I Watched The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift For The First Time And I Have Thoughts

Lucas Black as Sean behind the wheel in Tokyo Drift
(Image credit: Universal)

The saga continues as Sean makes his way to Japan for The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, and I’m here to tell you all my thoughts on this wild anomaly of a movie within the Fast franchise. When you look back at this interesting spin-off movie (that eventually works its way into the greater story) it’s one that fans seem to be torn on. While some reviews of Tokyo Drift are positive, others can’t stand it. Admittedly I fall in the middle. So, with that being said, let’s talk about this kind of wonky entry in the Fast and Furious franchise, and all the thoughts I had while watching it. 

Brian Tee and Nathalie Kelley looking at each other in Tokyo Drift

(Image credit: Universal)

The Mix Of Teens And Adults In This Movie Was Weird

I think if I would have seen this movie as a teen (or younger, I mean I was 7 when it came out) I would have thought the high schoolers hanging with the adults, drifting and getting in trouble would have been so cool. However, now, as an adult, I was so stressed the whole time. I’d like to illustrate said stress through a series of questions I pondered while watching the movie:

  • Where on Earth were these kids' parents? 
  • Why would these adults allow children to drift? You don’t want to be the one responsible for a kid getting injured because they did something illegal. 
  • There was one guy, an adult, dating one of the high schoolers, um…why? 

While I know that I need to suspend myself above reality while watching these movies, and not think too hard about the implications of their actions, seeing Neela and D.K. date was too much for me. He’s an adult and she’s a child. It was weird. 

Hulk van in Tokyo Drift

(Image credit: Universal)

I’d Like To Make This An Appreciation Post About Bow Wow’s Hulk Themed Mini-Van

The cars in this movie were camp and don’t try to fight me on this point, because we all saw Bow Wow’s Hulk-ed out mini-van. While all the cars were campy and over top, nothing beat the bright green, Hulk-inspired vehicle that Twinkie drove, and I loved it. The over the top-ness of these movies is what makes them so fun, and while there wasn’t as much amplified action this time (more on that later) the cars were tricked out to the max, and ridiculously cool. 

This point is made abundantly clear by the mini-van that has Hulk's hands punched into it, a purple fur interior, Hulk’s face on the front, and bristles on the top to imitate hair. According to The News Wheel, this car was a 2005 Volkswagen Touran (Typ 1T), and per Best Movie Cars the vehicle was inspired by director Justin Lin’s love for the Bruce Banner-based TV show. Overall, I love the campy car and all the hidden meaning behind it. I hope more outrageous vehicles like this one show up in future films. 

Sean and Twinkie looking at each other in Tokyo Drift

(Image credit: Universal)

The Theme Of Family Officially Emerged 

How To Watch The Fast Franchise In Order

As I drove through the first two Fast and Furious movies I was always wondering when the theme of family would explicitly emerge. Sure, it was always implied, but this franchise has made its brand family, so I was curious when the word would be obviously used. Well, it finally was in Tokyo Drift when Sean talked about the other drivers being his family. I always thought it would be Vin Diesel to make this point abundantly clear, but it wasn’t it was Lucas Black.

I realized while watching this third film that the first two were more about two characters, who do not get along at first, coming together to defeat a common enemy. However, this movie was a lot more about the ensemble and the team coming together to support Sean, you know, like a family.

Vin Diesel behind the wheel in Tokyo Drift

(Image credit: Universal)

My Level Of Excitement When Vin Diesel Showed Up Is Comparable To When The Spider-Men Showed Up In No Way Home 

If you read my 2 Fast 2 Furious thoughts you know I was big mad that my man Vin Diesel wasn’t in the movie. And when I found out no one from the original film would be in Tokyo Drift I wasn’t thrilled, because I love that cast so much. 

Seeing Dominic Toretto show up in the final seconds of Tokyo Drift literally made me do a fist pump and yelp with joy. Much like how I felt when the Spider-Men came through the portals in Spider-Man: No Way Home. I can only imagine what the crowd’s reaction was when they saw the leader of the Fast franchise show up to race the lead of the latest movie. After two movies without the lead and none of the knowledge I have about what’s to come in the next six(ish) movies, I bet this was such an amazing surprise, I know it was for me. Now, I cannot wait to see the gang all back together again in Fast and Furious

Han in foreground and Sean in background both sitting in a car in Tokyo Drift

(Image credit: Universal)

Han Was The Perfect Mentor For Sean

Knowing that Han is a fan favorite, and seeing his relationship develop with Sean was easily a highlight of this movie. Their relationship reminded me a lot of Mr. Miyagi and Daniel LaRusso’s in The Karate Kid, clearly, the movie realized that too as Sean did make a comment about “wax on, wax off.” 

While I know I complained about the combination of kids and adults earlier, this is the exception to the rule. Sean needed Han to become a better person, and seeing his car explode with him in it was gut-wrenching, because we had seen the two develop such a close relationship. 

I loved that Han took a risk on Sean and taught him how to drift, at the expense of a lot of his own cars, and I love how much they cared for each other. Their relationship helped illuminate this theme of family and support, and it’s something I really admired, and am excited to see continue as we continue to speed through this franchise (because I know Han's not really dead). 

One car drifting in a circle around another car in Tokyo Drift

(Image credit: Universal)

Less Drifting And More Jumping Please

Where Does Tokyo Drift Fall In Our Ranking?

If you read my The Fast And The Furious thoughts as well as my opinions on the sequel, you’ll know I love a big stunt. And sadly, while there was a lot of cool car action, there was nothing as massive and jaw-dropping as Dom hitting a semi or Brian jumping a car onto a yacht. 

While the drifting was cool, and quite impressive, it’s nothing like watching the big spectacles of action these movies are known for. I realized while watching this movie there is only so much drifting you can watch before it all kind of looks the same, at least to me, and because of that I’d like us to ditch the drift and go back to the jumps.

Other Thoughts

  • Sean was low-key giving Bully Maguire energy. 
  • The technology was very 2014 *wink, wink* 
  • Romantic drifting…what a concept. 

Conclusion: It was fast and furious, however not faster or more furious than The Fast and the Furious, and not as off the rails as 2 Fast 2 Furious, and therefore not as fun.

Now, that we officially have a Fast X trailer, I’m super excited to continue down this road to the highly anticipated film on the 2023 movie schedule. However, we won’t get to see that milestone of a movie until May 19, so in the meantime be sure to stay tuned to CinemaBlend to read our coverage for Fast X as well as all my thoughts on these speedy movies as I work my way through the Fast franchise’s wild timeline

If you are interested in watching The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, you can do so with an HBO Max subscription

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.