The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Genre: Action and Crime Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 44 min.

Release Date: June 16th, 2006 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Justin Lin Actors: Lucas Black, Bow Wow, Brian Goodman, Nathalie Kelley, Sung Kang, Leonardo Nam, Brian Tee




hen high school bully Clay (Zachary Bryan) throws a baseball through Sean Boswell’s (Lucas Black) vehicle, a fistfight is avoided in favor of a car race – in which the prize is not the usual pink slips, but Clay’s girlfriend Cindy (Nikki Griffin). “Winner gets me.” Unfortunately for Sean, even though he wins, his record with these sorts of activities isn’t great, forcing his mother to send him to Tokyo, Japan for a clean break from United States legal restitutions.

Once there, his father, Major Boswell (Brian Goodman), promises to look after the boy, though his apartment is cramped and Sean is relegated to a closet for a bedroom. Getting used to the foreign country, the language, the food, and his new classes won’t be easy, despite a quick friendship with Twinkie (Bow Wow), Neela (Nathalie Kelley), and Han (Sung Kang), but it’s the restrictions on his after-school activities that will be most difficult to follow. “I don’t wanna see or hear about you anywhere near a car.”

Rated PG-13 for “reckless and illegal behavior,” it’s not long before the cast is engaged in some extensive, impressive drifting in exceptionally tight spaces, such as a parking structure and obstacle courses, where vehicles crumple like beer cans. Interestingly, the opening race proves that the driving photography has gotten a lot better and certainly more complex. And the crashes and stunts are more convincing, too, not only with either less CG or better blending within those sequences, but also with the stunts and the demolished cars. The focus is, once again, primarily on street racing, so it’s not surprising that that aspect has seen a boost in quality – unlike in virtually every other department (calling this follow-up “3 Fast 3 Furious” seems like a missed opportunity to double down on the silliness).

The scripting definitely hasn’t been blessed with that same attention. Sean can’t seem to keep out of trouble (disregarding authority figures within seconds of being reprimanded), and he’s therefore not terribly sympathetic, since he continues to choose to break the rules, wreck cars, and get caught up in shady underground business dealings, remaining terribly phony as he exclaims that he needs to clean up his messes while continuing to make more of them. He’s a generic, flimsy character with minimal redeeming qualities, even if he’s clearly an isolated underdog in a strange environment. Fortunately, Han is a more alluring, confident, complicated, benefactor persona, despite the easiness of designing someone with unlimited resources and the related unwavering coolness that comes with that – along with his own foolhardy lack of a game plan when it comes to living life so very much on the edge. Likewise, the antagonistic rivals here are just as plain, doing little other than constantly grimacing to prove how evil they are.

But perhaps of greater note is the deviation in subject matter. Fully embracing car culture (the flashiness and the adrenaline and the girls), yet without the over-the-top slang abused in the previous picture, this third chapter dispenses with the undercover cop missions and action-packed showdowns with cartel kingpins to dwell on a specific car community and racing scene that appears initially more grounded than before (though it seems that Yakuza inclusions are unavoidable with the Japanese setting). Those road-based competitions tend to be truer to the ideas that made the franchise successful in the first place, even when an outrageous, last-minute conflict is presented with a preposterous solution – a winner-take-all race, of course – and an absurd implementation.

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10

The Fast & Furious Franchise

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Fast and Furious (2009)

Fast Five (2011)

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Furious 7 (2015)

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

F9 (The Fast Saga) (2021)

Fast X (2023)