The third film in the series has redneck teen Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) being sent to Tokyo to live with his father. Once there he gets mixed up with another high school punk who just happens to be the nephew of a powerful gangster (Sonny Chiba). The first film in this series was good and the follow-up wasn’t too bad when you considered everything that it was. This third film, however, is a complete disaster from the word go and it’s rather shocking that this here didn’t put an end to the entire series. Even more predictably Sean’s forbidden romance puts him in the middle of rival Yakuza drift racing gangs. Moving the story to Japan is reasonable because it will change many aspects of the previous films, but sadly isn’t enough to make the movie good. Too bad the only things that I really enjoyed about this experimentation project are the soundtrack and the racing scenes, since the cheesy dialogs and the campy characters ruined many minutes of this movie.
The most important part of The Fast and the Furious is inarguably the racing sequences and their overall effectiveness. I will admit that the sequences themselves are well-filmed and eye catching, highlighting the cars, as they should. However, except in a few fleeting moments, they are not as enthralling as they should be and this is one of the most disappointing aspects of The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift. The final confrontation, for me, is pretty good to watch, but only arouses the senses once in a while. The fact that you see confident Asian characters portrayed by talented Asian American actors, while smoothly giving the audience the feel of what it is like for an outsider to visit Japan. I would also like to add that it was actually Lin himself who volunteered to take on this project when he realized that it was the only major Hollywood theatrical film to predominantly feature an Asian American cast in 2006. Lin read the script, realized it was riddled with stereotypes.
Lin just could not bare to see the fact that a film with this much exposure around the world was going to misrepresent Asians and Asian Americans, so he bit the bullet and took one for the team, and decided to take this on as his next Hollywood directorial assignment. Although Lin could not get his way in casting Sung Kang as the lead for “Tokyo Drift,” because the studio specifically wanted a white actor for the lead role, Kang was still given a prominent role as the non-stereotypical Asian American mentor for the male lead.
Also, the big “final race” occurs, and the hero’s dad has the body of a classic 60s Mustang in his garage (a somewhat unlikely situation in Japan — not just the car, but the idea that he has a entire garage for this purpose in one of the world’s most expensive and crowded cities). So Sean and his friends take the engine out of one of the Japanese cars he has wrecked earlier in the film, and in a few hours they manage to install this into the 60s muscle car. I admit I am not a mechanic or specialist, but it does not seem logical that you could retrofit a Japanese front wheel drive engine into a vintage 60s American rear wheel drive car….if it could be done AT ALL, it seems to me that it would take a long time and involve a lot of custom parts. That’s not even considering that they drive on the opposite side of the road in Japan, or that a 60s era car would be much heavier than a current model Japanese car. There are too many other absurdities to list, along with the inclusion of the Yakuza (Japanese mafia). I wish I could say that “Toyko Drift” was campy, or that you could have a good time just laughing at the many absurdities, but actually its fatal flaw is that it is extremely dull.