Monday, May 15, 2017

Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Welcome back to my latest entry going through the Fast and Furious franchise. Today I am covering the third movie in the series, 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (trailer). If you are going through my blog archives and am curious why there is no entry for 2Fast, 2Furious, that is because as I stated in my blog for the first film that is the only film in the brand that I loathe and do not own so I am going to pretend it does not exist.

-I always considered Tokyo Drift a side story in the F&F universe since Vin Diesel & Paul Walker’s characters take a backseat and this film focuses on one Sean Boswell (Lucas Black). After getting in a nasty wreck in a street race gone awry with high school rival Clay (Zachery Ty Bryan), Sean is sent packing overseas to live with his father (Brian Goodman) in Tokyo. Even in the Far East Sean cannot escape the thrills of the underground street racing scene after getting introduced to it by new friend, Twinkie (Shad Moss aka Lil Bow Wow).

-I ended up watching Tokyo Drift twice. The first time I watched it with the Giant Bomb staff commentary like I did with the first film, and the second time with director commentary from Justin Lin (Tokyo Drift marks the first of four straight F&F films that Lin directed). The Giant Bomb crew once again was a riot to listen to especially since GB head honcho Jeff Gertsmann flew nationwide to join up with the East Coast office’s crew to specifically watch this film with these guys. Jeff has a lot of awesome stories about relating to this film with his rambunctious street racing tales growing up and lays down some knowledge on drift culture and goes in depth on some car industry lingo when appropriate. Lin also had a lot of nonstop insight throughout and had a lot of love for the cast and I got a kick of his memory of car enthusiasts riding him on swapping out the engine of a Dodge Charger in order to make it drift-worthy. I also appreciated Lin explaining what it took to pull off and how grateful he was to get a certain cameo at the end of the film.

-The opening race scene where Sean and Clay race is awesomely cheesy where the two demolish a new expansion of residential areas under developmen. There is silly a BluRay GPS extra feature where each driver’s location is shown on an overlay map on the screen. I nodded along enthusiastically following the dots with intense driving action playing out to Kid Rock’s “Bawitaba” in the background.

-Tokyo Drift is the final movie in the franchise to have street racing be the primary focus of the film. Tokyo Drift’s hook on the racing is by introducing drifting to the street races. I recall being surprised at how the film made it seem like it was this revolutionary technique that was only applicable in Japan, but that was probably because I played too many driving videogames that had a drift feature such as various Need for Speed and Burnout games by 2006. Regardless, I loved how the film embraced drifting here by introducing the antagonist street racer of the film, DK aka Drift King (Brian Tee). He smokes Sean in an early race in the film as Sean is flummoxed at this radical new car technique, but luckily Han (Sung Kang) takes him under his wing and shows him the ropes at making him a master drifter in a well-produced montage.

-Spoilers ahead, skip this paragraph if you have not seen Tokyo Drift. Yes, Han makes his F&F debut in this film, and even though he bites the dust to set up the final act, Justin Lin loved the character so much that he brought him back for the next three films. When asked about this in interviews, Lin simply stated that F&F 4-6 all take place before Tokyo Drift. Sure, why not. That is fine, because Han is an awesome character and Kang nails his laid back role and even has a couple throwaway loose references in Tokyo Drift on how he use to ride with ‘The Family’ that formed in the following films so it all makes sense anyways. If you are new to the series and absolutely want to watch the films in the proper canonical order then the correct way to do so is starting off with the first two movies, then skip to four through six, but skip the post-credit scene at the end of six, then watch Tokyo Drift and then the F&F6 post-credit scene and continue on to seven and eight. If you can follow that, then you will be set and the timelines will all fall into place….I think.

-The two best scenes in the film are when Sean and Han have a serious life moment with rooftop soccer in the background and the final mountain-top race showdown between DK and Sean. It is appropriately ridiculous and filled with countless ‘yeah right’ drifts and stunts. This race went out of its way to show how advanced Japan cell phone tech was in 2006 by being able to live stream and broadcast the race with the latest flip-phones available at the time. Also, I hope you made the connection by now that F&F 4-6 all take place a couple years before the introductions of smart phones, so even though they are ubiquitous in those films, just think of them as alternate model flip-phones and avoid thinking twice about it. The race was the ultimate thrill ride and a fitting end to a surprisingly enjoyable film that did not prominently feature any of the cast from the first pair of films.

-There is a significant amount of extras on the BluRay, but unless you are seriously into car culture and drifting then you can easily skip at least half the extras. If you are a big gearhead, you will absolutely eat up Drift: Sideways Craze a one hour look at the pro drift racing scene and a few other shorter extras on drift culture. If I were to recommend just two of the 11 extra features (totaling around two and a half hours!), then check out Han’s Last Ride and Tricked Out to Drift. Those two extras break down the gang car chase scene and how the filmmakers modded the Dodge Charger in the film to make it drift-worthy. There is also a feature-length ‘Picture-in-Picture’ BluRay exclusive extra that combines all the extras and constantly switches between them all when appropriate throughout the film so that could be a better way to take in all the extra features, but I would rather suggest checking out the director commentary from Justin Lin instead.

-I still recall regretting going to the theater when initially seeing The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and thinking it was going to be a complete waste with none of the noteworthy cast in it. I was glad to be proven wrong. Tokyo Drift is far from the best film in the series, but I would still give it a strong recommendation because it is a fitting swan song for races and driving being at the forefront of the movies before the series transitioned into the over-the-top-yet-amazing-what-will-they-do-next CG experiences that we know them as today.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Dirty Work
Fast and Furious I-VIII
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hercules: Reborn
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Take Me Home Tonight
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Days of Future Past

No comments:

Post a Comment