Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) Review:

When franchises start with a strong footing in film, it is important to keep the elements that made the first installment just as great in every shot for each future installment that comes along. This includes direction, cinematography, action, music and characters. The writing behind the sequel should really be the only thing that changes because if the writing were the same, it would just be a rehash of previous movies in the franchise. For the most part, this sequel gets a number of the components right but there are also parts of the movie that are dislodged from the past films.

As if we haven't seen a duo like this in 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Starting totally fresh with an entire new cast, viewers will follow the troubled life of Sean Boswell (Lucas Black), a Southern schoolboy who loves to drive cars to their limit. He also can't cut a break with the authorities or doing well in school. After relocating several times, Sean's mother decides to send him to his father who lives in Tokyo Japan. However, Sean still can't keep his hands off a steering wheel. He ends up befriending a classmate named Twinkie (Bow Wow), who then brings him to street race where he learns a new word called "Drifting" - thus the title. Along with Twinkie, Sean also meets D.K. (Brian Tee), Han (Sung Kang) and Neela (Nathalie Kelley).

Character wise, none of the actors are terrible but they do lack characterization and acting skills. Lucas Black can handle a Southern accent (unless that is his real voice) but displays that smirking and frowning are his only two facial expressions. Bow Wow is just a replacement for Tyrese Gibson. Neela is supposedly Australian but slips frequently in speech. Sometimes she'll sound Australian and other times like some other ethnic group. She was the weakest of the bunch - I guess this because this is her first movie role? Brian Tee was able to pull of his role with ease for his muscular physique and gangster like image. Sung Kang is the most likable actor here. His character is smooth and easy going. In some respects, you would think he should've been in the title role.

Han the chill man
As far from the last two films have come, surprisingly, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) does have a connection. It is a very small but significant connection. Chris Morgan's writing behind this installment isn't bad when it comes down to the fleshed out action scenes but again it's the characters that suffer. It's understandable that The Fast and the Furious franchise is about the cars, but audiences have to have characters to connect to. If the cast keeps changing frequently, it's going to get really tiresome.

Thankfully the one thing that keeps getting more creative are the driving sequences. In other words, the "drifting". If it weren't for the drifting in the action sequences, there would not have been anything new to see here. Although the racing wasn't as crazy as The Fast and the Furious (2001) and 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), the slick driving and stylish craft of drifting really helped make the racing scenes fun. Stephen F. Windon's cinematography is able to catch a lot of the nice shots of Tokyo, which is also cool. Lastly, another composer was brought in, this time Brian Tyler. Surprisingly, Tyler's score is barely prevalent in the running time. It's not that Tyler created a bad score, it's just barely there. Perhaps the finale is when it's heard the most. Other than that, the soundtrack takes over. After the last two films, score collectors are still waiting to hear some noteworthy tunes.

It's an equal match to the 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) but for different reasons. It's new hook which involves "drifting" is cool, some of the characters stand out and it shares a connection with the last two films before it. With it however, comes weak characterizations, average acting and little emotional attachments.

Points Earned --> 6:10

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