Main cast: Lucas Black (Sean Boswell), Sung Kang (Han Seoul-Oh), Bow Wow (Twinkie), Brian Tee (Takashi), Nathalie Kelley (Neela), and Brian Goodman (Lt Boswell)
Director: Justin Lin
It probably sounded good on paper. Let’s revitalize the franchise, aimed at younger kids, and this is also a great excuse to save money by casting small-time actors who won’t ask for a salary of twenty million dollars!
It goes wrong from the moment they cast Lucas Black in the lead role. Sean Boswell is supposed to be about 17, but Mr Black, who is supposedly 24 at the time of filming (I say “supposedly” because everyone lies about their age in Hollywood), looks far older than 24. Sean looks like that creepy guy who keeps flunking until he ends up in a class with kids almost a decade younger than he is. It doesn’t help that Mr Black sports a singular facial expression throughout the movie – a stupid “I’m mentally handicapped” face that is supposed to be some kind of sneer.
And then there is the script, or what passes for one. Sean has no ambitions, nothing to make him interesting. He’s just a stupid kid who can’t follow rules. In this movie, he just wants to steal the local tough guy’s girlfriend because she’s hot. The lady in question, Neela, is pretty much eye candy with very little depths to her. Bow Wow plays Twinkie, the token black guy who breaks stereotypes by constantly trying to sell fenced or bootlegged goods for money.
Oh, and in this movie, “drifting” means making some kind of turn after speeding for a while. Yes, we have basically cars speeding and then turning, somewhat like a stupid game where you go around in circles. Sean is hopeless at drifting, but for some reason, he is taken under the wings of Han Seoul-Oh (nice name), the local neighborhood shady guy with a charming demeanor, and gets to train until he beats Takashi, the local Drift King or DK. Because Sean is the winner, Neela naturally decides that she wants Sean to be her boyfriend now, so hurray for teenage infatuation. Of course, since this movie is set in Tokyo, every guy is related to a Yakuza and every girl is a harajuku doll or a Sailormoon cosplayer. Han is the only character that isn’t entirely stereotypical in the sense that he’s an Asian who for once isn’t a kung-fu master or a nerd, and he also gets plenty of ladies panting after him.
The whole movie is a plot-free sequence of drifts, incoherent car races, and filler scenes of fast cars and scantily-clad ladies. Then again, I’m not expecting a great story here. Unfortunately, even the superficial glitz doesn’t deliver – the car chases are mind-numbingly boring and long, and there’s very little left to enjoy in this movie as it’s basically 90% about the cars. The characters are generally just there, the story leaves no impact, and there isn’t enough first class flash to make up for the non-existent substance in this movie.
If The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift isn’t high art, that’s fine, but it isn’t even interesting. There is really no excuse, therefore, to justify its existence.