Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Directed by Justin Lin
Where “2 Fast 2 Furious” faltered because of a lack of Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, “Tokyo Drift” is able to survive. With a new locale, cast of characters, and personality, “Tokyo Drift” was unlike any of the other “Fast and Furious” films. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
When American teenager Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) gets into trouble for racing again, his mother sends him to Tokyo to live with his military dad (Brian Goodman) in the hopes that it’ll straighten him up. Well, it doesn’t. When he meets Twinkie (Shad Moss, or “Bow Wow”) and Han (Sung Kang), Sean gets involved in the Tokyo street racing scene, with an emphasis on drifting…which Sean knows nothing about. He’ll find a rival in D.K. (for “Drift King”…played by Brian Tee), who has connections to thugs in the city. But of course, they’ll also fight over a girl, Neela (Nathalie Kelly).
Lucas Black gives “Tokyo Drift” a humor that the other movies try and fail to deliver. In this role, perhaps the only of his that I’ve ever liked, he pulls it off (though he hardly passes as a high school student at 24). At times, though, Brian Tee and Nathalie Kelly’s weird romantic triangle with Black can be unrealistic and distracting. But the introduction of Han, a laid back, lovable character who’d appear in three more “Fast” movies, makes up for all of that.
In a surprising change of events, the action in “Tokyo Drift” can be described as realistic. It keeps the over-the-top chases to a reasonable amount, giving us action only when it needs to while trying to focus a little bit more on the characters. But really, it’s the Tokyo locale we’re focused on. We’re just taking in the unique Japanese racing scene. That alone is enough to sustain us.