Universal // 2006 // 105 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Dan Mancini (Retired) // April 15th, 2009
If you ain't outta control, you ain't in control.
"The day I got my license is the day I got my first speeding ticket. Day after that I won my first race. I beat this rich kid by three lengths. I gotta admit it felt good." -- Sean Boswell
After being arrested for a property-damaging act of vehicular mischief, high school gearhead Sean Boswell (Lucas Black, X-Files: Fight the Future) is sent to Japan to live with his father. His transition into a regimented Japanese high school is rough until he meets American army brat and fellow car enthusiast Twinkie (Bow Wow, Carmen: A Hip Hopera), who introduces him to a wild form of racing called drifting. He also meets Neela (Nathalie Kelley, Young Americans), a hottie whose boyfriend Takashi (Brian Tee, Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation) is known in the Tokyo underground racing world as the Drift King. An automotive showdown between Sean and Takashi ensues in which Sean has his ass handed to him, destroying the car loaned to him by Takashi's business partner Han (Sung Kang, Live Free or Die Hard). Under Han's tutelage, Sean applies himself to mastering drifting. Tension between Sean and Takashi reaches a boiling point when Neela falls for Sean. Meanwhile, Takashi's uncle (Sonny Chiba, Kill Bill: Volume One) accuses Han of extortion, putting Sean's, Neela's, and Twinkie's lives in danger. There is, of course, only one way to settle things: a race. The loser leaves Tokyo forever.
I can't believe I'm about to write this about a movie in a franchise that is essentially a wall-to-wall collection of car races, but The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift's biggest problem is that it's too light on automotive action. Despite a demolition derby-like first-act race through a suburban construction site and Sean's first attempt at drifting against Takashi, the first hour of the movie is a slog. Key elements of the plot -- Sean's desire to learn drifting, Takashi's jealousy over Neela, the entire subplot involving Sonny Chiba -- don't emerge with any force until there's only around 45 minutes left in the picture. The first two-thirds of the movie meander so sloppily through Sean's acclimating to Japan and his budding friendships with Han, Twinkie, and Neela that I felt oddly cheated by the brevity of the requisite second-act montages in which he masters drifting and his team of gearheads assembles the car in which he'll take on Takashi in the final showdown. Worst of all, the races themselves are briefer and far less visceral and exciting than those in the previous two Fast and the Furious flicks.
Lucas Black is competent as Sean, his thick Southern drawl giving the character an interesting hook, but neither the character nor his screen presence are strong enough to carry the picture. If 2 Fast 2 Furious suffered from the absence of Vin Diesel, then Tokyo Drift suffers from the absence of both Diesel and Paul Walker. I didn't think a movie could suffer from Paul Walker not being in it, but Tokyo Drift proves me wrong. The Fast and the Furious may be a sometimes maudlin imitation of Point Break, but at least Diesel and Walker were an odd couple that butted heads in entertaining ways. Tokyo Drift's screenplay is so muddled and its characters so flat that Sean's relationships with Han and Neela have no real weight or intensity. In fact, they don't even benefit from an effective use of cheap and predictable clichés.
This Limited Edition of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is essentially a repackaging of the original DVD with a second disc that contains a digital copy of the movie and a few new, marketing-related extras. The video presentation is excellent. The transfer sports bold but accurate colors, detail as fine as standard definition allows, and no annoying video artifacts. The Dolby 5.1 audio track delivers full-throated eight-cylinder rumble, perfectly mixed music, and crystal clear dialogue.
Supplements from the original release include a mildly interesting audio commentary by director Justin Lin. There are also 11 mostly brief deleted scenes. The individually indexed clips come with a Play All feature and optional commentary by Lin.
Disc One also contains a small collection of production featurettes. "Drifting School" (7:39) is about the drift training the actors received before shooting the movie. "Cast Cam" (4:24) is a behind-the-scenes featurette shot with video cameras by extras and stuntmen in the film. "The Big Breakdown: Han's Last Ride" (8:30) is about choreographing and shooting the longest and most elaborate car chase in the movie. "Tricked Out Drift" (11:05) gives us a look at the cars in the film. "The Real Drift King" (3:42) is an introduction to stunt driver Keiichi Tsuchiya, a master drifter. "The Japanese Way" (9:49) gives the cast and crew the opportunity to talk about shooting in Tokyo.
There is also a music video for "Conteo" by Don Omar.
Disc Two contains a digital copy of the film, downloadable to you PC or MAC, as well as a few more featurettes. "Making the Fast Franchise" (17:04) is an electronic press kit for the first three movies in the franchise, plus a sneek peak at Fast and Furious. Originally produced for Discovery HD, Drift: The Sideways Craze is a one-hour documentary about the sport. It's also the best extra in this entire set.
All of the featurettes on both discs are presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen, except for Drift: The Sideways Craze, which is given the full anamorphic widescreen treatment and looks quite good.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is the least entertaining entry in a franchise built on mindless fun -- it packs in the mindless, but delivers little in the way of fun. This Limited Edition DVD is an unnecessary promotional item for Fast and Furious. If you already own Tokyo Drift on DVD, keep your money. If you don't, well, keep your money anyway.
Guilty as charged.
Review content copyright © 2009 Dan Mancini; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* Music Video
* Digital Copy