjoyable ride. The stars here are mostly unknowns, with the
exception of Bow Wow, and Lucas Black, who many know best as the little hick
kid from SLING BLADE. I was initially concerned about Black's
noticeably thick Southern accent, but he actually does a fine job playing the
underdog hero. In many ways he's more effective as a lead than Paul
Walker was in the first film. Despite him being less than aggressive
when not behind the wheel, he's the kind of character you want to see win.
Bow Wow also does a good job of playing Sean's buddy, even though it's more
than a little unusual that a character like that would be in Tokyo at all.
One new face to look out for is Nathalie Kelley, who is absolutely stunning.
She only has select moments of good character development, but a face like
that is bound to be in many more films. Sung Kang is one of the best
characters in the film, as the somewhat confused Han. He actually the
most layered character in the film, and very likable as a result. Brian
Goodman has a few nice moments as Sean's distant father, even if he's
essentially playing the exact same character he portrayed in ANNAPOLIS
earlier this year. Brian Tee comes dangerously close to overplaying the
villainous DK. His mugging for the camera gets to be a bit much, but as
a bad guy he still works.
a nice extended cameo by the great Sonny Chiba as DK's powerful uncle, and a
rather fantastic cameo by a very familiar face at the end of the film, which
unfortunately is being greatly spoiled in the movie's TV spots. I
particularly enjoyed the various moments of culture shock that Sean encounters
when first hitting Tokyo. It's that kind of "fish out of water"
storyline that makes underdog stories work. The racing scenes are
nothing short of phenomenal. Where the first film implemented several
special effect shots to convey the extreme situations, this one keeps it real
with its action. Almost all of the car stunts were actually performed by
professional drivers, and it adds a nice layer of realism that ultimately
helps make the film so exciting. I think like many I was skeptical that
this film was even worth doing, but in the end it's a really fun movie, and
(hopefully) the perfect way to end the series. In fact it may just be
the best of the trilogy in terms of overall satisfaction. Granted, I
haven't seen the second installment, but from what I've heard I didn't miss
much. If you like fast cars, or just exciting movies, this is one of the
better films you'll see this year... believe it or not! It's kind of
like THE KARATE KID, only with cars. Ralph Macchio would be
BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of
1 to 10, 10 being best, I give THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT a
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