Surprisingly good - Sung Kang steals the show7/10
I'm getting the feeling that the majority of reviews here as of June 14th are bogus. Why write a review if you've only seen the trailer for the film? Anyway, I had the opportunity to see this movie yesterday. Yeah, this is the one of those film series people will hate before seeing. It's over the top, has cheesy dialogue, and has an unlikeable protagonist. With that said, it's actually pretty entertaining, and isn't all that bad.
We are introduced to Sean Boswell (Lucas Black), a high school kid who can't seem to find his niche in life. He's moved from town to town with his divorced mother, and getting into problems with the law, before finding himself in Southern California. The California scenes pay homage to Justin Lin's earlier film, Better Luck Tomorrow, almost feeling like an extension of that film. We see the crowds of students in the courtyard, almost peripheral to a particular point in time. Moving to California doesn't change anything, and Sean, the outsider, finds himself racing Clay (Zachery Ty Bryan, from Home Improvement), a rich kid who has it all, including a brand new Dodge Viper.
In trouble with the law yet again, Sean finds himself moving to Japan, for reasons that aren't particularly clear. We don't know exactly why he *had* to move; however, it doesn't really matter anyway.
Sean continues to find himself as an outsider. From his distant father, to his language barrier, to being unfamiliar with traditional customs. Unlike other particular American films, the culture of Japan was portrayed in a positive light. This was particularly refreshing, as the food jokes, Engrish jokes, height jokes, etc. have become very tiresome over the years.
Sean meets Twinkie (Lil Bow Wow), and Han (Sung Kang), the latter of which appears to be the same character from Better Luck Tomorrow. Both Twinkie and Han serve as guides or mentors to Sean, as he becomes more familiar with Japan, school, drifting, and its associated group. In retrospect, Twinkie seems like an unnecessary character, and quickly gets shelved to Sung Kang's Han, who steals the show like a pimp.
Sean also meets, and is attracted to Neela (Nathalie Kelley), who is the girlfriend of DK (Brian Tee). DK is a nickname for "Drift King." Sean quickly realizes this as he loses badly to him in his first race in Japan (and smashing up Han's S15 badly). The altercation between Sean and DK heats up leading to the climax of the film.
Sean Boswell is an unlikeable character. His mannerism is interesting during the California scenes and you actually do get to like him, however he quickly outwears his welcome. From his unjustified temper, to his grating southern accent, Han becomes more of the likable protagonist.
The dialogue was cheesy as hell too (remember the "I'm free" line from the first one? This is worse - the moonlight drifting scene is embarrassingly bad).
Character development is too hurried at times, much like this review.
As with Kill Bill, Sonny Chiba is as charming as ever, this time playing a Yakuza boss, who happens to be the uncle of DK.
Now, the racing scenes were actually not that bad. Compared to the outlandish effects of the first two FF films, Tokyo Drift is pretty understated.
Racing-wise, this was a vendor-fest. 350Z's (VERY prominently displayed), RX-8's, and an EVO. Other than that, there was an R34 GT-R, S15, and the Veilside RX-7. That's really about it (with the obvious exception of the Mustang). I think I saw a glimpse of an AE86 hatch.
Will it make people drift in the parking lot leaving the theatre? Yes. In fact, I saw some guy in a Camry attempting to do so.
Will it spark interest in the vendor-sponsored cars? Probably.
Will it increase resale value of your S13 or AE86? Probably not.
Finally, there are two notable cameos in this film (among others). The first cameo has to do with "DK" (not the film character). The second cameo ties the film to its predecessor. Both appearances were pretty well done and drew laughter from the crowd.