Making Sense Of The Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift

“I have money, it’s trust and character I need around me. You know, who you choose to be around, lets you know who you are,” wise words spoken from a beloved Fast and Furious character. The Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift, directed by Justin Lin, is the third installment to the racing franchise and probably the most overlooked. The film received very mixed reviews as it was seen as more of a spin off from the actual movie series taking place in a different country with new characters. YouTubers Dylan Campbell, CinemaSins, Durbania, Jessica Hitt and Kinda Funny share reviews and first-time reactions to the film.

Han is such a cool character, he’s just naturally cool … he’s like George Clooney or Brad Pitt from Oceans 11 … he’s the most memorable and interesting character in this movie.

Han, played by actor Sung Kang, was everyone’s favorite character and everyone’s favorite aspect of this film. The majority of the YouTubers felt Sung Kang did a great job in portraying Han as one of the most developed and engaging characters in which he was actually playing a supporting role. As a first-time watcher, YouTuber Durbania even compared him to Vin Diesel in saying Han was the mentor to Sean (Lucas Black), like Dominic (Vin Diesel) was the mentor to Brian (Paul Walker).

I really loved Han, I cannot believe how fast I got attached to Han in so short a time.

YouTubers Kinda Funny described Han as the cool older cousin that everyone looked up to and wanted to be like, “he just feels like the older cousins that you wanted to hang out with and be immersed in their world and see what their lives are like.” There were groans of disappointment echoed from YouTuber Jessica Hitt and the guys from Kinda Funny when the character was eventually killed off because they felt his storyline is what really carried the film:

Han’s death is the thing that makes this movie decent … it propels the movie and makes it feel like it matters … Han is what makes the movie decent … there are stakes where characters that you fall in love with can die … it made the movie more enjoyable even though it was very sad.

Unfortunately, our main character Sean was the least liked by the YouTubers and his casting as well as lack of character development was probably the biggest negative critique of the film. Sean, played by actor Lucas Black, was described as uninteresting and easily forgettable according to YouTuber Dylan Campbell, who went on to compare him to Paul Walker’s performance in the first film in the franchise:

Like in the beginning he was kind of just a cool silent type and then they make him talk … he’s kind of a dull dude … it’s sort of like Paul Walker’s character, he’s not very interesting.

All of the YouTubers felt Sean could have been casted by a different actor, especially one that looked more like a high school aged person. The YouTubers found it hard to believe that Lucas Black could pass as someone in high school:

It starts with this kid who in real life is 24, but he looks about 34 and he’s playing a 17-year-old.

With so little backstory about Sean explained, YouTuber CinemaSins argued that much of the scenarios in the film were unrealistic and just too cliché. Like how is it a kid who has never drifted before racing in a city that he is brand new to and did not kill himself or anyone else, “it’s literally insane that Sean doesn’t kill anyone during this race, with his lack of drift knowledge and all.” Another unrealistic scenario comes up with Sean goes to a club filled with beautiful girls and all he can pay attention to are the rows of souped up cars:

Ok, cars are great and all, but I have trouble believing that a heterosexual 18-year-old dude can take his eyes off 2 beautiful women who are giving him attention to go look at some cars.

Because of the lack of Sean’s backstory, Jessica Hitt felt Sean was always trying to prove himself and didn’t understand why. Prove his coolness. Prove his ability as a street racer. Prove his masculinity. Why? And to whom?

The film was released in 2006 when mobile technology was just starting to take off. YouTubers CinemaSins and Kinda Funny found it odd and confusing as to how it was possible for characters in the end racing scene to watch the race through their early model flip phones. How is everyone watching the race when there was clearly no one out on the dark mountain to record it?

Everyone’s got their Motorola razors out and they have figured out somehow this multibillion-dollar technology where you can just at the touch of a button switch between people’s feeds … even though they are literally seeing things on a dark road where no one is at.

Despite some negative feedback on the film, most of the YouTubers agreed that the one thing this film did right was the fantastic cinematography directed by Justin Lin. In comparison to the first two films in the franchise, they noted the different style of the film matched the overall theme. The story took place on a different side of the world, with a different type of racing and with different cast of characters.

The whole thing with drifting brought in such a different element to this movie for me, the races all looked different and they were done different.

Durbania and his friend Matic noted the unique camera work and angle shots along with sound design really elevated the film during some of the grander racing scenes when the characters are drifting through the mountain or racing through a crowded intersection in the heart of Tokyo. One of the guys from Kinda Funny felt the film was well structured and from a cinematic standpoint, really showcased this new culture well:

I feel like this is the first movie that we really get kind of introduction to the world of what Fast and Furious will become … this is the movie that is most about racing … we get the most races, the most races that actually mean something … the drift mechanics as well … this movie does a lot right.

Though the overall consensus of the film was quite mixed and averaged a rating of about a C+, most of the YouTubers agreed it was underrated, better than the first two films, but not the best in the franchise. YouTubers Dylan Campbell, CinemaSins, Jessica Hitt, Durbania and Kinda Funny rate and review movies on their channels weekly.