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"The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift"

Directed by Justin Lin ("Better Luck Tomorrow").
Written by Alfredo Botello, Chris Morgan and Kario Salem.
Starring Lucas Black, Bow Wow, Nathalie Kelley and Brian Tee.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  6/20/06


Ahh, I still remember going to see the original "The Fast and the Furious"...and, sticking around for the end credits, to watch our boy Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) drive off into the sunset.  Man, I still have a soft spot in my heart for that movie, mostly because I have always admired movies that give you exactly what they are for 90 minutes and nothing more; has any film over the last few years done so much with as little as these films?  They are simply about cars, hot soundtracks, speed and ridiculously-awful acting.  (Although, I will admit, the performance by Tyrese in "2 Fast 2 Furious" had an outside shot at the Oscar a few years ago.)

So, when I saw the first trailer for "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" (alternate titles:  "Crazy Fast, Super Furious" or "Even Fasterer & Furiouser"), I was fired up.  I knew that even Paul Walker--who can thank the first two productions in this series as the only bankable moves of his career--had bailed on the third movie, so who the hell would take the reins for the third go-round?  How about Lucas Black?  Fresh off of...well, nothing, really, Black scored the role of wayward 18-year-old delinquent Shawn Boswell, who starts off in California when the film opens by wrecking his car and getting a third strike violation with the DMV, which cancels his license.  Shawn's mom sends him off to live with Dad...who lives in relative seclusion in a tiny zero-bedroom flat in Tokyo (and shamelessly enjoys the company of Japanese whores, judging from our first meeting with him).  It takes Shawn exactly six minutes of additional screen time to get adjusted to living in Japan, complete with being able to read a map of Tokyo in Japanese (uhh, yeah), and wham!, wouldn't you know it?, Shawn pops up on the underground street racing circuit, thanks to his new Negro friend, Twinkie (Bow Wow; yeah, I can't believe his character is named "Twinkie" either).

There are about a hundred reasons to leave the theater at this point, but you didn't show up for the story, showed up for the cars.  This go-round, good vs. evil is actually evil (Shawn) vs. REALLY evil, a criminal named the Drift King for his massive skills drifting souped-up Nissans around tight corners on super-soft racing slicks in parking garages and dangerous courses all over Tokyo.  The Drift King runs some kind of back-alley racket through his rich uncle (Sonny Chiba, WAY too big a star in Japan to be appearing in this horseshit); because the third film features exactly zero cops, we never really understand what any of the crime here is, anyway.  Doesn't matter.  Director Justin Lin gives us a steady dose of hot Japanese schoolgirls, badass car detailing and stunts, hilarious, God-awful dialogue--honestly, I've been repeating the Shawn line "That's a lotta money" in his thick Southern drawl all week--and a cameo from Our Man Vin to wrap things up.  "Tokyo Drift" is a lot of fun if you show up knowing to check your mind at the front desk; once on autopilot, you can soak in the sights of Tokyo and try to forget that you just dropped $10 to see what will certainly be a leading candidate for the Razzies later this year.

Of the three, "2 Fast 2 Furious" is probably the best overall film; John Singleton's direction of that film--fused with better-looking cars, women (Eva Mendes & Devon Aoki, you still haunt me), and acting than the other two movies--makes that one a solid action/comedy film that is worth watching over again.  But, wash this last sequel down with a glass of milk and all is forgotten...and, hopefully, this will be the last one in this series before someone else rips off the concept, which will certainly happen any day now.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09