Monday, March 23, 2009

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

TFATF Omnibus continues! Tagline: On the streets of Tokyo, speed needs no translation. That right there gives you pretty much all you need to know about this film and how badly it sucks.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Director: Justin Lin
Starring: Lucas Black, Bow Wow

The worst entry in the series so far is inexplicably set in Tokyo, where Lucas Black's character Sean gets shipped off to Japan because...I have no idea. He gets in trouble for racing Brad from "Home Improvement" early in the movie (and CRASHING THROUGH A HOUSE that's under construction), and I guess that's enough to warrant a trip around the world. His Navy Dad (who works for the government - and is not a dark shade of blue) lives in Tokyo, scoring Asian hookers and generally being a waste of oxygen - so it comes as no surprise that his son is a total tool. Sean's eyes are opened to "drifting," a specialized style of racing that involves sliding around corners and using the emergency brake a lot, and immediately gets plugged into the underground scene even though his dad orders him to stay away from cars. There's a girl there, who happens to be the girlfriend of the baddest mofo in town. This kid (I'm not joking) goes by DK - the drift king. Naturally DK doesn't take kindly to this cowboy coming in and hitting on his girl, so a testosterone battle begins between the two dudes. You can only guess what happens from here.

The acting from Lucas Black is some of the worst that I've seen from anyone in a long time. I saw him in Friday Night Lights, and I don't remember being as shocked at his horrible accent as I was when I saw Tokyo Drift. Perhaps that's because in FNL he was in a Texas high school and surrounded by people who spoke the same way, so his voice didn't stand out like it did in Japan. Bow Wow doesn't help the credibility here, but I guess credibility was never a strong suit of this series. Where the heck does Bow Wow (I can't believe I'm typing that...again) get all those products from that he pawns off to the Japanese? Is he selling them at higher prices to make a profit? Why can't those kids just get the stuff from Amazon, then? And where are their parents? These jackholes are wandering the streets every single night causing trouble and getting into fights - even murdering someone in an explosion in the middle of a crowded plaza - and no law is brought into the movie at all. The only cop that is featured clocks some speeding racers and doesn't even bother to track them down. Apparently Japan is a lawless land, the new "Old West" if you will, where anything goes and only the fastest survive. All I'll say is that the acting here makes Paul Walker and Vin Diesel/Tyrese in the earlier film look like Jeff Goldblum and Denzel Washington. Take that as you will.

The camerawork is mundane, the story is piss poor, the music is awful, the set design was amateurish, and the direction is mediocre at best. Justin Lin has no sense of ownership of this franchise - he takes the pre-existing world of the first two and spits in its face, moving everything to Japan and not including any references (save for a three-second Vin Diesel cameo) to the other films. The whole movie is an exercise on how to ruin a franchise. It wasn't fun at all. The "action" was stupid and boring. The little magic left was lost.

Thankfully, the newest film looks much better than this piece of garbage. Even though Lin directs that one as well, at least it is back in America where the series belongs and reunites the cast from the original film. Expect that review sometime in early April. In the meantime, don't bother watching Tokyo Drift to prepare for Fast and Furious - the new film takes place in between 2 Fast 2 Furious and this one. Until next time...

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