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

Lucas Black is a 24-year-old high school ne’er-do-well who gets super-expelled to Japan after racing a jock with a convertible. Once in his new digs he meets 19-year-old high school student Li’l Bow Wow. Together, with the help of Han (Sung Kang), they face off against 29-year-old high school student Takashi, a local yakuza lord, who is such a super amazing racer that he is known as DK, or Drift King. It’s sort of about growing up.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift was a franchise experiment in the vein of Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Unlike the latter, however, Tokyo Drift was not produced by a studio fueled by coke, LSD and a seething hatred for children, Halloween and Druidism. Continue reading

Fast Five (2011) Retro Review

After freeing Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) from a prison bus (in one of the most unrepentantly physics-defying maneuvers in cinema history), Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordanna Brewster) flee to South America. It doesn’t take long for these outlaws to get involved in a Brazilian car heist that goes horribly wrong. They inadvertently steal a car belonging to Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), the man who essentially runs Rio. The gang discovers that the car contains information on all of Reyes’ secret money laundering operations. Dom and Brian hatch a plan to steal Reyes’ ill-gotten gains in one final criminal act, but they can’t do it alone. They assemble a crew from all the franchise’s previous entries. However, they’re also being tracked by DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), and he’s a really big guy with a really big gun.

Fast Five surprised the hell out of everybody with how bombastic, anarchic, wild and just plain big it was willing to be. It was commercially and even critically lauded and went on to become the seventh-highest grossing film of 2011. Continue reading

Fast & Furious (2009) Retro Review

Five years after escaping LA, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is running a crew of criminals, hijacking fuel tankers south of the U.S. border alongside his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and partner Han (Sung Kang). But the fuzz is still after Dom, so he chooses to cut ties and leave Letty all his cash. Unfortunately, Letty dies soon after returning to LA, and Dom doesn’t think it’s an accident. He returns to the U.S. to seek his revenge, where he meets up with Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), back in the FBI and hot on the tail of crime lord Arturo Braga – the man who may have ordered Letty’s death. Dom and Brian form an uneasy alliance. Also, there is car racing.

There is one excellent car race in this film. There are several scenes of vehicular mayhem, but the main event takes place right in the middle of the story when O’Connor and Dom go head to head to see which will become Braga’s newest wheelman. This isn’t a ten-second race; it is a screaming joyride across LA with mostly practical effects and many, many accidents. Continue reading

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) Retro Review

After handing Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) the keys to his 3-T-4 Turbo, Dual Wet-Shot Nitrous-Engage Toyota Supra, Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) flees Los Angeles and the FBI. He takes refuge in Miami, Florida, earning money from illegal street races. When the U.S. Customs Service finally tracks him down, they give him a choice: Either help Miami police arrest drug lord Carter Verone (Cole Hauser) or do hard time. O’Connor agrees to go undercover as a driver on the condition that he can enlist his former best friend Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) as his partner. Pearce totally hates O’Connor’s guts now, but soon the two are wheeling, dealing and calling each other “bre” again. Also, Eva Mendes plays an undercover Customs agent that loves O’Connor. Or maybe not.

So here we are. It’s 2003 and Vin Diesel says no to a second go at the Fast franchise. He and Rob Cohen decide to make xXx instead, leaving the director and supporting actor roles for John Singleton and Tyrese Gibson to fill. Continue reading

The Fast and the Furious (2001) Retro Review

Around the Los Angeles area, big rigs are getting hijacked by black Honda Civics. They work as a team, heavily modified and steered by precision drivers. LAPD detective Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) is sent in to the underground world of LA’s street racing scene to find the perpetrators – believed to be notorious street racer Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew. Hot headed and addicted to speed, Brian infiltrates the crew with ease, but soon falls for Dominic’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster). He also falls for Dom and company, jeopardizing his standing with the LAPD, the FBI, and endangering his mission.

I don’t know much about cars, and I’ve heard tell that a lot of the moto-speak in this film is either outdated or wrong. I couldn’t tell you either way. I can tell you why it’s so damn entertaining, and that’s because The Fast and the Furious revels in its love of fastness and furiousness. Continue reading