"Stuck in the Fast Lane"
What You Need To Know:
TOKYO DRIFT's depiction of the underground racing culture glorifies a hedonistic machismo that exalts in breaking rules, using violence and treating women as sexual objects. It is exactly what it wants to be – a loud, raucous, mile-a-minute blast that manages to conjure just enough plot to link the car racing scenes together. Fans of speed, cars and male bravado will not be disappointed, though there is little else that could pass for substance. TOKYO DRIFT makes illegal street racing look very cool, so it could be very dangerous for parents to let their teenage boys see it.
(PaPa, B, Ho, LL, VV, S, N, A, D, MM) Mostly strong pagan worldview mixed with some traditional moral elements such as allusions to codes of masculine honor and the importance of character and a strong father figure, but the virtues most extolled are those of a racing subculture – speed, prowess, money, power, defiance of authority, and machismo, plus hedonism is celebrated and a lawless, fantasy-underworld lifestyle is glorified, and homosexual element where two teenage girls are shown kissing in room; 24 obscenities (including four "s" words over end credits) and one light profanity; strong violence and intense car race sequences including at least three very serious car accidents and an explosion in which serious injury and death occur, three fistfights in which several brutal punches draw blood, guns are pointed at people’s heads as well as fired by villain at speeding vehicles, and villains cheat during illegal street racing by dangerously bumping the hero's car; seductive glances by “car babes,” scores of scantily clad young women in several dance-party scenes, several gratuitous shots of short skirts and female cleavage, implied fornication with a prostitute, a girl offers herself as the prize for the winner of a race, and a brief lesbian homosexual kiss; no explicit sexual nudity except for some female cleavage, midrifts and thighs, plus a close-up of a fat man’s chest in a bathhouse scene; alcohol is present in many scenes and father has several bottles of beer alone in his house waiting for unruly son to come home; a mobster smokes a cigar; and, strong miscellaneous immorality such as lots of illegal street racing and a chase scene, son disobeys father's command to stop illegal street racing and women are treated as sexualized objects or prizes for men to win through their racing skill and masculine bravado.
The famously cynical William Faulkner once said that all an American really loves is his car. THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT, the latest installment of the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise, sets out to prove this also holds for the Japanese.
It’s the story of Sean Boswell (Lucas Black), a high schooler with a Texas drawl, who pulls one illegal racing stunt too many. His mom ships Sean off to live with his estranged father in Tokyo, where, to dad’s chagrin and no one’s surprise, he’s immediately caught up in the Tokyo underworld of drift racing. Sean’s entanglement in mobster affairs sets up numerous opportunities for him to race his way out of peril, but the plot and characters are really just excuses to hear tires shriek, see fast cars go fast and watch macho boys test their prowess and manhood behind the wheel. While Sean is clearly a fish-out-of-water, the film makes almost no credible effort to explore cultural differences or educate viewers about life in Japan.
The movie’s depiction of underground racing culture emphasizes and often glorifies a hedonistic machismo that exalts in breaking rules, using violence and treating women as sexual objects. While Sean’s character does seem to follow a certain code of honor (taking responsibility for one’s actions, defending one’s friends), much of the movie’s message seems to validate a self-glorifying, survival-of-the-fittest hedonism. “All that matters is knowing what you want and going after it,” Sean says at one point.
The violence comes mostly from the intense car racing and chase scenes including some very realistic and spectacular crashes, one of which leaves a character dead. There are several fistfights, and guns are both pointed at people’s heads and one is shot from speeding cars by the villain.
Though well-acted, TOKYO DRIFT is exactly what it wants to be – a loud, raucous, mile-a-minute blast which manages to conjure just enough plot to link the car racing scenes together. Fans of speed, cars, and male bravado will not be disappointed though there is little else in this movie that could pass for substance. TOKYO DRIFT makes illegal street racing look very cool, so it could be very dangerous for parents to let their teenage boys see it.