For car-lovers, The Fast and the Furious franchise has always provided two necessities: sweet cars and sweet pieces of ass. The first F&F was a cartoony thrill featuring hot American muscle under the hood as well as behind the wheel (Vin Diesel and Paul Walker). The Vin-less sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, faltered from an underwhelming script and over-the-top visuals. But this time around, the franchise has been rebuilt from the ground up—and not only is The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift faster, it's got "furious" to spare.
Lucas Black (who you may remember from the awesome, short-lived TV show American Gothic) is an American hillbilly who can't keep his foot off the pedal, so he's sent to stay with his pop in Tokyo. Though banned from climbing behind the wheel, he falls in with a group of Yakuza-connected street racers who specialize in "drifting"—managing hairpin turns with the perfect application of gas and brake. And while the first two F&Fs were fuel-injected crime sprees, Tokyo Drift is a revved-up, fish-out-of-water story that has more in common with Rebel Without a Cause than The French Connection.
Black is a charmer, as is his co-star Bow Wow—but the entire cast shines, including a menacing Sonny Chiba as the Yakuza boss. But the real star of Tokyo Drift is Tokyo itself—while the sleek Japanese imports in previous F&Fs looked cartoonish in the States, in Tokyo they're right at home alongside the candy-colored pop of sidewalk vending machines and pachinko parlors. Like the city itself, the racing is claustrophobic—a white-knuckled, John Woo-inspired chase through parking garages and curvy mountain passes. At its heart, Tokyo Drift is a giggly videogame of a flick, with hot CG, tight direction, a thoughtful script, and—of course—plenty of sweet cars and sweet ass.