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The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

The high octane Tokyo Drift is a worthy third installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise. Of course, the story is pretty predictable and farfetched but that"s not why you"re seeing this. It"s all about the drift, baby!


Although Tokyo Drift may not be as straightforward as the first Fast and Furious, it is at least more credible than the second, incorporating a nice fish-out-of-water element to its story. High schooler Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) loves to street race but unfortunately, it gets him into a lot of trouble. After his latest stunt, it"s either go live with his estranged military father stationed in Tokyo or go to jail. Sushi sounds nice. Once there, however, it doesn"t take long for Sean to be introduced to the underground world of drift racing by his new American buddy Twinkie (Bow Wow)--and boy, does Sean get hooked. It"s perfect for his rebel style. But it doesn"t come easy to him. He has to put in his dues first and inevitably, as rebels are wont to do, ends up rubbing the some of the local drift-racing denizens the wrong way, including D.K. (Brian Tee), the reigning champ who has ties to a Japanese crime syndicate. That"s OK, though. Sean will win the race and get the girl, no worries. Oh sorry, did I give too much away?


Many of you might remember Black as the cute but tough little kid Billy Bob Thornton"s Karl befriends in Sling Blade. But now all grown up, the actor is definitely becoming a likable screen hunk, with turns in films like Jarhead and Friday Night Lights. Obviously, the comparisons to Fast and Furious regular Paul Walker are expected, but Black definitely has his own style and charisma, thanks to that distinctive Southern drawl. Bow Wow is a tad under utilized as the relegated sidekick, while the token girl part is played by the bland but beautiful newcomer Nathalie Kelley. Sean"s adversary, Tee (TV"s Zoey 101) is pretty badass, though, and Sung Kang (Better Luck Tomorrow) does a nice job as a smooth drift racer and small-time hood who is more sympathetic towards Sean. Veteran Japanese actor Sonny Chiba (Kill Bill Vol. 1) makes a memorable appearance as D.K."s nefarious uncle. But make sure you stay until the end for a well-placed--and crowd pleasing--surprise guest cameo.


So what is drift racing exactly? According to the notes, it"s an exhilarating balance of speeding and gliding through a heart-stopping course of hairpin turns and switchbacks. Whatever the definition, it looks pretty darn cool up on the big screen. Director Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow) gives us some exhilarating racing sequences, going from close-up cuts to slo-mo shots as cars zip, flip, glide and burn as much rubber as possible. One particular scene has the guys racing through the streets of Tokyo, in which they have to drift their way through a large crowd of people. Seat-clenching stuff. Lin also does a fine job showing Japanese culture and how street racing is treated there. At one point, Sean passes some cops going 197 mph. Wondering why they aren"t chasing him, his Japanese passenger explains that since he was going so fast, the Toyko police won"t even try to chase him because they know they"d never catch up. Wouldn"t that be nice? Oh, and there"s a disclaimer at the end: All the racing done in the movie was handled by professional stunt drivers and we shouldn"t attempt to do any of this on our own. You mean I can"t drive home from the theater, drifting around the cars on the highway? Darn my luck!

Bottom Line rated this film 2 1/2 stars.