'Drifting' is a particular style of street racing most prevalent in Japan. It involves driving modified cars in extremely tight spaces (often parking garages) with several hairpin curves, forcing the driver to use the hand-brake and a technique called “counter-steering” to slide the vehicle through these curves with great accuracy at high speeds -- usually with several onlookers standing dangerously close to the action. In the movie the suggestion is that it's kind of a Zen thing. This detailed explanation is given not long after Sean (Lucas Black, “Sling Blade”), a troubled American kid, arrives in Tokyo to live with his father, a Navy man, following his ejection from yet another stateside school for reckless driving and an overall funky attitude. The explanation of drifting is infinitely more interesting than any other storyline in this movie, of which there are many. Mostly, they are stories of hard times and alienation told by beautiful young teenagers (all of whom are actually about 25) to each other, as they drive their NINETY-THOUSAND DOLLAR cars into walls, innocent by-standers, and occasionally each other. They are ridiculous stories told in a scripted and rote style by people without the acting skills to soften their delivery. In any case, Sean finds himself almost immediately in conflict with the nephew of a local Yakuza boss. The issue is a girl. They settle it with a race. Guess who wins?
“The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” is not bad because of its trite narrative; indeed, said narrative is tried and true. It's a bad movie because it manages to take these tried-and-true elements -- hunky rebels, hot-chicks and fast cars -- and make them boring. Director Justin Lin (“Annapolis”) once made a good movie -- it's called “Better Luck Tomorrow.”
Starring Lucas Black, Nathalie Kelley, Bow Wow, Brian Tee, Leonardo Nam, Kazuki Namioka, Sung Kang, Sonny Chiba and Vin Diesel. Directed by Justin Lin. Written by Chris Morgan, Alfredo Botello, Kario Salem. Produced by Neal H. Moritz. A Universal release. Action-Thriller. Rated PG-13 for reckless and illegal behavior involving teens, violence, language and sexual content. Running time: 104 min