The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

UK release date: 16 June 2006

cast list

Lucas Black
Leonard Nam
Nathalie Kelley
Brandon Brendel

directed by
Justin Lin
If you’re considering driving home after seeing The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, be warned: you’ll experience an overwhelming temptation to drag race the car next to you, or overtake someone on a blind corner, or drift your car up the exit ramp. Heck, don’t even go shopping: you’ll be drifting the trolley into frozen foods quicker than you can say “Sainsbury’s”.

There is a token disclaimer at the end telling people not to try the stunts in this movie. Yeah, like that’ll work. Handbrake turns, bowel-wrenching manoeuvres, drifting across roundabouts – you’ll want to try them all, and to heck with the consequences.

Because there aren’t any in this movie. One of the characters crashes head on at 200kph and walks away. The Drift King drives off a hairpin band and lands vertically on the concrete below only to brush himself off, cursing. The opening sequence contains one of the most dramatic crashes on celluloid (with the possible exception of the Ferrari chase in Bad Boys 2), but the injuries are no more serious than a few cuts and bruises. Its the Tom and Jerry of car movies.

But who cares? The film has an interesting premise and it’s chock full of gorgeous cars crashing into each other at high speeds. Who needs believability when you can watch the spoiler of an EVO smashing through a windscreen? Or listen to the rumble of a Nissan Skyline? Or drool over the shark-like form of an old Mustang? There’s a serious adrenalin rush to watching beautiful cars getting absolutely trashed. As the lead character says in an inspired bit of scripting: “Yeeeha!”.

You’ll be saying the same by the end of the film, and that’s its selling point. So the plot is improbable (Sean Boswell, a hot-headed teenager who likes to race, gets in trouble with the law so his mother sends him to live with his dad in Tokyo. He manages to trash someone’s Mazda RX7, piss off the local Mafia and steal someone else’s girlfriend without so much as a fat lip). So the script contains embarrassing clichs like “When I drift, everything disappears” and “a car is a small price to pay to find out a man’s character”. So the hot cars are all draped with pre-pubescent Japanese girls who look like they shop from the Hello Kitty catalogue.

You won’t care. You’ll just be waiting for the sight of the next muscle car, accompanied by the sound of twisting metal and shattering glass. You’ll be laughing at the cheesy cultural references (“there’s no ‘wax-on, wax-off’ in drifting – you just have to do it”), and ahhing at CGI images of synchronised drifting on the roads high above Tokyo. You’ll be poking fun at the head of the Japanese mafia, who goes for the Godfather look but ends up closer to Columbo, or some of the hilarious over-acting (I particularly recommend Leonard Nam, who plays Morimoto – he’s bloody awful).

The point is, even when there are holes in the movie you could drive a Dodge Charger through, it’s still great fun. You get an interesting peep into the world of drift racing (which actually exists), there’s a good-looking lead actress (Nathalie Kelley as Neela), and hot cars. Lots of them. Smashing into each other.

In short, it’s better than 2Fast 2Furious (which was so bad it starred Paul Walker before he shot to B-movie stardom), and just as good as the original. Catch it at the cinema – the car smashes are so much better on the big screen. Heck, they should have it in IMAX.

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