Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Curiouser and Furiouser: A Fast and Furious Watch - Part 3: Tokyo Drift

Wow.  This movie was so unexpected.  When I added it to my Netflix queue, the title was given 1 star.  Maybe that’s based on my viewing history or something but it totally skewed my perspective going into the film.  I was expecting something pretty bad and instead I got something that was definitely watchable and features my favorite character of the entire series so far.  Which is not to say that the film doesn’t have its problems.  It definitely does.  The biggest problem of the movie by far is that it should have been called Fast and Furious: The Han Show, Also Featuring Some White Guy I Don’t Give the Slightest Fuck About.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  On to the recap.

Yeah yeah I know his name is
Zachary Ty Bryan
The film begins in a strange high school entirely populated by 30 year olds going through metal detectors.  I guess it is a rough neighborhood?  But then everybody drives nice cars.  I don’t get it.  Apparently the football team is the Ducks and they are playing the Indians in an upcoming game and so they beat up a pinata effigy of a super racist Indian caricature.  Oh that kid from Home Improvement who wasn’t Jonathan Taylor Thomas plays the asshole captain of the football team.  I mean at least I assume he was captain of the football team.  At any rate we follow along Blandy Mc-White White our protagonist (whose name is Sean but Jesus Christ is he the most boring fucking guy on the planet) as he goes to auto shop, to class, etc.  It is about 5 minutes into the movie when I realize that there is no Paul Walker in this film and I start to get a little nervous.  If we are supposed to care/ follow this boring guy around an entire movie, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it. Sean is flirting with cheerleader cutie and not-JTT gets all pissed off, starts insulting him and his car.  He and his cronies are about to start a fight when Sean pulls out a fucking wrench making him the most hardcore 30 year old 17 year old on the planet.  Instead cheerleader chick suggests they have a race.  “The winner,” she purrs, “gets me.”  Honey, why are you selling yourself short like this, I wonder.  She is literally offering herself up as a prize.  This is a common trope throughout these films, but this instance was particularly egregious.  

They decide to race in this housing development that is under construction which is a very good idea
as far as not being around a lot of people, though I was very worried about the property damage to some of these nice houses as they raced.  To begin the race, a girl straight up takes off her bra and throws it as a flag?  Ugh.  I wish we could cut to some actual Tokyo Drifting already.  Blah Blah Blah they have a race and their cars get all fucked up and they end up in the police station.  The cop tells Sean that not-JTT will get off because he comes from money, but that he is in deep shit.  Sean’s kind of hot mom comes in and tells him he has fucked up for the last time.  Now he only has one option… which is to go to Japan… as one does?  You fucked up so now you have to leave your beloved shitsburg for beautiful Tokyo.  How… horrible?  

He flies to Japan to stay with a dude I thought was his uncle for like the longest time but I guess it is his dad.  Dad is basically a non existent character.  Shit, Sean is basically a non existent character.  In fact I had to hear his name about 6 times before I realized it was Sean not “John.”  One of the problems with the series in general is that they want to cut to the action so quickly that the characters themselves are just afterthoughts.  Anyway, Dad leaves Sean a note saying that the train for school leaves at 7.  Boy I hope he figures out how to navigate the transit system when he doesn’t speak the language and get to school on time and not fuck up.  I feel like his dad is basically setting him up for failure.  He arrives in class where everyone is speaking Japanese already and he doesn’t get what is going on and there is some fish out of water comedy where he doesn’t know to take off his shoes but like did ANYBODY expect any differently when you just randomly send American kid to Japanese high school with absolutely no prep? There is a cute girl in his class who appears to be mixed race who kind of giggles at his mistakes and I’m thinking this chick is probably the romantic lead.  At lunch, he falls in with Lil Bow Wow, or Bow Wow or whatever his actual name is or name of his character who happens to be the only American there.  They bond over being foreigners and Sean notices Bow Wow has a steering wheel attached to his backpack as one does and then Bow Wow
What in the actual hell is this car?
takes him to a magical rotating garage to show him his car.  His car looks like the Hulk.  There are 3-D Hulk hands somehow welded onto the side of his car.  His car looks like one of those novelty Hot Wheels cars or something that a Hulk-themed energy drink company might have.  It is insane.  I am not even understanding this car in the slightest.  

