Merrick wonders who would win in a fight: Sonny Chiba or Gojira…
When we first received these reviews, I asked Harry “Wazzup with these?” The public perception of this film (as well as my own) has, thus far, been severely tainted. Vin Diesel’s continued absence from the franchise, as well as Paul Walker’s ejection this time around, pretty much suggested this project might be neither fast nor furious.
Harry’s reaction surprised me: “The reviews sound right,” he said. “I’ve been hearing some oddly fantastic things about it.” I pressed further, and he indicated he’d received multiple, independent corroborations regarding TOKYO DRIFT’s all-out kickassity.
Is it possible director Justin Lin and producer Neal Moritz actually succeed in re-routing this now “star”-less franchise? They were smart enough to hire the fabulous Brian Tyler (CHILDREN OF DUNE, SIX STRING SAMURAI) to score their film – which is a mighty fine decision in my book (although I suspect his music here will more closely resemble his score for ANNAPOLIS).
Here’s Pam and Dr. Phil (Merrick shakes his head glumly) with two looks at THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT.
The first review comes from Pam…
I saw an advance screening of THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS 3: TOKYO DRIFT tonight in Chattsworth.
And I have to say, it's been a long time since Hollywood delivered a damn good action film... this movie is DA BOMMMMM! The race scenes (the only scenes that matter) were unbelievable. Friggin' Frankenheimer-worthy. I have never seen "drifting" before, but I have a feeling it's going to get pretty popular. People were so excited, they were drifting in the parking lot afterwards (they probably needed more lessons, though).
I don't know if people should really see this film as a sequel to the other two. The most interesting thing about the movie is the "drifting" which is equal to skateboarding with race cars. I liked the first one okay. Didn't care for the second. Paul Walker can't carry a movie. But, Lucas Black (the kid from "Sling Blade") sure can. The guy can communicate his thoughts by doing nothing like a character from "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly", unlike Walker who can't even communicate his thoughts by telling you what he's thinking. Black is a big reason why this is a cool movie.
I just hope people don't stay away from this movie because of it's inferior predecessors. This flick doesn't need to be a sequel. It kicks butt on its own. Hollywood probably felt safer calling it a sequel. Anyone who stays away from this baby is going to miss out big time. Because Tokyo Drift runs circles around the Fast and the Furious 1 and 2. TD is the best of the Furious. Forget Mr. Cruise and the sinking cruise ship movie. This thing is like riding shotgun in a movie theater.
Plus, there's a really cool surprise ending that I probably shouldn't give away, although someone else might unfortunately. The audience friggin' erupted when it happened. It was way, way cool.
Pam’s sentiments are echoed below by Dr. Phil…
Obviously, expectations were low for this one. A sequel-in-name-only from a director who has yet to do anything particularly impressive about a subject that's already been tackled in a Hong Kong film -- doesn't sound particularly promising, right? About the only thing this movie really had going for it was that it couldn't possibly be as bad as 2 Fast 2 Furious.
But in all seriousness, I think I saw the sleeper of the summer tonight -- this flick totally rocks! It's genuinely every bit as good as the first F&F, and as far as I'm concerned, that's saying something.
The plot couldn't be more simple -- Shaun (Lucas Black, who in Sling Blade gave probably the best child actor performance ever) is a juvenile delinquent who destroys a housing development and a couple of cars in a crazy American drag race at the start of the movie (only complaint: the Kid Rock song that the scene is set to is so 1997).
To avoid a prison sentence, he's shipped off to Japan to live with his father, and it takes all of about a day before he's introduced to the underground drift-racing scene. Of course, he finds himself strangely attracted to the only other white person there, the impossibly hot girlfriend of D.K., the Japanese Drift King. (Why aren't his initials in Japanese? Because there's a joke to be made about a certain '80s Nintendo game that probably wouldn't work in Japanese...)
D.K.'s uncle (Sonny Chiba, who makes you wonder why he hasn't been in five movies a year since Kill Bill) is the head of the yakuza, so D.K. is not the guy whose girlfriend you want to be stealing. But like I said, she's REALLY hot... Shaun and D.K. have a drift race in which the gaijin gets his ass handed to him, but as we students of Rocky III know, it takes only a montage to get him up to speed for the rematch. Along the way one of Shaun's new criminal friends gets caught stealing from the yakuza and chaos ensues. And it all leads up to the best ending of any movie you'll see this summer (don't even think Shyamalan's going to top this one).
The races are fantastic. Seriously, this flick puts Initial-D to shame. While that movie seemed more concerned with teaching its audience how to drift, this one is all about making it exciting. And the drifting is truly amazing. You're in the car with these guys as they're doing it, the sound effects are phenomenal -- if Justin Lin is actually the guy doing the Old Boy remake, then I'm now officially excited for that one. He knows when to go cutty and when to hold on a long take of a car gracefully drifting around a corner. The action sequences alone are reason enough to see the movie.
Which is a good thing, as the story is um, shall we say, a bit thin...
Lucas Black is great the guy defines rogue-sexy-cool. Mark my words -- this guy's going to be a star.
And yeah, the movie is left wide open for another one. 4 Fast 4 Furious?
Count me in.
-- Dr. Phil