STUDIO: Universal
MSRP: $29.98
RUNNING TIME: 105 Minutes

  • Commentary by: Director Justin Lin
  • Deleted scenes
  • Tricked out to drift – how filmakers customized cars
  • The Japanese way – on location in Tokyo

The Pitch

"They’ve replaced Paul Walker with screeching tires and the kid from the X-Files movie!"

The Humans

Lucas Black. Bow Wow. Brian Tee. Brian Goodman. Nathalie Kelley. Sung Kang.

Nothing a few tentacles couldn’t cure.

The Nutshell

The antics of rogue cop Paul Walker have apparently ceased for the time being and his former bald accomplice Vin is nowhere to be found, but as long as there is asphalt and motor oil there will always be people who are both fast and furious. Sean Boswell (Lucas Black, the strapping hick footballer from Friday Night Lights) is the latest, a troublemaker who’s sent to Japan to live with his military father after wrecking the wrong car in America. In record time he’s caught up in the Japanese sensation of drift racing, where cars skid sideways through tight spaces with reckless (but not wreckless) abandon! Romance, action, and Yakuza affiliations ensue!

"What’s the deal with all this traffic?" ………. "God damned Annabel Chong…"

The Lowdown

I’ll admit that I like the films in the Fast and the Furious series. I think the first one was fairly inoffensive and it had the common decency to cast Acting Sensation Mayor Ted Levine. I enjoyed the second one even more and for no-brainer action flicks geared towards tweens and teens, they’re a decent bit of fun. Plus, Cole Hauser tried the ol’ rats in the bucket style of torture and I love his curly-haired toughness for it. There’s something about high toned cars searing ass down the tarmac that is timeless, something that hearkens back to when people in my father’s generation souped up Mustangs and Chargers and raced for pink slips. Is it cutting edge? Never. But, it’s formula filmmaking boiled down to its essence and somehow I find myself less “sold” than I do when I see stuff like The Covenant or Gridiron Gang. It’s formula. Formula racing! God, I’m like William Shakespearse except with words.

Well, duh.

The film begins by showcasing our hero Lucas Black as a blue collar kid spending all of his time under the hood of a car. His own ride looks like a junker but beneath the primer and veneer lies the raging heart of a beast, one which he pits against the juvenile owner of a Dodge Viper in a dangerous and ill-adviced race through a construction site. When both cars are destroyed, the police favor the rich kids as they are wont to do in small towns. To avoid prison, our boy goes to the Land of the Rising Sun to clean up his act.

In about 4 minutes of screen time, our boy is racing again. It certainly doesn’t paint the character as a leading man to feel for, especially considering there’s an earlier scene where we see him avoid helping a kid who’s getting ostracized. He’s not the most likable chap and all we know is that he is faster and furiouser than his contemporaries. In fact, he only seems at home when he’s ruining his car or someone else’s. Perhaps he is symbolic of today’s youth; filled with a sense of entitlement, bouyed by ADD and self-centered beyond compare. Or, perhaps it’s just dumb screenwriting.

"Excuse me, I love your work E. Honda."……. "Doof Koi!"

Thankfully, these movies aren’t about setting the storytelling bar at Manute Bol heights, but rather the sensation of burning rubber. Much rubber is burned here as director Justin (Better Luck Tomorrow) Lin’s vision of drift racing is quite kinetic and exciting to watch. This film also features quite a bit less of the CGI assisted action than the first two, which helps. Instead of seeing the charge of electrical impulse through the entire chassis of a car, the bulk of the CGI is here is in keeping human bystanders from getting crushed by twisting and screaming automobiles. It’s a very well shot film and most of the performers do solid work, especially Sung Kang as the sympathetic crook, Han.

See, once our hero winds up in Japan he gets mixed up in a relationship triangle with the girl of a connected mobster (Brian Tee, whose bangs don’t frame his face well) and indebted to another mini-kingpin whose car he wrecked in his second poorly advised race in the film. He runs afoul of all in his path, befriending only Bow Wow who here portrays the "Caretaker" character from The Longest Yard for the most part, though another fellow takes the loss to teach our hero a lesson instead of him. There’s never really a sense that our leading character is really a centered guy and even when he’s trying to make things right he mucks it up (even the guy named after dog voice gets pissed at him when he tries to rid him of a bully) so it’s hard to totally fall in line with the film but it is entertaining enough and drift racing is a lot more cinematic than I expected it to be.

Plus, there’s that whole "twist" ending involving a character from a previous film. It’s flawed and cut from the most familiar mold possible but it’s better than dying from a gunshot to the neck, that’s for sure.

Well, I guess it’s safe to nuke Maine now.

The Package

bama_boy = Devin Faraci.

This is a loaded son of a bitch of a DVD, not unlike the first two and their "ultra tricked out" editions. Justin Lin is all over these and it’s good to see the investment. There’s a ton of deleted scenes available with commentary and he’s terrific. The scenes actually flesh the story out a good bit and probably would have made it more palatable for an old fogie like me but stuff that probably doesn’t mean much to boys in Orlando with souped up Civics.

The commentary is good as well and there’s no doubt there’s a director with a huge future here. He’s terrific and the main reason this film has a good reason to exist.

There’s little featurettes on the real Drift King (a real racer who popularized the notion of spinning around race tracks like a loon), filming in Japan, realizing the big chase and crash scene (the best featurette), and several more. They’re fine, though they never really give you a chance to get a feel for the process. It is cool seeing Terry Leonard again, the first stuntman I ever knew of after watching some TV special about Raiders of the Lost Ark as a kid. There’s more than you’d expect here to be sure.

It’s not going to make a dent in the world of special features but it’s solid and the commentary is quite good indeed. Justin Lin, make a bunch more films please!

6.5 out of 10