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marcie’s idiot pick of the week: the fast and the furious, tokyo drift

Posted by rollinsloane on 27 October 2007

This evening, for reasons not even time could ever possibly tell, my much-beloved but obviously glue-sniffing roommate Marcie brought home the cinematic travesty that is The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and suggested we all hunker down for a popcorn fest. With her penchant for studly jawbones (provided here by Friday Night Lights‘ Lucas Black) and apparent disdain for thinking, Marcie is the target audience for this car racing spectacular. Me, I actually like movies – this constitutes slumming to the ultimate degree. But it had Tokyo in the title. I watched.

Boy gets in trouble with cops for illegal street-racing. Boy flees to Tokyo. Boy gets in trouble with Japanese mafia for more street-racing. Lots of squealing brakes and revving engines ensue; freshman writer Chris Morgan isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel (pun totally intended) with this little dramatic number. But he and director Justin Lin do achieve some degree of cinematic significance — I haven’t seen females so reduced to accessories since I stopped watching rap videos.

A race is not a race, apparently, unless the drivers have a comely sexual conquest at stake, and a plot device that rolled my eyes in Rebel Without a Cause sure isn’t winning any more points in 2006. Someone get Maureen Dowd on the phone immediately. Even the strange glee of watching Lucas out-race the oldest Home Improvement brother was soured by the caricature cheerleader who blatantly put herself on offer as trophy cup. Our leading lady, the improbably named Neela, is given the typical teen-movie trappings of girl-power: a minimal knowledge of cars, dark hair, the status of being official girlfriend to these modern gangsters instead of mere moll. But the difficult past that supposedly makes up her backstory (mama worked a hostess bar! ) is downright head-scratching when every other woman on display is a socially-accepted escort-for-hire.

I mean, I hate to be a sopping wet blanket here. Of the characters that the filmmakers deigned to decently flesh out (ie. the male ones), there were some notables:

  • Sung Kang, as a do-gooder thug, who’d surely be in greater leading man demand were Hollywood not so insistent that Asians stick to niche roles
  • Bow Wow, formerly L’il (always in my heart), who acquitted himself quite neatly as the Amusing Sidekick
  • Brian Tee, as insecure asshole bad guy (he practically enslaves Neela!), who, with a sculptured face of deeply exaggerated villainy, will gradually age into a terrific go-to baddie
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