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The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (4/10)

by Tony Medley

To give you a flavor for the consistent intelligence level achieved by this film, here’s an opening scene. Our hero, Sean Boswell (Lucas Black: if this guy is a high school student, he must be even dumber than he comes across because he looks at least 25-years-old), and villain, Clay (Zachery Ty Bryan) are in a fight. Villain suggests a drag race. Hero says he only races for pink slips. Villain sneers his car is worth $80,000 and hero’s car is junk, so what’s in it for him? Villain’s girl friend, Cindy (Nikki Griffin) steps in and says, “race for me.” Villain buys this and the race is on. Let’s see, in a race for the two cars, he’s unwilling to risk his $80,000 car for a piece of junk. But when his girl friend, who is ostensibly already his, says to race for her, he thinks that’s a good idea. He’s unwilling to risk his car in exchange for the hero’s car, but throw in his own girl friend and he’s all for it. Oh, boy. This is right at the start of the movie, so you know you are in for a long evening.

Naturally the race results in lots of mayhem, all of which fall on Sean’s shoulders, so Sean’s mom, Ms. Boswell (Lynda Boyd) dispatches him to his old man, Major Boswell (Brian Goodman) who either is still in the Navy or is a vet (never adequately explained), in Japan. Old man takes him on on the condition that he not go near a car. Yeah, sure. Sean is immediately befriended by Twinkie (Bow Wow), an African-American who is in Sean’s same high school, who, in turn introduces him to the local car club where he destroys the beloved car of Han (Sung Kang) in a “drifting” race with D.K. (Brian Tee), whose uncle runs the local chapter of the Yakuza. Naturally Sean ticks off D.K., maybe because he hits on D.K.’s Eurasian girl friend Neela (Nathalie Kelley), who apparently is in Sean’s ball park intellectually because she looks like a 25-year-old still in high school, too.

“Drifting” is apparently knowing how to take a tight turn going fast without spinning out. Sean spends much of the movie learning how to “drift,” setting up the climax, you should pardon the expression.

This movie is for freshmen only because it doesn’t rise to the level of being sophomoric. Given the fact that this is directed by Justin Lin, whose last effort was the execrable “Annapolis,” one of the worst movies of the year, this should not be surprising. The story is contrived; character development is nil; there is no premise. But if you’re 14-years-old and eagerly expecting lots of car races and lots of noise, you’re not going to be disappointed. If, on the other hand, you have progressed to being able to reason at least on the level of a semi-intelligent young adult, and you’re expecting a story, character development, a premise, a moral, good acting, good directing, a good script, appealing scenery, jokes, dialogue, or believable relationships, well, you can leave early, right after the opening titles.

June 13, 2006