Bow Wow takes Sean to this street racing hangout place, which is very familiar given all the other previous films, with one notable exception: It is in a parking garage.  Yes, because of the limited street space and crowded nature of Tokyo, these street racers race inside multi level parking garages.  This is where the whole drifting thing comes into play.  Because these racers are going around tight corners so rapidly, they basically need to slide or drift around them in order to maintain speed and not crash.  It is actually pretty cool to watch and the novelty of drifting definitely distinguishes the races in this film from the previous two.  Head bad guy who is referred to alternately as DK and Takashi who sees Sean flirting with chick from class who apparently is his girlfriend.  They are on for a race after a lot of posturing.  Except Sean doesn’t have a car.  Well who should pipe in but DK’s friend
Nom nom nom 
Han, sweet, beautiful, wonderful Han who, like Tyrese before him, is constantly eating throughout the film.  Anyway Han for some wonderful inexplicable reason decides to loan Sean his car so that he can race DK.  I mean like DK and Sean are just sizing each other up and getting in each other’s faces and Han is just fucking chill as shit and gives Sean the keys to his car.  He is the coolest motherfucker on the planet.  The coolest.  

Anyway DK and Sean race and of course Sean has no idea how to drift so that goes very poorly and he totally screws up Han’s car.  Sean apologizes to Han for screwing up his car and Han is like, “Don’t leave town.”  Ugh what a badass.  The next day Han picks Sean up from his house and tells
hahah awkward nudity
him he has to do him a favor.  I start to get worried is Han going to make him beat somebody up?  Is he sending him in to get killed?  No, Han just sent Sean into a bath house place to get money from a giant sumo guy because he thought it was funny and the sumo guy chucks him out but doesn’t even mess him up a little and Han smiles while tossing more food in his mouth as the sumo guy throws him the money and now everybody is friends.  Han is the best.  Have I mentioned that Han is the best?  Han shows Sean his sweet pad and friends including kind of chubby guy and skinny girl (I don’t even know if they have actual lines in the film I wasn’t paying attention).  

"Dreamweaver" begins playing
Now Han, let’s talk about Han.  The previous two films had some homoerotic subtext, but I really cannot see anything that Han does as anything but straight up flirting.  I am not sure if the character is intended to be gay/ bi but man oh man was it hard to view his actions as anything but.  There is just a look in his eye every time he watches Sean.  Also interesting about Han is that he is American.  Sean asks him how he ended up in Japan and Han talks about how in old Westerns the cowboys always run away from their problems in Mexico and this is his Mexico.  Then Sean asks why he gave him his car in the first place when he knew he could fuck it up and Han says, “One car is worth knowing what a man is made of.”  Is Han even real?  He is seriously the coolest. Anyway Han decides to teach Sean to drift and basically the entire second act of the film is an extended training montage of drifting.  It is a long montage but I don’t care because there is a lot of Han in it.  Sean and Han (god they sound like a cute couple don’t they?) race together and Han is seriously flirting hard with him, or if he is not flirting is doing a really bad job of hiding his attraction to him.  

Sean finally gets good enough to race one of DK’s minions and it is at this point that I sort of lose track of the plot and stop caring about anything that doesn’t involve Han.  Sean keeps flirting with the cute chick even though she is DK’s girl and DK is kind of yakuza or his uncle is yakuza or he is a yakuza poseur or whatever.  As is common in courtship rituals, Sean asks the girl to drift for him so they all drift together in a magnificent drifting herd down the side of a mountain.  Sean keeps practicing his drifting and Bow Wow is kind of getting pissed because tires ain’t cheap.  I am really glad they acknowledge the fact that these guys are tearing through tires pretty hard with all this drift nonsense.  DK shows up and beats up Sean and Neela (oh yeah that’s the chick’s name) confronts
him about it.  DK gets pissed off and tells Neela her mom was a whore etc.  Guy is basically typical dickbag.  Then DK’s ACTUAL yakuza uncle shows up and it’s fucking Sonny Chiba dressed in a white suit with a hat like a caricature of a Yakuza and it is perfect.  He’s pretty pissed off at DK’s wannabe gangsta shit and also informs him that Han has been stealing from him.  Han, you stupid, beautiful boy.  

