Directed by Justin Lin
June 16, 2006
A troubled youth is sent to live with his father in Japan where he becomes embroiled in the local drift street racing scene because this is a Fast & Furious movie people.
This film, while I find it entertaining, has two main problems: they treat drifting as some kind of Zen spiritual thing. I say that is a problem because when they start in on it the discussion feels silly. It is just racing. You will not ascend to a higher plain of existence…unless you crash.
And second the film is largely unconnected to its then two predecessors other than a cameo at the very end by Vin Diesel that has no bearing on the story. This is due to them being unable to secure the return of any of the previous stars. Why invest in a soft reboot?
And this was definitely a soft reboot of the film series. You could watch the end and feel as if they were trying to hand off the movie to another actor or just perhaps make this a series set in random places about street racing. Whichever you buy into that concept would have killed the film series by the second film. There would be no way to build or grow a fanbase under those conditions.
I also draw issue with the relationship between the father and his son Sean (Lucas Black) or rather lack thereof. I have no real sense of what was going on between the two of them other than they had not seen each other in a while because the dad was stationed overseas. The father character was just there to give him an excuse to go away from home to a new country. Once introduced he pretty much vanished. I do not need conflict or deep moments but if you introduce a significant character, and a dad is, use them.
Tokyo Drift was a definite improvement over 2 Fast 2 Furious. The second film was just weak in comparison to the first film. There was a high level of street racing but a minimal amount of story with the whole reasoning behind the need for the racing being weak. Here there is a ton of street racing and a ton of story. In that aspect they returned to the series’ roots.
Tokyo Drift is definitely a crime film that tries to mimic what happened in the first movie more or less. We have gangsters in a crime story and I must say it works pretty well. There is a danger for the character of Sean once he crosses the path of Takashi.
Lucas Black takes the lead in this film as troubled youth Sean Boswell. One thing that bothers me in movies is that kids often look too old to be children. Sean has some crow’s feet here being that Black was in his late twenties, but the character isn’t too bad as he tries to charm the first pretty girl he comes across in Tokyo. Seriously.
Neela (Nathalie Kelley) is the girlfriend of Takashi (Brian Tee) who is a wanabee yakuza member using his Uncle Kamata’s (the legendary Sonny Chiba) reputation to bolster his own. Brian Tee is a great villain here. He is threatening but in the way a jerk that does not believe he will suffer consequences.
Uncle Kamata was not in very much of the film, but he was such a great character. Threatening without doing much that was threatening. Sonny Chiba is one of the greats. I would love to see more of his character in a future film.
Sung Kang makes his first appearance in the FF series (though he appeared in the film Better Luck Tomorrow)as fan favorite Han. The character is a charming bad boy yet is mostly harmless. Though a criminal, his schemes do not really seem to negatively affect anyone that does not deserve it. The character is buoyed by the natural charisma that Sung Kang has. Watch some of his other stuff and you cannot miss it.
Justin Lin and Chris Morgan give us a good film that just did not click with audiences that produced a character that was so popular that despite being killed here is being brought back in F9. How does that happen? This movie should have worked well enough given what we have seen down the line.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in the end is a good entry into the FF series. While its connection to the series is thin at best at this point it is worth a watch. Watch it!