The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Crime Thriller  |   Release Date - Jun 4, 2006 (USA - Unknown), Jun 16, 2006 (USA)  |   Run Time - 104 min.  |   Countries - Germany , Japan , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Third films are rarely a charm, though this explosive entry in the Fast and the Furious franchise is a loud and lively exception. Taking its cues quite liberally from Andrew Lau's Asian box-office smash Initial D, Tokyo Drift slams on the gas and slides sideways across the screen in a flurry of color and speed that delivers a rousing rush of fun at the movies. The new change in location helps, as the neon nightlife of Tokyo is a far cry from the doldrums of the American shores. Aesthetically, the action pic is also helped by a slamming soundtrack that ranges from Japanese punk to Brooklyn hipsters Fannypack, as the hero of the flick (good ol' boy Lucas Black) is thrown headfirst into a wild culture shock made even more ridiculous thanks to his Gomer Pile accent. Of course, this being an American movie, the filmmakers couldn't possibly surround the lead with actual Japanese actors -- thus the dubious inclusion of Bow Wow and a Paula Abdul lookalike, Peruvian actress Nathalie Kelley. What really helps the picture are its bad guys, headed by the truly venomous Brian Tee and his yakuza uncle, the legendary Sonny Chiba. Their brief scenes together hold a weight that director Justin Lin controls assuredly, thereby adding a dramatic depth to the series that was sorely needed. Of course, it all comes down to the races and there are plenty for audiences to sink their teeth into. Surprisingly, none of Rob Cohen's outlandish trick camera shots are used to hype up the action as they were in the first two films; rather, the speed and agility of the drivers end up giving the scenes the accelerated kick they need. The whole flick is certainly more than a little silly -- what teenager gets sentenced to go live in Tokyo for three counts of reckless driving? Still, the movie is fun fluff that is pleasing to the eyes and ears -- and more importantly, it's just different enough than what came before to put its own personal stamp on the franchise.