Kevin: As part of our long march toward“The Fate of the Furious,” today TGD looks under the hood of the red-headed stepchild of the “Fast and Furious” universe, “Tokyo Drift.” The third entry in the series exists in a weird no-man’s land for a number of reasons: only movie to not feature any of the original cast, only one not to have some sort of undercover/police investigation aspect, only one not to reach $100 million at the box office.
It’s main importance to the series is what occurred after its release: Vin Diesel’s closing cameo led to a reunion of the original cast, Justin Lin stayed in the director’s chair as the next three entries became increasingly popular worldwide hits, and the world was introduced to Han (Sung Kang), a character who was considered expendable enough to kill off before the third act, yet so essential as to jumble up the timeline to include him in the next few sequels.
But before we get too far ahead, let’s focus on “Tokyo Drift,” which concerns brand new character Sean (Lucas Black), a typical California good ol’ country boy in trouble with the law after taking part in a street race that destroys what appears to be the same under-construction housing development Riggs and Murtaugh burned down in “Lethal Weapon 3” (is this thing ever gonna get finished?).
After being sent to stay with his dad in Japan, like any good American Sean befriends the only other American at his school, “Twinkie,” played of course by a Julliard-trained thespian who paid his dues for many years off Broadway and in smaller roles, barely supporting himself with thankless odd jobs, before earning his way into a major role in a film through sheer will and obvious talent. Ha ha, nah I’m kidding, it’s just Bow Wow.
CJ: Before we go any further, here is another fact that separates “Tokyo Drift” from the other movies in the series: it’s the only one in the Furyverse that you cannot rent online. $10 later, I did not find this to be as fun a fact.
Anyway, the first lyric during the song that plays over the opening credits is “I don’t read newspapers cause they all have ugly print.” I actually found this quite appropriate, as the general audience for these movies tends to eschew reading. This will be proven by all the inexplicably dumb things that happen later on, and I don’t mean dumb as in, “that car can’t do that” dumb. I mean dumb as in “lacking logic or reason.” Also, did you have to Google “eschew”? Knew it!
During the opening credits Sean is shown wrenching around at school, when three bullies grab a fat kid and start spray painting his belly. Sean goes to check it out, everyone stops and looks at him, and Sean proceeds to just walk away (because that’s how we learn he’s only a hero if you’re a hot chick he wants to bang). At this point did any of you notice the look of abject fear on the fat kid’s face? I swear, Sean leaves and the kid reacts as if these guys are about to use vice grips on his nuts.
Mike: Yeah based on what we see of this anarchy filled hellhole in the credits, Sean apparently attends the same prison high school from “Class of 1999.”
Anyway, for a kid living a troubled life with a single mom who appears to be an aging exotic dancer, Sean seems to have no problem finding and restoring vintage automobiles. I’m sure his insurance rates are very reasonable. “It’s not about the ride, it’s the rider,” is one of Sean’s first lines, which he says to a hot blonde. I’m not sure, but I’m sensing some sexual undertones here.
Said hot blonde turns out to be the girlfriend of Tim “The Toolman” Taylor’s son, who throws a baseball through the back windshield of Sean’s car, which I found rather odd since he’s dressed in a football jersey.
Afterward Sean challenges him to race but stipulates that he only races for pink slips, which for the record is virtually the same as saying, “I only race for $20,000 cash.” Pretty high stakes for a couple of high school shitheads.
Anyway, Toolman Jr. doesn’t like this, but then his lovely blonde girlfriend – who is obviously of high moral fiber – agrees to bang whoever wins, so blast Kid Rock’s “Bawitdaba” and let the race for teenage poontang begin!
After destroying a housing complex, his own car, a Dodge Viper, endangering the lives of dozens and injuring several people, including himself, Sean is under arrest and informed he’d be lucky not to be tried as an adult, which would probably carry a sentence of 45 years. After it’s sort of implied that his mother is prepared to suck off the police detective, Sean is sent off to Tokyo to escape his troubles, which is similar to the opening credits of “The Fresh Prince,” only if instead of sending Will Smith to Bel-Air they sent him to Syria. Because as far as I know Sean’s biggest issue in the States was racing and getting in the occasional fist fight, while in Japan he quickly falls in with two different street gangs, including the Yakuza.
Kevin: Then two weird things happen when Sean lands. First, he passes by several giant ads for M.C. Hammer hawking Sanyo phones. This does not appear to be some sort of joke, so I can only assume Hammer is popular and respected enough in Japan to be the face for a global electronics brand. Considering he didn’t exactly get a spot on the “F&F” train after the first one, somebody tell Ja Rule that the Japanese may actually be the only people on Earth who might still consider him relevant.
