There’s a fond place in my heart for Initial D. My first car in high school actually resembled the car the main character had in the original anime series. Thus, kicked off my initial interest in the world of car racing. While the anime stayed fairly close to the manga, this live action movie makes plenty character and plot changes. The storyline is basic but enjoyable, with the main characters getting a decent amount of screen time. However, what sets the movie apart is the cars! I am a car nut, and I love the way the cars, ranging from the RX-7 to the Trueno, were cleanly built and well crafted to fit the mold from the anime. Was it faithful to the anime or manga? I think the directors did very well with the film, capturing the geekiness of Takumi’s friends and the racing was just fun to watch.
I was intrigued as to how they would be able to film and tell this story, mostly because it has a massive original story, to encompass that into 2 hours is most difficult. I believe the way it turned is excellent considering they had to change the storyline slightly from the original to have appeal as a standalone film. One thing, that shouldn’t be a fault to the film itself is the dvd. I’m not sure if I’ll ever bother trying to watch this again. There are about 11 minutes of previews that you can’t skip and it was very irritating. Oh, and as for the movie itself, another thing that annoyed me was the language select. When watching foreign films, I prefer listening to the original language. This also wasn’t accessible. Movie was pretty good, but I would have doubts about buying this DVD and supporting this sort of forced advertising on a DVD you bought with your hard-earned money.
Also gone is the distinctive euro-beat dance soundtrack that turned Initial D’s anime into a real treat. Despite the cool origins for Takumi, he’s not a very compelling character, and his taciturn ways are as frustrating as they are supposedly cool. However, the drifting and camera techniques were really great. I was going in thinking the worse with no expectations. This definitely beats out Fast and the Furious in terms of car racing and drifting.
Aside from racing, and considering I didn’t spend anytime explaining the plot, there is a sub story. In between races, the script focuses on Takumi’s strained relationship with girlfriend Natsuki, who secretly engages in compensated dating. It doesn’t add much and you should only view this film for the slick racing scenes. Initial D possesses neither charm nor surprise, though it does manage to be better constructed than 90% of what comes out of Hong Kong these days. For big-budget summer fare, Initial D fits the bill quite nicely. It doesn’t challenge or truly involve, but it’s 110 minutes of slick racing fun. Thumbs slighty up.