Cover Art and Menu: 5/10
The cover is the cover. It’s got hot sexy hip action flick slammered all over it. Fair enough. The Menus are actually pretty boring considering the franchise. It’s all pretty functional and ho-hum. It doesn’t do much to get me excited for the movie, that’s for sure.
- Deleted Scenes – They have given us a few more tid bits about the story and the characters hidden away in these deleted scenes. Sometimes a director or studio, or whoever cuts stuff out that is crap, but then there are some scenes I think would have added something to the final movie. While some of the deleted scenes might have offered something to the movie, a couple of the deleted scenes do have a bit more campiness about them. I think the tone of the movie is more serious, or at least, not goofy, and the couple of more comedic scenes would have brought the whole thing down.
- Tricked Out To Drift Featurette – In this extra we get the low down on how they chose the different cars for each character.
- The Japanese Way Featurette – A lot of the movie was shot in Japan so the whole cast and crew spent some time in Tokyo. This extra follows them around and shows the cultural education they all experienced while they made the film. The director talks about how a lot of the film had to be done ‘guerilla style” because the laws in Japan give the citizens their right to go about their business and not have to accommodate any little American film crew..haha
- Drifting School Featurette – The cast did learn to drift all on their own and in this featurette we get to follow along as they learn from the world’s best. Even though most of the real drifting was done by the pros, the actors did learn how to move and react in their fake car for the close up scenes.
- The Big Breakdown Han’s Last Ride Featurette – When we watch movies do we even notice that it takes several identical cars to do the stunts and action of one car in the movie? Well, watch this extra and you will learn about the fleets of cars they got to rig and destroy for this, and other scenes in the film.
- The Real Drift King Featurette – Playing a bit part in the film, the real real life Japanese Drift King does a few of the drifting scenes himself. He helps train the cast, and then they put him in a car in the mountains above Tokyo to do his stuff. It’s pretty cool to see one of the original people who started such a big craze that pretty much drifted across the world…oh, that’s so clever.
- Music Video – bleck Director Commentary – This guy loved making this movie, or so it seems from his commentary. He talks about some technical stuff, and a lot about the experience of making a big Hollywood film downtown Tokyo. If you liked the film the first time it’s well worth another watch to listen to the commentary.
The Movie: 7/10
Turning my nose up as I sit in my comfy home theater recliner. I grab my bowl of popcorn and slide my carbonated beverage into the cool cup holder in the arm of my chair. I’m sure I’ll hate it, but it’s Saturday night and sometimes it’s good to watch a testosterone infused movie to get in touch with my masculine side. The husband is excited, you see, he’s a male human and any sign of fast cars, loud music, and scantily clad women flicks his switch.
The kid from Sling blade is the main guy, so that’s cool. I like him. He was good in Remember the Titans. Maybe this movie is salvageable. The lights go down, the menu pops up, Mr. HDDVD presses play and we’re off to the movies.
Imagine my surprise in the first few seconds when the music, and a hint of style caught my attention. We meet our leading man as he is ushered into his high school through a metal detector, and closely watching all of the normal boring high school antics. Jocks, geeks, cheerleaders, all hanging out being stupid. It’s obvious right away that this young man we are following through a musical montage is not like the other kids.
Soon enough he’s in the first race of the movie against some jock, who happens to be the oldest kid from Home Improvement, and after it all ends badly the only way out of a jail sentence is to go to Japan to live with his father.
So, we have a trouble making 17 year old who likes to race his car, has a southern accent, and a mother who’s slightly below middle class, or so they want us to believe from her clothing, and shameless flirting with the cop who’s about to lock up her son.
His father lives in a very small apartment and isn’t the most welcoming to his troublemaking son who has a lot of cultural and social lessons to learn now that he’s in Japan. We watch him struggle with transportation, language, and going to a new school. Lucky for him there’s a gorgeous young lass in his class who catches his eye and later becomes the hot chick of the movie. What a coincidence.
So, by now, I’m eating my popcorn like a robot, drinking my soda and digging the movie. I can admit when I am wrong about a movie, if nothing else. The music is a plus and as our hero guy gets lead into the underground world of drifting, racing, and other things, we follow. It’s how a movie is made that can turn things from potential crap into something fun, dynamic, and entertaining.
From the moment Sling blade boy trashes his first car, meets the rich but dangerous guy who agrees to teach him to drift, and comes across the token American loudmouth dude who can get you anything from new Air Jordan’s to an imported IPod, I relaxed and let the movie do it’s thing. No more turned up nose and no more snotty expectations. I was officially having a good time.
Through the story we meet the bad guy, the aforementioned sexy chick, the good guy with a past, and a few other colorful characters. It’s the races, the music and Lucas Black (Sling blade boy) that keep this film together for me. The story is standard, fish out of water kind of thing, but some of the action and the choices of the characters don’t follow the same old same old movie routine. In the end, however, the payoff will be a big race, of course.
The look is stylish, but not too much. I love that it’s set in Japan with so much of the city and real culture for the backdrop. There’s not a lot of manufactured sets in this movie, which I love. They did rebuild downtown Tokyo for a big chase sequence, but for the up close scenes throughout the movie you get a real sense of the differences between our American small town guy and the people he’s now surrounded by. Fish out of water is an old tool for movies, but this time I think it works because he’s not a caricature and they don’t pull the boring one liners and stupid jokes at anyone’s expense.
In the end I was left wanting more, so that’s not only amazing, but a good sign that when the next Fast and the Furious sequel comes out I won’t be so quick to judge. But wait, isn’t that Vin Diesel guy supposed to come back to the franchise. I think my nose just returned to the upright position.
For around 20 bucks I think this is more of a rental. It’s not a classic or so good that I want it on my shelf for the rest of my life. If you have to collect whole series, then add this one to the Fast and the Furious section of your collection. It does have some good extras, but the movie itself isn’t one I would watch over and over. Now my husband, he might disagree. He has a tendency to slip a few of these guy movies in the player now and again to test out new speakers or HDDVD updates…you know what I’m saying. I would like to see it at $10, but that’s not gonna happen.
Overall Score 7/10