October 4, 2006

DVD Review: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

OK, no one asked for this movie, just like no one asked for the first sequel. Still, so long as they keep making them, the kids will still go out to see them. I am one of those who got suckered in. This time, though, was a little bit different, and I think it is better for it.

Any The Fast and the Furious movie that has been made, or ever will be made, will always have fast cars at its center. Anything else is just fluff, everything in the story is there to get you to the next car chase, race, or wreck. Tokyo Drift is no different in that regard. The setup and execution is very similar to the first two, guy gets in trouble, guy falls in with wrong crowd, guy races cars, and guy redeems himself and saves the day.

The difference this time around is that none of the stars of the first two films are in this one. No Vin Diesel, no Paul Walker, no Tyrese Gibson, which is fine by me, it helps give the series a little bit of freshness. They go younger this time around with Lucas Black (Friday Night Lights) stepping into the lead role, as a troubled high school student. The second difference is the setting, they are leaving the American road system, and in its place they head over seas to Tokyo, but I guess the title gave that away.

The story follows Shawn, whose penchant for getting into trouble who, after a destructive race through an under construction housing development, is sent to Tokyo by his mother to live with his father in Japan. No sooner does he get there, he's butting heads with jut about everybody he meets. He soon falls in with the wrong crowd, and after realizing just how deep into the other side he is getting, decides to get his girl and get out. That about wraps up the story, there really isn't much to it.

I admit, I was suckered by the bright colors and the big chases. I liked this movie, I was suckered by the whiz bang of this techni colored car movie. I didn't care about the story, I was too busy watching the craziness that was thrown up on the screen. The acting is nothing special, story is non-existent, but somehow, it comes together in the adrenaline filled final movie.

The most disappointing thing, or hopeful thing , depending on your point of view, is that this was directed by Justin Lin. He had a great big screen debut with Better Luck Tomorrow, and this is clearly a step down from that. On the other hand, he helmed Annapolis earlier this year, and that was horid. So this isn't equal to his debut, but it is most definitely a step up from his last film. This also proves that he is capable of directing an action film. So, this has its good and bad sides, regardless of your thoughts of the film. I recognize it as a weak film, but every once in awhile I like the mindless popcorn flick, which this succeeds at in flashy fashion.

Audio/Video. The transfer does the film justice. There are lots of bright colors, and lots of night scenes with lots of black, and all of it looks good. It is a very eye-catching movie. It is presented in anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 widescreen. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and it sounds pretty good. There is some nice activiy all around from all of the rock/hip hop music and car engines. It is a nicely done transfer.

Extras. This disk has a very nice assortment, although I wouldn't be surprised to see another edition with some more stuff, like we have for the first two.

  • Deleted scenes. There are about 19 minutes of cuts with commentary. There are some interesting scenes here, and it is nice to have the commentary to let us in on why certain scenes were cut. Mostly it came down to pacing, but one cut does explain Shawn's missing guitar.
  • Drifting School. This runs about 7.5 minutes and shows how all of the stars worked with stunt drivers to learn how to do drifting for real.
  • Cast Cam. This shows the actors screwing around on set and stuff from recordings from personal camcorders. It runs about 4.5 minutes.
  • The Big Breakdown: Han's Last Ride. For 8 minutes we get a look inside the big chase through Tokyo.
  • Tricked out to Drift. 11 minutes of the cars and how they were tricked out and selected.
  • The Real Drift King. 8 minutes with the real DK, who was even on set and did some of their stunt driving.
  • The Japanese Way. This is a look inside what it was like to shoot in Tokyo, and the fun that they had for 9.5 minutes. Makes me wish I was there.
  • Music Video: Don Omar "Conteo." Eh, didn't need this, but I am sure someone would like it.
  • Commentary. There is a commentary track with director Justin Lin. It is a good listen as we here stories of what it was like in Tokyo, how certain shots were gotten, casting, and all the fun stuff. He does talk a lot, and there are very few dead spots. I particularly liked hearing about the guerilla filming that took place, since it is very hard to get filming permits. It is something I have often heard that Asian films would incorporate a lot of this filming where they would just show up on a street, or somewhere, and just shoot, with many of the crowd reactions being legitimate.

Bottomline. This is a lightweight film, but I was suckered by the whiz-bang and wound up liking it a lot more than I probably should have. If you liked the first two, you will probably like this. I recommend this film for an evening of high octane entertainment.


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