Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: The Fast and the Furious – Tokyo Drift (2006)

‘What'd you expect? You didn't just play with fire, you soaked the matches in gasoline.”

Director: Justin Lin
Starring: Lucas Black, Bow Wow, Sung Kung, Brian Tee and Nathalie Kelley
Writer: Chris Morgan

Ah Tokyo Drift, you have nothing in common with the first two and yet this is where the franchise really starts to hit its stride. So this time we get all the car action, and car philosophy, and the wild parties just this time with a Japanese flavour. Time to break down the third movie and see how a third movie can be better than a first.

Now through out the movies I have two characters that battle for my attention. First is Dominic Toretto. I think I’ve summed it up in my review of the first Fast and Furious movie. It has to do with his charisma. The second character is first introduced in this movie, and yet again he oozes charisma, but one that is so laid back and happy with his place in the world you just want to be his friend. I’m speaking of Han as played by Sung Kung. Han is such a great presence I’m glad he was one of the things that carried through to the other movies. Speaking of great things Lucas Black as Sean Boswell impressed me greatly in the lead role. He’s a trouble maker, but a kid who wants to do well, he needs guidance. Thankfully both Sung and Lucas have a great chemistry which works well for the student mentor relationship.

If there is one step back in this movie, it would be the plot of the movie. Like the first movie the villain is kind of in the background, which does take some of the steam out of the movie at points. Thankfully it’s propped up by likable characters, and at least a bit more attention given to the villain DT (Brian Tee), which does mean you feel some of the tension in the final act. Plot wise it’s not a strong movie, but it just seems more accomplished than previous entries, so with any weaknesses it’s easier to bypass them and enjoy the movie.

With the change in location comes a change in visuals and style. Justin Lin creates some great set pieces that really get the action going, and while there is some CGI here, it’s not so apparent. Also with the introduction of Japanese Street Racing comes the introduction of Drifting. I got to say there is just something cool about drifting that always excites me, and as such I really dug a lot of the action in this movie. Also as for style, the extreme Japanese fashion/style, present in this movie really allows this movie to stand on its own. Justin Lin really does make this his franchise, and it’s no wonder he was brought back for the next two.

Really the biggest problem with this movie, other than really being nothing substantial, is how much of a lack of a link there is with the previous movies. There is something thrown in pretty ham fistedly, but other than this small tie there is nothing that the fans of the original can enjoy. Take away the one thing and give this movie another title and it would come off stronger as people wouldn’t be comparing this to the previous movies.

Honestly this is a positive step for the Fast and Furious, and made it a legitimate action franchise. If it wasn’t for Justin Lin the other two movies wouldn’t have been made. Is this movie perfect? Far from it, but it is fun, and thankfully it’s unique local and having more than a few charismatic actors really does make it one of those films you know isn’t good for you but you can’t help but like it.

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