Vin Diesel has gotten good at creating action movies and then abandoning sequels as producers attempt to start a franchise. He jumped ship before the 2003 sequel to his The Fast and the Furious started filming and many expected the sequel to be a cut above “direct to video” movies. However, apparently neither the stupid 2 Fast 2 Furious title or Paul Walker’s acting could kill the growing franchise because the fast cars, hot women, and pumping music are back for a third go round, this time titled The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The third chapter leaves America, and with it the cast of the first two films, using the franchise name to tell the story of a new racer.
That new racer is Sean (Lucas Black of Friday Night Lights fame) who gets into a race against a jock at high school and winds up in a bunch of trouble. His parents aren’t as well connected as his opponents, meaning he’ll be the one to face the racing and property destruction charges left from the film’s opening high-octane race through a house -- construction site. Instead of heading to juvie or jail, Sean’s mother ships him off to Tokyo, Japan to live with his military father. A structured combination military and Japanese lifestyle isn’t about to stop Sean from racing however, and he quickly finds himself making the right and wrong kind of friends, diving headfirst into the underground world of racing, the yakuza, and the drift – a Japanese form of racing that accommodates the curves of parking garages and winding roads.
Anyone who heads into Tokyo Drift expecting world-class acting and drama is sadly mistaken. This movie is about living fast (and furious one would presume). It offers exactly what you’d expect: Fast races? Check – the adrenaline will be flowing through its tightly filmed and breathtaking race stunts. I keep the complaint I have about most combat scenes these days – the camera runs too tight to get a big picture idea of what’s going on, but most of the time that works to this movie’s advantage and is well used. Hot women? Check – if Asian women turn you on this is especially the movie for you, as they trope around in tight, tiny skirts and make out with each other. Female lead Nathalie Kelley joins the list of women I’d most like to see gracing the cover of Maxim soon. Loud music? Check – although for my tastes, the music could have been louder, especially during racing scenes. The sound editor chose to push the sounds of the vehicles (engines roaring, tires squealing, etc) over the music. Not a bad choice, but I think pushing the music up could have added even more to the movies incredible stunt sequences.
Tokyo Drift does suffer some minor flaws - resorting to stereotypical Yakuza connections in a Japanese set film, and some weak CGI effects (crowds, not racing) but with this type of movie who really cares? This is true summer popcorn at its best. Wave goodbye to Paul Walker and Tyrese, say hello to Lucas Black and Bow Wow and fasten your safety belt for the hottest new racing moves to ever hit the screen… until Fast and the Furious 4 comes out at least.