Plot Summary: Sean Boswell is faced with prison or moving to Tokyo (it’s in Japan, you know) to live with his father. Naturally he goes to Tokyo where he’s drawn into the underground world of drift racing. Or something like that.
Director: Justin Lin
Key Cast: Lucas Black, Bow Wow (seriously?), Sung Kang, Nathalie Kelley.
Five Point Summary:
1. Japanese culture (duh).
2. Lovely shiny cars
3. Another completely superfluous love story.
5. Sonny Chiba classing the place up
Until this week, this was the only Fast and Furious film I’d seen. Yeah I know – random, right? Let me explain. I am a former subscriber to the Lovefilm rental service, and despite having all (four films, at that time) on my viewing list, they decided to send me the third one first. Go figure. So having little choice in the matter I watched this, returned the disc, then received something completely different next time round. I never did receive any of the other Fast and Furious films, and not being a massive fan of cars I didn’t get round to seeing the rest. Until now, of course.
On my first viewing all that time back, in the long dark recesses of 2009, I wasn’t overly enamoured with the story, and that feeling has remained. It’s passable, and certainly better than the old Fast and Furious method of “how can we get the characters to drive somewhere and make it fit it into the paper thin story somehow?” But to me it was a glossy reprint of the storyline from the first two films, only transferred to the gorgeous looking streets of Tokyo and handed to a younger (and mostly foreign) cast. The key twist here as well is that the focus is on drift racing rather than the usual 10 second race stuff. The stunts, as a result, look fantastic. I can fully appreciate the skill required to drive like an absolute NUTTER and yet still maintain control of the vehicle. Apart from the obligatory sections where Sean can’t drift and he hits pretty much everything, all of the driving sequences with cars slipping and sliding all over the place are a joy to watch. Additional bonus: not CGI. Practical effects for the win!
In an effort to give some of the characters a bit more than the standard 2D cardboard cut-out fare, Bow Wow (I’m never going to use his character name) is a purloiner of half-inched (pinched) technology and similar gubbins, which is usually broken or damaged in some way. He’s beaten up by one of the Japanese guys (sorry I couldn’t tell you who, they all look the same… SHOCK HORROR -RACISM! I jest, I know who the actor is. It was… oh, erm… anyway, moving on.)
One more thing I love about the film is the cinematography. Stephen F Windon, I doff my proverbial cap to you, sir. This is the same guy who did the cinematography on Deep Blue Sea and Anacondas. Somehow I think he should focus more on lighting cars than actors reacting to CGI creatures in future. As he’s also done the same job on every “Fast” film to date, then I would say we’re in good hands. The cars look fantastic, enhanced by the Tokyo setting. In fact I would say that applies to any film that shows Japan at night, the Resident Evil film series included (but that’s for another review). Justin Lin brings a real sense of class to proceedings and pushes this a step above the first two films in every sense. Except for the script, unfortunately he couldn’t do much about that.
So… it’s more of the same, yet slightly different. Cinematography and a director who actually has a clue what he’s doing will only get you so far.
Favourite scene: Anything scene where Sonny Chiba turns up. Cinema gold.
Quote: “My mother, she’s blind in one eye and she can drift better than that.”
Silly Moment: Bow Wow slips into the lift alongside a group of ladies, then breaks the fourth wall and winks knowingly at the camera.