Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)





















I've said it before and I'll say it again...this is the best darn Fast n Furious chapter on the track by miles (puns away!). No big names and no massive overblown stunts, this is just pure driving at its finest, real driving, drift driving. The film works because there is no pressure on its shoulders, the sequel was terrible so there were no expectations here. Now I know this has been long forgotten by the recent tidal wave of cookie cutter sequels and merely because Vin Diesel came back, but none of them hold a candle to this.

The plot is basic and involves a young tearaway who seems to be getting into trouble where ever he and his mother move to. One stunt too many causing major damage to property and writing off his car means he's being sent away to his father...in Japan. His father was in the military so this is why he's based in the land of the rising sun, and because of his bad record (and to avoid jail) this young lad gets shipped to Japan to live with his dad. That's a punishment!!? sounds pretty cool to me.

Of course the entire plot is predictable and hokey as hell, its virtually bordering on 'The Karate Kid' with cars. New kid in town, makes a close friend who helps him, makes enemies with the local bully cos he falls for his girlfriend, gets into all sorts of scrapes in the meantime, his father can't control him...blah blah blah, yeah its damn unoriginal sure, but that's not why we watch these films is it. It is a shame the main lead in this is totally miscast, he looks like a doofus and sounds it too with that hick southern accent of his, but mainly he's just not much of a good looking lead, strange choice.

You like Japanese super saloons? more specifically you like Nissan 350Z's? you're at home here my friend. The first car sequence in this film is set within a multi-storey car park, a damn tight one! The skills on show in this one sequence alone are breathtaking, the 350 drifts around the ultra tights bends inches from the walls, people and other parked cars. You gotta see it to believe it and its clearly real.

The visuals in this film are a real treat, Japan is an extremely photogenic city and always looks good, especially at night. The sight of these glistening hyper cars purring along the highways and small streets of Tokyo, cruising part the neon lights, bustling crowds, old town areas and towering lit up skyscrapers is simply gorgeous. Most super cars/heavily modded cars look good anywhere, but set them in Japan and they just look even better, some lovely eastern car graphics and mod kits in this film too.

Most of the car sequences in this film are stunning in all honesty, even the training sequences where our US lead learns to drift, its all filmed perfectly. The guys behind the camera knew how to get the best angles and shots for these sequences, the cars just look awesome. 350's, EVO's, a Mazda and a highly modded Silvia make up the roster this time but come the big finale race naturally the Yank tunes up his dads old Mustang to challenge the bad guy. Its kinda silly really because I really don't think there would be any way an old Mustang could beat a Nissan 350Z, especially at drifting, the Mustang couldn't handle it.

But I can't deny the final race is pretty cool, its quite tense and does get your adrenaline going slightly...even though we know who's gonna win. The whole reason behind the race is daft anyway, why would a mafia kingpin allow a race to decide who leaves town. And why would the loser simply leave town? what is this a western?! doesn't the Yank and his friends owe money? wouldn't they cut his fingers off or something.

Anyway this is hands down the best actual racing film in the franchise if you ask me, a very highly professional and realistic street racing flick which deserves respect. The location simply enhances the experience, the only thing I don't like about these films (including the first two) is watching these awesome Jap cars get bashed up, its painful to watch because they're amazing cars and damn expensive to run! The very end is also fun with a cameo from Toretto (Diesel) but again I gotta laugh, does this guy really think he can beat a Jap drift car in a tight multi-storey car park with a huge brick of a US car like the Plymouth Satellite?! damn thing is wider than a bus!

8/10