“… isn’t a perfect movie, but even when it screws up it still manages to entertain me.”
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is easily the most divisive Fast and Furious movie to ever be released; and by “divisive” I mean that everyone agrees that it is terrible. Well, everyone except for me. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift follows Sean (Lucas Black), a 30 year-old high school student who breaks the law and gets sent to live with his father in Tokyo. When he arrives he quickly discovers the drifting scene, and promptly demonstrates how little skill he has in the field. This leads Han (Sung Kang) to take Sean under his wing and teach him the art of the drift.
I might as well just come out and say it: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is my favourite Fast and Furious movie. Why do I like it so much? That question is harder for me to answer. After watching it last night I found that the movie is by no means amazing, but for some reason I still love it. Maybe it was a perfect storm of it being the first Fast and Furious film I saw in theatres when I was a kid, and the fact that drifting was about the coolest thing you could do with a car at the time. It’s going to be really hard for me to explain why this movie is my favourite of the Fast and Furious franchise, but I’m going to try my best. What I love about The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (from here on out just “Tokyo Drift”) is the fact that it did something completely different with the franchise. I praised 2 Fast 2 Furious for abandoning the character of Dominic Toretto, but Tokyo Drift takes that a step further by abandoning everything we have grown accustomed to over the last two movies. The characters are different, the story is different, even the style of racing is different. All of this was a very bold decision, and I have to respect them for it. I also think that it was a brilliant decision to showcase a different side of the racing world than the one shown in other Fast and Furious films. Tokyo Drift takes us to the other side of the planet and shows us how people do it there, and that is something that I appreciate. Of course in the grand scheme of things Tokyo Drift is the outlier considering that literally every other film follows the same group of people, but regardless I do appreciate what it decided to do. Even past the setting of the film and the style of racing, the similarities just keep showing up. For one, Tokyo Drift is a different type of story to the ones that we’ve seen before. The character of Sean is a small-town boy who bleeds red, white, and blue so to see him thrust into a foreign environment is interesting. And it’s not just the setting hat makes this story stand out, but the fact that Sean now has to learn and prove himself in a completely different style of racing; Tokyo Drift is the epitome of a fish-out-of-water story. And to bring up yet another difference, Tokyo Drift is a movie that is all racing, all of the time. The previous Fast and Furious films (and those to come) seem to use the medium of cars as a means to deliver a great crime story, but Tokyo Drift throws that out of the window. Sure there is mention of the Yakuza at one point, but the problem is literally solved by winning a race. You can’t get more race-oriented than that. This of course means that the action scenes on Tokyo Drift are kept to a minimum, but honestly I’m okay with it. Tokyo Drift has a different goal than the other films, and because of that of course the execution is going to be different. What we get instead of elaborate action sequences are beautifully captured racing sequences that showcase the fast-paced nature and also utilize unique camera angles and shots to immerse you into the film.
To get really vague, I love the feel of Tokyo Drift. As soon as Sean arrives in Tokyo we experience a living, breathing city. There are no empty streets like in the previous Fast and Furious films, everything is much tighter and so much more alive than what we’ve seen before. I also really liked the contrast between the world of drifting and the “outside world”, because it really made it feel a bit more exclusive if that makes sense. Tokyo on its own is kind of bland colour-wise, but as soon as we see our first underground race the colours come flooding in. The same can be said about the entire movie really, because even at the start when Sean is still in the U.S. the colours are very bland and the tone is very monotonous. To add onto this feeling that the film conveyed, the music might be a big reason why I like Tokyo Drift so much. The soundtrack, to me anyways, is an absolutely perfect representation of the tone of the movie. Nothing is ever really serious, and when push comes to shove a race will solve all of your problems. Couple that with the fact that the soundtrack for Tokyo Drift is full of really good songs, and you have the perfect storm in terms of soundtracks. Now I would be lying if I said that Tokyo Drift was flawless, but I choose to see some flaws as strengths. I love watching bad movies because I find that I can be just as easily entertained laughing at a bad movie, or being engaged by a good one. My point is that there are some points of Tokyo Drift that are absolutely terrible, but because I was able to laugh at them I don’t take any points off. Tokyo Drift manages to be a fucking hilarious film, whether intentional or not, and because of that I love it dearly.
Ultimately The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is the ugly duckling of the Fast and Furious franchise, but it’s also my favourite. The way the the film manages to capture the feeling of Tokyo and the underground racing scene is brilliant, and I also appreciate that the film was a risk considering it completely abandoned everything that people liked about the Fast and Furious franchise. Sure The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift isn’t a perfect movie, but even when it screws up it still manages to entertain me.
I give The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift an A