THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT handily answers the question “What could be worse than 2 Fast 2 Furious?” Number three in the series is what franchises dub a “standalone” piece; chronologically, this third leg fits between what would become the 6th and 7th. But who cares? Rob Cohen, director of the first in the series, brought the hammer down: “If you were to just watch Tokyo Drift, you’d say ‘I never want to see anything related to Fast & Furious again.”
“I don’t need a computer to tell me about my throttle response”.
Other than a quick cameo from Vin Diesel at the finish, none of the original cast return as the auto action moves to Asia for reasons that are no more important than maybe someone thought “Tokyo” and “drift” sounded good together. Redneck American high school punk is banished across the Pacific to live with his dad, stationed in Japan. Faster than you can get furious for wasting your time he falls in with the regional cretin crowd (and their arsenal of scantily attired, built-for-speed babes) and the apparently fascinating method of “drifting” around corners at high speed. This novel move is due to the jam-packed nation’s narrow roads (and we presume higher test scores) cheat restless youth of the endless desert straightaways and L.A. boulevard bashups of the U.S. of Chevrolet.
There’s a decent number, “Six Days”, done by DJ Shadow behind the opening credits; the best thing in the film. The rest, apart from a few moments to ogle girls or cars (both models out of your pay-grade on Planet Reality) is a crashing drag, festooned with possibly the least exciting lead outside of a political debate in the casting of Lucas Black. The posturing and brake squeals are directed by Justin Lin, scripted by Chris Morgan. The $85,000,000 expended returned $158,965,000 worldwide, the lowest take in the series. The next entries were a major improvement.
Sample summations—–The Irish Times: “Sadly, as the film progresses, the foolish film-makers succumb to the fatal temptations of plot and dialogue.” Sacramento News: “worthless idiot-bait for those in the “No Fear” T-shirt crowd who can’t handle the mental challenge of playing Grand Theft Auto.” The Guardian: “The only Drift you’ll experience is the one towards sleep.” San Francisco Chronicle: “a lead actor who’s just a little too convincing at playing a dunce.”
With Nathalie Kelly (debut), Sung Kang (emotional underdrive), Brian Tee, Bow Wow as ‘Twink’ (don’t ask, really), Sonny Chiba, Brian Goodman. 104 minutes.