The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift
5 out of 10
"Tokyo Drift" returns to the original formula of "The Fast and the Furious": hot cars, hot babes and lots of car racing. John Singleton's attempt to expand the format in "2 Fast and 2 Furious" has been abandoned. The distraction of crime-fighting has been removed and instead we get the downtrodden hero perseveres, becomes great, gets the girl and the good life'.
The hero in this case is Boswell (played by Lucas Black), who is sent to Tokyo to complete his senior year and to avoid a jail sentence for a street-race gone bad. He ends up living with his military officer uncle and going to a Japanese-language school (no english-language schools in Tokyo?). There he meets the gorgeous half-Japanese Neela (Nathalie Kelley) and the army brat hustler Twinkie (Bow Wow, who used to be Little Bow Wow), who takes him for a ride in his pimped out VW van (which is too weird to be anything but product placement run amok).
Twinkie shows him is a form of illegal street racing called 'drift racing', which translates as 'barely controlled slides around corners at top speeds'. Drifting is king in this film and is inserted into the film repeatedly, including some almost balletic sequences involving multiple cars following each other closely on hairpin courses. There are also plenty of more normal racing sequences that combine drifting and speed for the car enthusiasts.
Sean is taken in hand by Han (Sung Kong), who lets him trash an awesomely expensive car trying to beat the villain DK (Brian Tee) who also happens to be Neela's boyfriend and a junior gangster. Han, who is engaged in some unspecified but profitable criminal endeavors with DK, takes Sean under his wing, explaining that trashing the car was worth it in order to test's Sean's character. The storyline is littered with such little unbelievable bits which eventually pile up in your face (the top model party being the worst). If you wish to enjoy this movie, just ignore them and go with the flow.
"Tokyo Drift" takes a violent turn when DK's Yakuza uncle Kamata (the ubiquitous Sonny Chiba) gets involved. More racing and a little violence ensues, in which Sean's uncle saves his neck. The story builds to a showdown between Sean and DK involving an exhilarating nightime race down a very winding mountain road with Tokyo and the girl being the stakes. Guess who wins?
The gorgeous eye candy in 'Tokyo Drift' reaches the level of overkill. I can just imagine someone in Universal Studio's marketing department saying "whatever you do, make sure there's a lot of hot chicks." The abundance of beauty (or is that booty) more than obscures the small attempts by the producers to discourage street racing, which include a couple of nasty crashes, a dream-like sequence where Sean miracuously fails to plow into a crowd of pedestrians and an ending credit warning. Given the choice between warnings and beautiful girls, your average young male will choose ... hmm, I wonder.
Rating this film was rather difficult. If you are a male in your late teens or twenties and you like car flicks, you will definitely enjoy "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift"; if you don't fall into that category and refuse to suspend your sense of disbelief, you probably won't enjoy it.
Hot cars, hot babes and lots of car racing
Film Critic: Douglas A Gunter