Second, Sean shows up at his dad’s small Japanese apartment and promptly witnesses his pops booting out a prostitute. By the way, did you notice the look of shame on her face when she left? Considering my reaction to the typical disgusting porn that Japan produces is usually akin to that of Nic Cage watching the snuff film in “8MM” …
… I really don’t want to imagine what Sean Sr. was into that could have crossed the line even for a Japanese whore.
CJ: I’d also like to take a moment to discuss Sean’s dad. Sean arrives and pops is confused because he thought Sean was arriving on the 7th, and Japan is a day ahead. So if it is currently the 8th, and the 7th was yesterday, this means only one of two things:
1) Dad showed up to the airport, Sean didn’t land, and so he just shrugged his shoulders and brought a hooker home with no further questions.
2) He was at home and didn’t even know he had to go pick Sean up, and then a day later got a hooker.
Mike: Seriously, Sean’s dad should be in the running for greatest movie dad of all time. Not only does his father fail to pick him up from the airport, but he also doesn’t even so much as leave him a crudely drawn map on how to actually get to his high school. Another great moment with “Father of the Year” is his warning, “Sean, if you even go near a car it’s over.” Two scenes later Sean is an illegal street racer and his father is restoring a Mustang in the empty garage he happens to have in the most overcrowded city on earth.
In high school Sean immediately meets the one Asian chick who isn’t so Asian that Americans can’t relate to her, but is in fact just Asian enough to appeal to a wide range of audiences. Her name is Neela (Nathalie Kelley), and she’s hot but in a weird way I don’t understand. She’s got a jawline you can split a log with and what seems like the same acting coach as Bow Wow.
While we’re on Bow Wow, let’s note that his character’s name is Twinkie but everyone calls him “Twink,” which I hope is the producers’ way fucking with him over a contract dispute. Sean and Twink immediately become best friends, and Twink whisks Sean into the dangerous and erotic underground world of gay S&M … sorry, I mean street racing! It’s here that Sean, having never driven a manual car with the steering wheel on the right side, can not only instantly do it but never for a moment even mentions how different it is. Regardless of his God-given talents behind the wheel, Sean loses the race and becomes a social pariah in school, which seems pretty harsh. If that was my high school I’d be applauded for destroying four cars and not being dead or in jail.
Kevin: So apparently the goal of this race is to not just drive fast but to be able to spin out – sorry, I mean “drift” – and quickly recover. Sean stupidly gets himself roped into a race with a local named DK, and even though, as Mike said, he’s never driven a car like this or even knows what drifting is, Han is introduced in the “F&F” series letting Sean use his car to race for reasons that are not entirely clear at first and never really clear later on.
While Sean proceeds to fuck up Han’s car during the race, did anyone else notice that at one point they show Bow Wow entering an elevator full of hot chicks, and before the doors close he looks straight into the camera and winks at us? Has anyone else in the “Fast and Furious” series ever broken the fourth wall like this and acknowledged the audience? Is it possible this is some sort of “Matrix” thing where only Bow Wow is aware that he is in a movie?
Also what’s with the wink? It’s not like he ever had a chance of sleeping with any of those chicks, so what’s up with acting like he’s some badass stud? I’m pretty sure I’ve been in an elevator with one or more attractive women before, but I didn’t go bragging to my friends about it later like it was some accomplishment: “Hey guess who rode a few floors in an elevator with some super hot chicks? Me!” “Cool what happened?” “Absolutely nothing! High five!”
Mike: Bow Wow is just amazing in this movie. He really sells the whole “I can’t believe what just happened!” face.
Anyway, Han takes Sean under his wing, gives him a car and instructs him on how to drift … Well actually he doesn’t teach him shit, he just watches as Sean crashes into everything. In fact the only person who has even tried to educate Sean in terms of drifting is Twink, and that started and ended with the phrase, “Pull the E-brake!”
Kevin: All right this is as good a time as any to talk about Han. According to the mythology of the “Fast and Furious” (I can’t believe I just typed that sentence), since this takes place supposedly after the events of parts 4, 5, and 6, isn’t Han like a millionaire globe-trotting secret agent by this movie? Why is he mentoring redneck street racers and doing low-level shit like collecting money from sumo wrestlers?
Mike: Yeah I got say, it’s pretty damn weird that Han hangs out with high school kids when he’s in his 30s. No one else seems to think so though.