DK goes to confront Han and Sean and pulls a gun on him.  Good thing their cars are nearby so they
So hot.  Literally on fire
drive away fast, drifting along the way.  The setting of the film, in busy Tokyo, makes the racing sequences very tight and claustrophobic.  There are a lot of people and cars on these busy streets, making me actually nervous for bystanders and property.  There is a sequence where a group of about 200 people are walking across a busy street, see the cars coming, and part together like a flock of fucking geese so that the cars can drift through them.  Nobody gets hurt.  How?  Beautifully shot, though, I have to say.  The race intensifies and Hans car flips over and lights on fire.  NOT HAN, I cry in the middle of my living room, NOOOOOOOO!!!!!  You bastards you killed the only interesting part of the movie!! WHY!!!!!  

Sean and Neela make it back to his house and then DK shows up and his dad pulls a gun on him and DK and Neela leave.  Then Sean’s dad, who previously had been kind of pissed at him for all this racing, says he has to leave which I think is a good idea, but Sean says he needs to finish what he started which I guess means avenging Han?  I don’t even know.  Once Han was out of the picture, I have to say I really lost track of/ interest in the plot.  Sean goes to see Bow Wow who gives him a pile of money saying that Han would have wanted you to have this.  K.  Han would have wanted you to have all of this money.  Han left you in his will, Sean.  Sean, Han loved you.  Can’t you see how
Here's your bag of money, dude
much Han loved you?  Han loved you so much.  Sean decides to go and give the money to DK’s uncle, Sonny Chiba, to make up for what Han had done.  There are old timey mob guys twirling chains and wearing matching jackets in the alley to his place.  It is pretty silly.  Sean apologizes to Sonny Chiba and says he will race DK/ Takashi for honor and the loser will leave town or something.  Whatever.  Why isn’t Han there? Why do I have to watch Sean now?  

Anyway it’s a good thing that Sean’s dad has this classic old Mustang he was fixing up that Sean can drive because the cops took all of Han’s other cars.  Yay! DK picks this mountain to race on and
Whatever. I miss Han
Neela tells Sean that he needs to be worried because this is DK’s mountain, he is the only one who has made it to the bottom. Seems like a poorly designed road, then. Bow Wow does something with his super 2005 flip phone and the beacons are lit or something?  Now everyone can see the race on their phones?  Did he put cameras in the cars I don’t even know what is happening with this sequence.  The car duel finale was very dramatic and well shot.  DK’s car falls off a cliff, Sean goes around the corner, almost getting hit by the falling car, and speeds through the finish line.  Whatever.  I don’t care. I miss Han.

Epilogue finds Sean and his friends hanging out, and who should show up but Vin Diesel driving a car that he somehow transported to Japan for racing with.  What follows is a conversation with THE most homoerotic subtext of any exchange in the entire series thus far:

“Nice ride,” Sean comments, eying Dom’s Plymouth up and down as the engine of his own car rumbles beneath him.

“Thanks, I got it from my old friend Han,” Dom replies with a wink.

“I didn’t know he was into American muscle,” Sean replies, gazing at Dom’s ripped biceps and tight shirt.  

“He was when he was with me, “ Dom smiles, fondly recalling an unspoken memory of life with his former lover.  


Just so you know I am not making this up, here is the entire final scene. You tell me.

Stray Thoughts:

  • I did something I have not done so far with this series and read some spoilers online.  SPOILER ALERT - -  Han shows up in the next films.  I am so excited.  Han was the only reason this movie was any good at all
  • Ok but really though, is Han gay?  
  • The actor who played Han was in Better Luck Tomorrow which was also directed by Justin Lin. Great film, everybody should check it out.  In that movie, he also played a character named Han.  Is he playing the same guy?!  Cursory online searching indicates that yes, yes he is.  This is awesome.  I am having a harder time not giving myself spoilers for the rest of the series because I really want to know everything about Han and how awesome he is.  I don’t remember Han in Better Luck Tomorrow being that much of a badass but it has been about 10 years since I have seen it.  I think I need to rewatch for continuity’s sake.  
  • Ok but really though, Sean was such an actively boring lead that I really hope he isn’t in any of the other F/F movies.  What a bland sack of white bread.  

Well that’s it.  Off to Fast and Furious which I have heard is kind of a reboot of the franchise.  If Tokyo Drift was somehow the weakest of the series but featured the amazingness of Han and also a Sonny Chiba cameo then I have high hopes for the remaining movies.

No comments: