The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift is not as solid as the previous two in the Furous series, but the addition of a totally new local does add quite a bit to the film’s strength. Anyhow, Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) is your typical high school character. He loves fixing his car, racing and subsequently gets into a lot of trouble. After ‘gawking’ at the girlfriend of Clay (Zachary Ty Bryan), an immediate race occurs through the backlot of a new development. Chaos ensues and the police, due to Sean’s high…trouble rate, end up sending Sean to live with his father in Tokyo. So let me understand this… If I were to get into a lot of trouble and my father lived in a foreign country, I would avoid jail time and get to go stay with him? Riggghhhttt.
Anyhow, besides this minor story flaw, Sean soon arrives in Tokyo and promises his father he won’t do any street racing. Obviously Sean quickly becomes involved in an underground “drifting” racing scene (which is totally new to him) after meeting Twinkie (Bow Wow). For some reason, Sean gets to prove himself by racing the ultra famous Drift King (Brian Tee) who goes by DK. Han (Sung Kang), one of DK’s friends, (Sung Kang) lets Sean borrow his vehicle. It being Sean’s first time “Drifting”, he ends up destroying Han’s car. To repay his debt, Han enlists Sean as his new boy. The two quickly develop a friendship and Han decides to have Sean become one of his racers, but first Sean must learn the art of drifting.
New Director Justin Lin hasn’t really had many breakout films in his career. If Tokyo is a sign of what Lin can do, I’m sure that the rest of his films will be interesting. Lin is successful at presenting another portion of the series in a very interesting locale where the city of Tokyo is brought to life in a great manner. Fearing that this film would rely on more of the flashy cars instead of a story, I was pleasantly surprised that the film contained a decent story. Nothing felt out of place and the film flowed well. If you’ve seen the first two films in the series, Drift is worth checking out – the acting is at times suspect and the story has some holes, but it is visually appealing and a fun flick.
Tokyo Drift arrives courtesy of Universal Studios in a 1080p 2:35:1 widescreen aspect ratio. I don’t even know where to begin with the transfer at hand as everything is completely impressive here. The transfer, like Ray, demands to be seen.
Due to this film boasting one of the newest transfers (in relevance to theater date/street date) on HD-DVD, the print is problem free. First off, colors are gorgeously crystal clear. The warm city lights of Tokyo are brought alive via lush darks and vivid bright yellows. The obvious attraction of the film, being the cars, are sparkling and, well for use of a better term here, tricked out. I could not detect one area where the film’s image wasn’t sharp. Little items like artifacts, grain, pixilation, and edge enhancement is nowhere to be found. The attention to detail on Universal’s part is immaculate here.
Toshiba has been using Tokyo on their across the country tour showing everyone what HD-DVD is all about. What a perfect choice as even though every week it seems someone is writing that ‘X’ title is the newest reference title from Universal, this week I can easily write that Tokyo Drift is the new video reference title for HD-DVD. What an amazingly visual feast.
Tokyo Drift is presented to us in the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio track (in English, Francais, or Espanol), and it sounds almost as good as it looks.
Boom, zoom, bang, crash! First off, I will comment that this is the type of film, obviously, that cried for a Dolby TrueHD audio track. Universal had claimed that it was going to be included on early specs, but at the end of the day, they have opted to exclude the TrueHD track. I assume this is probably due to this film being released as a HD-DVD/DVD Combo.
The dynamic range of the film is probably one of the more impressive efforts I’ve heard thus far on HD-DVD. When you pop this disc in for someone, the first scenes that everyone will want to see are the car race sequences or the various crashes. This is completely understandable as all the little sounds are shown off in excellent form. Surrounds are some of the best heard yet. The bigger car crashes cause a ringing effect creating a truly awesome experience. Even the little sounds like people cheering, crowds yelling and tires screeching are delivered in great form.
Dialogue, surprisingly I might add, was no real issue. I had feared that the overly loud audio track would require myself to consistently raise and lower the volume. Granted I use using the remote a lot, but that was more for the awesome Picture in Picture extra (more on that later though). One of my favorite demo scenes (which I replayed a number of times) was the sequence where Han and Sean are drifting around the car in the middle of an intersection (chapter 8). Truly great stuff when it’s pumped up loud.
The format’s first HD-DVD dual-layer HD-30/DVD-9 HD-DVD/DVD combo disc arrives with so many interesting features not to mention some of the most interactive features to date.
- Audio Commentary with Director Justin Lin: Director Justin Lin does come off as a typical young director would in this commentary track. He overly exclaims about his cast, never finding faults in any scenes. The good thing despite him being like this, is that Lin is very interesting and fun to listen to as he comes off as a normal kind of guy. Topics of discussion include production details, film origins and casting.
- Drifting School: Here we get to see just exactly how the entire cast trained to drift.
- Trick Out To Drift: This feature goes over some of the various cars (nearly 230) used in the film.
- The Big Breakdown: Another feature that looks into the various cars and how they were modified for the film.
- Han’s Last Ride: This feature looks into the big crash that occurs during the film.
- Cast Cam: The standard ‘give the actors/actresses cameras and see what they record’ feature.
- The Real Drift King: Kelichi Tsuchlay, the world’s real drift king, is interviewed here.
- The Japanese Way: The last of six features focuses on how the cast and crew managed to film in the country of Tokyo.
- Deleted Scenes: Here we get roughly 18 minutes of various deleted scenes. Luckily, unlike a majority of deleted scenes, these deleted scenes were quite enjoyable to watch. A lot of character information and expansion is dealt with including Twinkie’s devious side and Sean’s side with DK.
- U-Control: Forget IME. This is the definition of interactivity here. Universal has stopped at all costs here to literally give HD-DVD something to brag about as not only is this U-Control feature completely interactive but is also the first feature that allows the user to chose what he/she does. Talk about cool huh! Anyhow, U-Control is broken down to a few different areas. We have Picture in Picture that gives us various cast interviews and behind the scenes footage as the film runs. Storyboards explores the concepts of film via various storyboards. Tech Specs gives us all the various technical specs about the cars during the film’s course. The best thing is that it actually gives us various damage total as the car’s are wrecked. GPS gives us the ability to follow the cars as we watch the film’s main racing sequence. Production Photographs gives us behind the scenes photos from the set. For a truly interesting look at what U-Control is about, go to the film’s main racing sequence and enjoy.
Tokyo Drift is actually quite the fun film. Containing a decent story with interesting elements, Tokyo Drift comes recommended for those who’ve seen and enjoyed the first two Furious films. With the new HD-30/DVD-9 HD-DVD/DVD Combo Disc, Universal has really stepped up to the forefront of the HD war. Boasting incredibly crisp visuals, excellent audio, amazing features, and interactivity at its best, Tokyo Drift comes recommended for those who want a fantastic all-around great demo disc. Do yourself the favor and at least rent this title to see what HD-DVD is all about.
On a side note – with Universal sticking solely to the HD-DVD format (at least for now), and really starting to push the envelope in terms of quality and extras, Blu-ray supporters may have a reason to adopt HD-DVD as well. The same cannot really be said for the Blu-ray camp, thus far at least.
Special Features List
- Deleted Scenes
- The Japanese Way
- The Real Drift King
- Cast Cam
- Han’s Last Ride
- The Big Breakdown
- Trick Out To Drift
- Drifting School
- Audio Commentary with Director Justin Lin