It was bound to happen, I just knew it would. “The Fast and the Furious”, one of the stupidest franchises since “xXx” was getting a third film. Except this time it’s not “3 Fast 3 Furious,” or “Three times fast and furious”, just “Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”. I’m one of the many people who think the “Fast and Furious” franchise was basically a forgettable series of messy films, and “Tokyo Drift” is really no different. While the first film was an awful sloppy junky mess that took itself too seriously, “2 Fast” was much more fun, even if it was still sub-par, and I have to admit I was interested to see what would turn up, even with Justin Lin at the wheel.
It’s too bad that “Tokyo Drift” indicates that the producers and studios still take these films so seriously, instead of basically acknowledging it as campy cheese soaked fun. I assumed with “2 Fast” that they’d basically recognized it as anything but the action du jour, and took it as the camp fest it should be. With actors delivering lines like “Let’s race… for pink slips” with the deadpan sternness of a Lumet film, it’s shocking that Lin couldn’t have had more fun with this, even with an interesting but deceiving cameo from a veteran star from the first film. “Tokyo Drift” is basically a Frankie and Annette film pretending to be “Bullitt”, and because of that, the film is a misfire all the way through.
This time the film takes place in Tokyo and not the US, and this time we focus on drifting and not on racing. Gee, that makes it all better. Oh, and the writers try to make the art of illegal racing somehow a noble endeavor. The advantage the first two films had were star power, the first being Vin Diesel who had charisma and a presence, and then Paul Walker who, like it or not, has appeal. This has Lucas Black who gives a truly awful performance and is about as charismatic as a cardboard cutout. The plot for the first two is completely thrown out the window, this time “Tokyo Drift” focuses on Shawn Boswell who gets into a car crash after racing a high school jock, and is shipped off to Tokyo to live with his father. Coincidentally enough, he makes friends with a student who happens to race in the underground circuit, and Shawn is back into it once more. The remainder of the film is based around trash talk, poor characterization, and many racing sequences.
Drifting, for those who don’t know and don’t care, is a race built around a curved track which has two cars sliding along the curves attempting not to drive off the edge or crash into a wall, and the first that can basically slide its way into the finish line, wins. Boring, right? What’s ironic, though, is that a man like Lin who created an original film like “Better Luck Tomorrow”, preached about how Asians aren’t cast in films in Hollywood unless it’s an action picture, and cast Asian actors who were actually supplying dramatic performances and not throwing kicks, would direct a film that sets down on an Asian land, with Asian actors, but only on an action movie setting. In many ways it contradicts what Lin had intended.
Not to mention that even though we’re in Tokyo for the remainder of the film, the Asian actors still speak in English, even when in their own circles. Go figure. Bow Wow is the uneducated African hood, Black is the Southern redneck, and—well, the rest is still stereotypes. I’m still trying to figure out what Lin’s campaign was all for in his first film, anyway. Years from now, when this is long forgotten, I can picture it on late night cable with a double feature of some Jeff Speakman film, and I imagine it would have some entertainment value at three in the morning, but now, as a theatrical release, its value is slim to none. It’s a weak sequel, to a weak series.