Kevin: At one point he does imply to Sean that he doesn’t have to worry about money, and that Japan is sort of his refuge when he needs to lay low, which would track after the events of “Fast and Furious 6,” but if that’s the case then I’m not sure why his idea of laying low involves stealing cash that he doesn’t need from the Yakuza. Also he is very disciplined about never mentioning any of the way cooler shit he’s been involved with before the events of this movie, kind of like how Mitch Buchannon could perform his lifeguarding duties during the day on “Baywatch,” and somehow never talk about how he had just defeated Dracula the night before on “Baywatch Nights.”
All I know is that unlike Han, if I had slept with Gal Gadot even once, that’s all I would ever talk about.
CJ: Yeah since this technically falls 6th in the correct order for “F&F,” I found it a little disconcerting how in previous movies Han was all about Gal Gadot, and kept a candle burning for her after her death. Yet when we are introduced to him in “Tokyo Drift,” our first shot of him is with his arms around two hussies who, as Mike noted, are probably in high school. Oh and then later we watch him go to a club and make out with four different women? To my future wife: should you die in an extended fight sequence on a cargo plane trying to take off from a 16-mile runway, please rest assured that I will wait at least a week before I start drilling by-the-hour hookers. Legal age, of course (wink wink).
Then we finally sort of get an explanation from Han about why he is spending an inordinate amount of time letting these 11th graders wreck his vehicles and piss his money down the tubes, because he likes to “to see what a man was made of.” Yet all he saw in Sean at that point was a guy who was quick to act and throw himself into danger with no regard for anyone else’s safety, then take his expensive car and proceed to crash it time and again.
Kevin: “Whoever you choose to be around you, let’s you know who you really are.” So after all his adventures, Han deep down still wants to be a junior in high school whose only friend is Bow Wow? That’s sad.
Mike: For some unknown reason Sean leaves home without so much as a parting “fuck you” to his old man and moves into to Han’s Pleasure Dungeon, a massive garage that has a fully functioning dance club in the basement, a soccer field on the roof, and is located in the middle of what looks like Japanese Times Square, yet Sean thinks he’s concerned about money.
And yeah I get that Han’s place is awesome and it’s always teeming with hot chicks in their underwear, but you’d think he’d at least tell his father that instead of just taking off one night. Both of Sean’s parents are pretty amazing actually; he leaves for Japan and his mother is never seen nor heard from again. She doesn’t even ring him up to see how he’s settling in.
“All that matters is knowing what you really want and going after it.” For Sean it’s drift racing, a thing he didn’t even know existed until last week.
Speaking of the other member of their group, I don’t know how many scenes Sean has with this Neela chick, but there appears to be a lot of them and nothing ever happens! It’s usually just her saying something lame and him responding with something lamer. They have the romantic chemistry of twin brothers.
Also it seems like this Neela is a way better drifter than Sean is, so why is Sean the top dog in training? How come Han hasn’t taken her under his wing to be his protégé? She’s telling Sean the story of her childhood while effortlessly drifting all over the Japanese mountainside, meanwhile he can’t even do it when he’s fully concentrating. I hate when they do that in movies! If there are way better people then why is the hero the guy getting trained!? Yak-Mana!!
CJ: I appreciated how Sean decides to take Neela for a romantic drive, and they learn a lot about their pasts. However, I had trouble getting into the romantic mood. Can’t quite put my finger on it, but something kept pulling me out of it. Oh right, it was how when each one spoke it was immediately followed by the loud screeching of tires as they dangerously drifted around long-winding roads. Who needs a bold red and some Sade? Not this Casanova.
Kevin: All I can add about that scene is that even though I’ve liked Lucas Black since “Sling Blade,” man every time he opens his mouth and sounds like Larry the Cable Guy it is really hard to buy him as a hunky romantic lead.
Anyway, shortly after that scene Sean gets the crap kicked out of him by DK, who is not only the driver who beat him in the opening race, but also the nephew of a top Yakuza boss, Han’s partner in … whatever they are partnering on, and Sean’s rival for Neela’s romantic affections. Later Neela confronts DK in his office, where two whores – including one in his lap – are counting his shakedown money, at which point she angrily tells him that “he’s really changed.” Really? So he used to be a nice member of the Yakuza?
Mike: “Considering that I’m only 17 and am running an entire gang and a drug and gun business, I’m pretty sure this is who I’ve always been.” Actually DK may be the only logically consistent character in this movie.
CJ: Actually I am very confused about this DK character. I assumed he was Han’s age, and thus banging Neela made him a pedophile. But then Mike pointed out he was 17, at which point I went, well, his grandmother adopted her when she was a child and they grew up together, so him fucking her would make it a kind of incest. Why wasn’t pedophile or incest part of the plot line? I feel like that would have made it all much easier for us to hate him.
