When 17-year-old Sean Boswell gets into trouble with the police one too many times, his mother sends him to Japan to live with his father in an attempt to straighten him out. While there, he meets fellow American student, Twinkie, who introduces Sean to Tokyo’s drift racing scene. Sean is immediately drawn in but soon gets on the wrong side of ‘D.K.’, a drifting expert with links to the local Yakuza. D.K.’s business partner, Han, takes a liking to Sean and teaches him how to drift but Sean’s interest in the beautiful Neela and his inability to stop racing places him and his friends in terrible danger.

The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) – Director: Justin Lin

Is The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift appropriate for kids

Rating: 12

Running Length: 104 mins

Starring: Lucas Black, Sung Kang, Brian Tee

Genre: Action

 

REVIEW

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift could be called the first sign that this was a franchise that was going to keep going and going (and going). With a whole new set of characters there is barely a reference to the previous two films, bar the set up of souped up cars and the world of illegal street racing. O’Conner (played by Paul Walker) is not here, and neither is Toretto (Vin Diesel). The lead character this time around is Sean, played by Lucas Black, in a somewhat questionable choice as a teenager (apparently) who rebels by getting into much car related trouble. Rebels against what, you might ask? Well, to drop in a quote, ‘Whaddya got?’.

It has to be said that ‘Tokyo Drift’ represents a remarkable amount of foresight being displayed by the writers of the franchise; the events of ‘Tokyo Drift’ – the third movie, occur after ‘Fast & Furious 6’. This makes things somewhat confusing in terms of the timeline, however, it doesn’t affect the movie itself. Widely recognised as the worst of the series, it isn’t a great film. Too much time is given to the races which barely change from one to another. The character of Sean, played by Lucas Black, is thoroughly unlikable and quite boring so when he gets into trouble due to his own arrogance and stupidity it is difficult to care about his predicament. His character’s explanation for acting out appears to be purely that his parents are divorced, despite the fact that both parents are shown to be loving and supportive. Truth be told, Sean is the conduit through which the plot can occur, nothing more.

One thing we enjoyed about this film is that the camera clearly does love Tokyo. There are plenty of fast past cuts showing colourful buildings, the famous street crossing at Shibuya and a variety of uniquely Japanese technology. The rotating car parking system gets a moment of glory, and Sean wearing a Japanese school uniform and trying to blend in is quite amusing, not least because Black is clearly too old, regardless of what the movie is trying to make us believe! The movie knows that it isn’t doing anything particularly different and so it does try to use the neon-filled backdrop as an exercise in variety.

Tokyo Drift’ certainly doesn’t step away from the franchises’ tradition of stereotyping, this time Japan’s Yakuza get the ‘Fast & Furious’ treatment. While Yakuza wannabe ‘D.K.’ is extremely aggressive, he doesn’t actually do anything to deserve his reputation other than being good at drifting. The movie’s obsession with using the Japanese word ‘Gaijin’ (foreigner) becomes tedious, especially as the whole point of the movie is that Sean IS an outsider so him taking exception to being called this is odd. This movie’s target audience is very definitely teenage boys; the car chases alone are likely to be off-putting for anyone else.

IS ‘THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

The movie starts with Sean arriving at school, beginning with him walking through a metal detector; he is then seen in a classroom and watches as several boys hold another boy while they spray paint his stomach. This boy is clearly distressed by this and struggles against them. At the end of the day, Sean flirts with a teenage girl and, when her boyfriend confronts Sean and attacks his car, she offers herself as a prize for the winner of a car race between the two boys. The race is started by another teen girl who removes her bra and throws it into the air (this is done under her top and therefore there is no nudity). Throughout the race, whenever Sean gains the upper hand the girl from earlier turns to her boyfriend and says things along the lines of, “Don’t you want to win me?”. The race is very aggressive and ends with both cars crashing, however, other than a few cuts and bruises no-one is seriously injured. There is also a lot of damage to property in this scene and the objectifying of a girl for a ‘prize’ is something you may be uncomfortable with your children seeing, despite the fact that she is doing it to herself.

When Sean first arrives at his father’s place in Tokyo, a woman wearing a low-cut dress leaves the apartment. She looks ashamed and walks away quickly and while nothing is mentioned in the dialogue, it would appear that this woman may have been a prostitute. Later in the movie, a male character becomes very aggressive towards a teenage girl and insults her mother, saying that she was ‘the best trick in Kabukicho’ (which is an area of Tokyo notorious for its seedy nightlife).

As is typical with ‘The Fast & The Furious’ movies, there is plenty of sexism throughout the film. Women and teenage girls wear revealing clothes, are seen to bend over cars in short skirts and one girl kisses a boy who grabs her behind. There are various occasions when Sean walks into a party to find it crammed full of scantily clad women gyrating. One such scene is explained away by stating that “models get sick of being hit on, so they come here to relax”, which seems a flimsy excuse to pack a room with a bunch of models! The level of sexualisation is what you would expect and does not go beyond suggestive dancing and knowing looks, but it is sustained for a 5 minutes scene.

There is also a brief shot of a female couple kissing passionately against a wall, a male character walks passed them and jokingly says ‘easy now ladies’. While this isn’t explicit or offensive and not done for male titillation, parents could find themselves being asked questions from children who may wonder why two women are kissing.

Sean spends much of the film being attracted to Neela, whose boyfriend is D.K., the cocky kid with ties to the Yakuza. Around half way through the movie Sean incurs the wrath of D.K. who storms into his garage and beats him. This scene shows Sean being punched in the face repeatedly and he is left with blood over his mouth and nose.

There is also one ‘bad’ character who constantly spits on people as a way of asserting superiority. You may or may not find this important but we know some parents who dislike the prevalence of spitting and so we point it out for that reason.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

Tokyo Drift’ is a movie that doesn’t set its sights too high. While its target audience is teen boys, it is perhaps unfair to say that all teen boys will automatically like it for this reason. However, it doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t and anyone looking for lots of car chases won’t be disappointed. Due to the treatment of most female characters as mere eye-candy and otherwise adult themes, we would not recommend this movie for kids aged below the age of 12.

  • Violence:  2/5 (there are a couple of instances where characters are beaten badly. After one of the beatings the attacker threatens to put the victim in a wheelchair)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (one character is killed during a car chase and their friends mourn their loss)
  • Fear Factor: 2/5 (D.K. is particularly threatening and intimidating and his links to the Yakuza make him very dangerous)
  • Sexual Content: 2/5       
  • Bad Language: 3/5 (infrequent mild and moderate cursing and blasphemy throughout, one use of a strong word)
  • Dialogue: 2/5 (references to prostitution and violence)  
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of taking responsibility for your actions, standing up for yourself, protecting the people you care about and thinking of others.

Words by Laura Record

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