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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Justin Lin
Cast:
Lucas Black, Nathalie Kelley, Sung Kang
Writing Credits:
Chris Morgan

Synopsis:
A teenager becomes a major competitor in the world of drift racing after moving in with his father in Tokyo to avoid a jail sentence in America.

Box Office:
Budget
$85 million.
Opening Weekend
$23,973,840 for 3027 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$62,514,415.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish

Runtime: 104 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 3/24/2009

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Justin Lin
• “U-Control” Interactive Feature
• “Making of the Fast Franchise” Featurette
• “A Sideways Craze” Featurette
• “Custom-Made Drifter” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• “Drifting School” Featurette
• “Cast Cam” Featurette
• “The Big Breakdown” Featurette
• “Tricked Out to Drift” Featurette
• “Welcome to Drifting” Featurette
• “The Real Drift King” Featurette
• “The Japanese Way” Featurette
• Music Videos


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift [Blu-Ray] (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 10, 2017)

When 2 Fast 2 Furious hit screens in 2003, it lost most of the 2001 original film’s cast, as only Paul Walker returned. 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift went one better, as it essentially featured no one from the 2001 flick – or 2 Fast, for that matter. Outside of a cameo from a Furious star, this one delivers an entirely new group of actors.

Which might be why Drift bombed. The only Furious that failed to turn a profit, I’m still surprised the franchise didn’t die off after its weak box office showing.

But the series’ 2009 revival will be the subject of another review. For the time being, I’ll concentrate on Drift and its cinematic impact.

When teenager Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) totals his car during an illegal street race, he gets sent to live with his father, United States Navy Lieutenant Boswell (Brian Goodman). This sends Sean to the very foreign shores of Japan.

Despite the shenanigans that landed him in trouble back home, Sean again decides to race, and this leads him to competition with Tokyo’s fastest and most furious. Sean shows talent at this, which pushes him toward trouble with various locals.

As I mentioned at the start, Drift sucked wind at the box office, but in the silver lining category, it did bring director Justin Lin to the franchise. He would lead the series’ reinvigoration with 2009’s Fast and Furious and also direct the highly successful fifth and sixth films as well.

Which was good for his career and for Universal’s bottom line, but right now, we’re concerned solely with Drift, and it fails to do much to entertain. On the positive side, I do feel happy to leave the strained “cops and robbers” world of the first two films, especially because even with 2 Fast, the series started to strain credulity.

Granted, matters would get much more absurd with subsequent films, but it didn’t take long for the franchise to leave behind its original concept. Drift actually manages to live a little more in a believable world, so its shift in settings and characters adds a little spark.

Franchise fans may regard this as heresy, but I also can’t claim to miss the original characters. Maybe others adore Dom, Letty, Brian and the rest, but they never did a lot for me, so I don’t mind the change of participants.

Not that I can claim Sean and the others offer great replacements for Dom and company, as they feel pretty stale and one-dimensional. Sean never becomes more than a borderline juvenile delinquent in a strange land, and even with Black’s best attempts to elevate the part, the character fails to make an emotional dent.

The same goes for the uninspiring narrative, as the plot lacks substance. We get vaguely inspirational slogans and predictable choices, all of which lead us toward a fairly inevitable ending that doesn’t deliver a lot of punch.

This means Drift lives or dies with its driving scenes, and I think those do contribute occasional jolts of energy. To be sure, the movie boasts some great stunts, and at times, those add a layer of excitement to the proceedings.

However, editing choices tend to rob them of their potential impact. Lin cuts from one shot to the next with such alacrity that we don’t absorb the sizzle the racing should deliver.

And that’s a shame, for without fun driving segments, Drift fizzles. The movie could’ve offered a good reinvention of the franchise but instead it ends up as a fairly forgettable diversion.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a good but not great presentation.

Though sharpness usually worked well, some exceptions occurred. This stemmed partly from light edge haloes that I saw at times, and wider shots could be a bit on the soft side.

Still, most of the movie provided appropriate delineation, and I witnessed no signs of jaggies or moiré effects. Print flaws also failed to create distractions here.

The movie’s palette focused on a heavy teal orientation. Other hues cropped up as well – with some orange and ambers along for the ride - but blue/green dominated. Though this felt like an oppressive choice, the Blu-ray reproduced the colors appropriately.

Blacks were fairly deep and dense, and shadow showed pretty good clarity, though some interiors could seem a little murky. In the end, this became a mainly positive picture.

The film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack boasted more consistent pleasures, as the mix made solid use of the many driving scenes. In those, the side and rear speakers became active partners and placed ius amidst the revved-up road action. All of these elements combined to form a smooth, involving soundscape.

Audio quality also worked well, with concise, distinctive speech. Music showed great range and effects offered accurate, dynamic material that kicked out strong low-end. I felt pretty happy with this active soundtrack.

The Blu-ray comes with a slew of extras, and these open with an audio commentary from director Justin Lin. He presents a running, screen-specific look at music, cast and performances, locations and shooting in Tokyo, cars, stunts and action, effects, visual design, and related areas.

Lin gives us a perfectly competent commentary. While he never threatens to make this a truly insightful piece, he manages to offer a good array of notes. All of these mean Lin turns this into a listenable – if somewhat mediocre – discussion.

Like many Universal titles, Drift includes the interactive U-Control. In this case, it breaks into four categories. “Storyboards” appear four times during the film and show the expected art in the upper left part of the screen. They’re a decent addition.