Speaking of Neela, she has a very thick Australian accent that Sean just can’t quite pick up on, like when she basically says “G’day mate” and he earnestly responds with “Where are you from?” It’s later explained that her mother was born in Australia and moved to Japan when Neela was very young, and then she died, at which point Neela spent the rest of her life in Tokyo with pedophile/incest enthusiast DK. So my question to the group is: do accents transfer via birth?
Oh and a second thing about DK. Apparently DK stands for “Drift King.” What kind of a moniker is that? What if you just added “king” to anything you happened to do? For people who are into tentacle porn, they are weirdly unimaginative in the nickname game.
Kevin: Well either way, when DK is informed by his uncle that Han is stealing from them, he chases after Han with Sean and Neela in pursuit, with everyone constantly drifting even though it seems to offer no tactical advantage whatsoever at this point. I know you are in love with this drifting concept that never came up again in this series, but how about just driving normally and trying to get away Han. Either way, Han is killed after getting nailed by what in this movie appears to be a random motorist, but who we discovered at the end of “Fast and Furious 6” was actually Jason Statham, seeking revenge for his brother who Han helped take down.
CJ: Did anyone else find it odd that Statham’s plan was entirely predicated on DK learning Han was stealing from his uncle and then storming over to fight, only to have Han drive off in a car? Man, Statham is GOOD.
Then Sean’s dad shows up one last time to really earn his “Father of the Year” award:
Dad: “Sean, I’m responsible for your well being.”
Sean: “And I’m responsible for my mess, can you understand that?”
Dad: “Well can’t argue with that my 17-year-old son. Go ahead and deal with these Yakuza fellas and when you get back I’ll teach you how to get penicillin on the cheap!”
Mike: Speaking of responsible adult figures, Sonny Chiba is one understanding mob boss. Sean walks into his headquarters with a bag of his stolen money and then challenges his nephew to a race to settle things. Why doesn’t Sonny Chiba just break Sean’s legs and throw him into Lake Tokyo and be done with it?!
Instead this backwoods hillbilly wants to race. Okay, well it seems like the Japanese guy has a little bit more on the line since he’s born in Tokyo and all his friends, family, and gang are there vs. Sean, who knows Twink and literally no one else.
By the way, Sean challenges DK to a race when he doesn’t even have a fucking car to drive! What would happen if DK said, “Okay dipshit let’s race! Meet you outside in 2 minutes.” “Ohhhhhhh well I didn’t actually mean race TODAY, I was kinda hoping you’d give me 7 or 8 months to restore this cherry Mustang my father stole off his army base.” This part of the scene must have gotten left on the cutting room floor. By the way, with Han dead who is bankrolling this $200,000 rebuild? They even find time to paint it!
Toward the end of the movie I was actually feeling bad for DK. Why does everyone want him to lose so badly? Even his own uncle wants him to lose. Also, for a guy so concerned about losing his girlfriend, he brings her around an awful lot.
Sean wins the big race. DK narrowly escapes death and no one gives a steamy Japanese fuck. Sean’s reward is that he is renamed DK! Only thing is that Twink named him that and it doesn’t stand for “Drift King,” it stands for “Dick King.”
Oh and also we get a Dominic Toretto cameo:
CJ: Which leads to one last puzzling thing with this series’ timeline: At the end of “Furious 6,” if I remember correctly Statham calls Dom right after killing Han, and Dom gets to work. However in this, Han dies, Sean spends at least a couple of weeks fixing up a car, then theoretically is the new “DK” for some period of time, at which point we learn that Dom has been beating people all over Asia before coming over. So in part 6, Dom gets the call and then springs to life, whereas in “Tokyo Drift” it seems like Dom got the call and then just kind of sat around and beat off for a year. I think Dom is a racist.
Also if this movie takes place in a more modern time than previous high-tech “F&F” movies, why is the final race filmed on flip phone camera?
Kevin: Good question, but we should remember that the Japanese are well known for being very backwards when it comes to adopting new technologies. Either way, while they continued making more “F&F” films, the drifting adventures of Sean and Twink ended here (apart from some likely “Tokyo Drift” erotic fan fiction I’m not aware of). For the next installment the studio scored a major coup by getting Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Jordana Brewster to return to the franchise even though their careers were white hot at the time with films such as “Babylon A.D.,” “The Life and Death of Bobby Z,” and “?????” respectively. Glad to have ya’ll back kids, looking forward to catching up with ya in our next review of the creatively titled “Fast and Furious”: