Fast and Furious Retrospective: Part 3


I am not enjoying this so far. The first movie was a cheap Point Break knock-off and the second one a pale imitation of the first. At this point I have no idea what the grand appeal of this series is. But now I’m committed, I’ve got all the movies…time to push on.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Director: Justin Lin

Cast: Lucas Black, Nathalie Kelley, Sung Kang, Bow Wow, Brian Tee, Sonny Chiba

Plot: High school student Sean has a history of reckless driving, culminating in being sent to live with his father in Tokyo to avoid jail time. Once there he gets on the wrong side of a wannabe gangster and Sean must learn to ‘drift’ cars to get the edge of him.

Review: Where did everyone go? Paul Walker was the only original cast member to turn up in the second one and he’s vanished along with any ties to the original stories or settings. Aside from a singular cameo in the final scene there’s nothing to link this to any previous film and the only reason to include the ‘Fast and Furious’ in the title is for brand marketing.

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Instead of undercover cops and stunt driving hijackers we now have…an angsty teenager. This is not a step in the right direction. Apparently sending him to a school where he doesn’t speak the language is the key to improving his education. The set up here is almost as ridiculous as in the second film, and the plot that follows isn’t much better. It all boils down to a love triangle between Sean (Black), local tough guy Takashi (Tee) and Takashi’s girlfriend Neela (Kelley) that can only be resolved by driving colourful cars really fast.

One of my biggest complaints about the first film was that the races only comprised of determining who has the most expensive engine by driving them down a straight road. Gone is this repetitive sequence and with it the same turbo button resolution to every one of these races. Instead we have ‘drifting’, something that has since become a mainstay in video games and racing movies, and makes for some more interesting visuals. The movie is still bright and colourful but manages to be less cartoony than the previous. Less moments of atrocious CGI is a definite step in the right direction. 

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What doesn’t work as well are the new characters. Sean could be bland on an Olympic level, his love interest could be replaced with a lump of wood and no-one would notice and his rival is essentially a walking smirk. The only character who’s of any interest is Han (Kang), Sean’s mentor. He’s got something resembling depth and when he does what all mentors do the film becomes weaker for it. Sonny Chiba turns up for a small role, which is a nice note for film buffs but wouldn’t mean much to the younger target audience.

So this one manages to make the film more visually interesting…but balances this out with characters even more boring than O’Conner. Looking ahead this director helms the next couple of movies so at least we’ve got good visuals to look forward to, and the potato-headed guy popped up at the end. Maybe the next one is where it starts coming together.

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Oh, and the scene where Sean finally drifts and it goes all ‘chosen one’ is so cheesy it’s hilarious.

Rating: FOUR out of TEN

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