Less useful, “GPS” shows up four times and offers a small visual aid in the upper right corner of the screen. It lets you see the locations of various drivers on a map. It’s too small to give us a useful viewpoint – and would probably lack much value even at a bigger size.

Another mediocre feature, “Tech Specs” pops up seven times throughout the film and offers basics about the cars, with an emphasis on repair costs. This makes it more of an ad for the insurance company that sponsors it that a helpful piece.

Finally, “U-Control” includes “Picture in Picture”. This mixes shots from the set with comments from Lin, writer Alfredo Botello, picture car coordinator Dennis McCarthy, director of photography Stephen Windom, producer Neal Moritz, technical consultant Toshi Hayama, 2nd unit director/stunt coordinator Terry Leonard, lead stunt driver Rhys Millen, stunt driver Tanner Foust, and actors Nathalie Kelley, Lucas Black, Leonardo Nam, Brian Tee, Bow Wow, Jason J. Tobin and Sung Kang.

“PiP” looks at story/characters, cast and performances, cars, stunts and action, sets and locations, visual design, and related subjects.

Most of these “U-Control” PiP features only give us occasional video clips, but this one differs, as footage/interviews appear during virtually the entire film. That makes me happy, as the constant presence of information avoids the frustration factor we usually discover.

As for the quality of the material, it’s perfectly okay. Much of it tends to feel less than substantial, so I can’t claim we learn a ton of great notes – especially because a lot of the info already appears in Lin’s commentary.

Still, we find many glimpses the shoot, and I always enjoy that sort of footage. While not great, this does become a better than average PiP track.

Many featurettes pop up here, and we open with Making of the Fast Franchise. It goes for 17 minutes, two seconds and offers info from Moritz, Black, Lin, Foust, Kelley, Leonard, Hayama, Bow Wow, Kang, filmmakers Rob Cohen and John Singleton, and actors Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Eva Mendes, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Tyrese Gibson.

“Making” offers some basics about the first four Fast movies, one that remains heavy on hype and low on information. It’s a fluffy waste of time.

During the one-hour A Sideways Craze, we hear from drift racers Samuel Hubinette, Ken Gushi, Tsukasa Gushi, and Alex Corstorphine, Alex’s dad Evan, “Drift Day” co-founder Naoki Kobayashi, and model/professional drifter Tyson Beckford. “Craze” gives us a look at drift racing and its professional circuit. We get a decent view of this scene, but “Craze” feels more like an over-amped fan video than an in-depth take on the topic.

With Drifting School, we find a seven-minute, 35-second piece with Tee, Black, Lin, Millen, Bow Wow, Kelley, and actor Zachery Ty Bryan. As expected, this one discusses the actors’ driving training. As usual, a few nuggets emerge but most of “School” offers praise and puffery.

After this we get Cast Cam. This four-minute, 19-second reel shows actor-shot footage from the set. It’s silly and forgettable.

The Big Breakdown lasts eight minutes, 26 seconds and involves Lin, Windon, Leonard, and Millen. “Breakdown” offers specifics about the shooting of one particular scene. It gives us good info and becomes one of the disc’s better featurettes.

Up next we find Tricked Out to Drift, an 11-minute reel with McCarthy, Kang, Lin, Black, Leonard, Millen, Bow Wow, Tee, Foust, Hayama and Kelley. “Drift” examines some of the movie’s cars and turns into a moderately engaging featurette.

In a similar vein, Welcome to Drifting goes for six minutes, 17 seconds and involves Lin, Kelley, Hayama, Leonard, Foust, Millen, and Bow Wow. As expected, this one tells us more about the drifting techniques. It complements the other shows fairly well.

During the three-minute, 38-second The Real Drift King, we hear from Leonard, Lin and stunt driver Keiichi Tsuchiya. We learn a little about Tsuchiya and see his work in the film but we don’t learn much from the short featurette.

Finally, The Japanese Way takes up nine minutes, 45 seconds with notes from Lin, Tee, Black, Leonard, Kelley, Windon, costume designer Sanja Hayes, Japanese translator Michi Ukawa, 1st AD (Japan) Taniguchi Masayaki, production assistant Jimmy Tagashi, and 1st AD Gary Marcus. “Way” explores aspects of shooting in Japan, and it does so in a reasonably concise manner.

11 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 18 minutes, 16 seconds. These tend to offer minor character beats and extra exposition. Some of these connect a few dots, but I can’t claim we find anything substantial here.

We can view the scenes with or without commentary from Lin. He tells us a little about the clips and why they didn’t make the final cut. Lin delivers some useful notes.

Custom-Made Drifter provides an interactive domain. It lets you modify a racecar and then see it integrated into a short movie scene. It’s not exactly fascinating, but I admit the CG car you assemble fits into the film better than expected.

The package concludes with two Music Videos. We get clips for Don Omar’s “Conteo” and Far*East Movement’s “Round Round”. Both offer low-budget affairs that mix movie footage with lip-synch performances and sexy women. The songs and videos seem forgettable at best.

With a new cast and setting, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift boasts the potential to revive the franchise. Unfortunately, it flops due to stale characters and situations, none of which the action scenes can redeem. The Blu-ray brings us largely good picture and exciting audio along with a long but somewhat superficial set of supplements. I don’t know if Drift is the weakest Furious flick, but it lacks much to make it memorable.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main