The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
has all the elements that spelled success for its predecessors: Speed, sex, and minimal dialogue. The plot doesn't need explication; it's a nonsensical series of confrontations and standoffs that serve to get us from one race to another. Tokyo Drift
can most accurately be described as a visual poem about screeching tires, crunching fiberglass, and sleek female skin, set to a killer soundtrack of Japanese pop and hip-hop. The actors are only needed for tight close-ups of narrowed eyes or sweaty hands tightly gripping gearshifts, though Sung Kang, Better Luck Tomorrow,
stands out as a vaguely philosophical hoodlum with deadpan charisma. The curved bodies of the cars and the luscious flesh of the women are both shot with a fetishistic hunger. The "drift" style of racing--in which the cars are allowed to slide in order to take sharp turns at high speeds--grabs your eyes; there's a strange, spectral beauty to rows of cars sliding sideways down a mountain road at night. Also starring Lucas Black (Friday Night Lights
) as our wheel-happy hero; Bow Wow (Roll Bounce
) as the scam-artist comic relief; and martial arts legend Sonny Chiba (Kill Bill
) as a yakuza big shot. --Bret Fetzer
Fleeing troubles at home, a sensitive American rebel finds himself caught up in the exciting world of underground drift racing in Tokyo. The third in the wildly popular Fast and the Furious
series--a hybrid of fast cars, hot teens, and fetishized technology--gets a new jolt of energy and style courtesy of young hotshot director Justin Lin, who won raves at Sundance in 2002 for his look at Asian-American teens in Better Luck Tomorrow.
Leading man in training Lucas Black stars as sensitive rebel Sean Boswell, who, despite hailing from the poor section of town, vamps up his used car to drag race against the best of them. After numerous racing challenges won--including one against his high school's popular, wealthy quarterback--Boswell gets in trouble with the law one too many times. To escape confinement to a juvenile detention center, Boswell's military father ships him all the way across the world, to that most futuristic, tech-savvy of cities, Tokyo. There, he meets his match in the powerful, cruel D.K. (Brian Tee), who is not only the car racing star of the Japanese underground, but also related to several dangerous Yakuzas (gangsters). Complicating matters is Sean's undeniable (and mutual) attraction to D.K.'s gorgeous girlfriend Neela (Nathalie Kelly). The racing style, he soon learns, is very different in this strange land--a practice known as "drifting" that is more elegant and virtuostic than American-style demolition. Yet if anyone can take on D.K. and his band of Yakuza yeomen, it's this racecar rebel. All the pieces of the action movie puzzle, including sexy stars, nonstop action, and heart-stopping thrills, combine with a stylish aesthetic and energetic soundtrack to make another fine addition to a fantastic franchise and director Lin is adept at rendering Tokyo a full-dimensional, culturally rich location, rather than a video game backdrop.