Racing Movie Month: "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" Review

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Nabbed for illegal street racing, an American teen (Lucas Black) agrees to live with his father in Japan instead of being sent to juvenile hall. There, he is drawn into Tokyo's underground racing scene, where he must master the art of drifting, a dangerous driving technique that allows a car to take hairpin turns with a sideways slide. Directed by Justin Lin, the second installment in the high-octane action series also stars Nathalie Kelley, Bow Wow, Zachery Ty Bryan & Sonny Chiba.
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Rating: PG-13
Length: 104 minutes
Release Date: June 16, 2006
Directed by: Justin Lin
Genre: Action / Crime / Drama

The adrenaline-pumping franchise that forever changed the action genre returns in the 2006 film "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift." Sean Boswell, a teenager from Alabama who has a knack for illegal street racing, is sent to live in Tokyo with his father when he gets in trouble with the law. There, he meets some new friends and discovers the exciting world of drifting, but he gets in over his head when he gets on the bad side of the mafia-affiliated Drift King. This action-packed film focuses more on the cars and races than it does on the plot and characters, which is just what audiences love about films of the "Fast and the Furious" franchise.

Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) is a fast-talking teenager from Alabama who has been moving from city to city with his divorced mother. When he finds himself in California, he gets into a fight with tough guy Clay (Zachery Ty Bryan), and the two decide to settle their differences by duking it out on the road. In a high-speed race against Clay's Dodge Viper, Sean crashes and totals his own car near the end. Already unpopular with the local police, Sean's only opportunity to avoid jail time is to get out of the country. He moves to Tokyo, Japan to be with his strict military father, and a new adventure begins.

In Tokyo, Sean begins going to a local high school where he meets Twinkie (Lil Bow Wow), an army brat who shows Sean the drifting scene while showing off his own high-class vehicle. Sean meets a beautiful girl named Neela (Nathalie Kelley) who happens to be the girlfriend of the Drift King (Brian Tee), also known as DK. When DK confronts Sean about flirting with his girlfriend, the two begin exchanging insults. DK challenges Sean to a race, and a driver named Han (Sung Kong) hands Sean the keys to his car. Sean ends up crashing Han's S15, but he is drawn to the sport of drifting. He continues to build relationships with Han and Neela, and DK becomes more and more infuriated with the newcomer. Sean is dedicated to mastering the skill of drifting, but he must eventually face DK once again in a climactic race.

"The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" is an action-packed adventure that brings everything that viewers expect from a great car-racing movie. The racing scenes are spectacular, and the cars are emphasized with every strategic camera angle. When the cars are racing, the characters take the back seat as the vehicles' powerful engines speak for themselves. The action scenes are flashy and fast-paced, dazzling viewers at every turn.

As expected of films from the "Fast and the Furious" franchise, the plot and dialog are the weakest points in the movie. Some of the character interactions are cheesy, and a few are downright cringe-worthy. The cookie cutter plot is fairly predictable, leaving no unexpected twists or turns to amaze viewers. Despite this, the film still manages to keep audiences' eyes glued to the screen for the entire duration, leaving viewers completely entertained. For those who enjoy a film that focuses more on action than plot, this is the movie to watch.

The characters in the film are diverse, and some dazzle viewers more than others throughout Sean's adventure in Japan. Han is one of the most likable and interesting characters, charming audiences with his cool demeanor. Sean Boswell himself is a somewhat unlikeable character with his in-your-face attitude, sense of entitlement and overly emphasized Southern accent. The character Twinkie often seems unnecessary, and Neela serves her purpose well as eye candy and the trophy girl, although viewers would like to see her branch out more as a real character. The acting is decent overall, with Sung Kong giving an especially impressive performance.

Car lovers are sure to appreciate the wide variety of powerful cars used in the film. Audiences get to watch the Mitsubishi Evo 9, R34 GT-R, S15, Nissan Silva, Toyota Chaser, Ford Mustang and many others in all their glory as they take to the streets. Paired with fast-paced music and plenty of screen time, these cars are sure to keep fans entertained as they watch their favorite vehicles motor to the finish line.

"The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" is a high-octane action film that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. For viewers looking for an exciting flick with cars, girls and racing, this is the perfect film to watch any time. However, viewers searching for a deep plot and groundbreaking characters should look elsewhere, as this is a classic action film to its core.

Rating: 3 out of 5