2006 Certificate: 12

Synopsis

The noisy third lap of the rubber-burning franchise transfers to Japan for more gleaming rides, short skirts and high-octane delinquency. Jarhead's Lucas Black takes the lead as Sean, the Alabama bad boy who lines up against Yakuza-connected boy racers in Tokyo's ultra-dangerous street-racing scene. Without Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, the series takes an enjoyable Far Eastern detour with no loss of revs.

Director

  • Justin Lin

Cast

  • Lucas Black

  • Brian Tee

  • Shad 'Bow Wow' Gregory Moss

Review

The third entry in the fully-leaded action series zooms past the recent, similarly themed Hong Kong phooey Initial D: Drift Racer, thanks to a welter of slickly staged races and chases and a defiantly dumb attitude.

Pitched into the driving seat is Lucas Black (Jarhead), who must be a good sport to take a role turned down by Paul Walker, himbo star of the first two outings.

Black plays Sean Boswell, a teenage trouble magnet whose latest auto-scrape provides a hilariously daft opening and sees him fall foul of the California police.

Fed up of his errant ways, and because the plot requires it, Sean's trailer-trash mum packs him off to Tokyo to live with his military dad. Dad gives Sean some proverbial wisdom early on: "The nail that sticks out gets hammered."

Ignoring the advice, Sean catches the eye of foxy, ethnically obscure schoolmate Neela (Nathalie Kelley) and fellow foreigner - or gai-jin - Twinkie (rapper Bow Wow, formerly Li'l Bow Wow).

Twinkie introduces Sean to the school's most popular pastime: drift racing. This involves driving very fast around very tight corners in very flashy cars. Unless you're a girl, in which case it involves wearing very little and jiggling around very much.

Neela merely introduces Sean to trouble - in the form of her boyfriend DK (Brian Tee), who is not only the best driver in town (DK stands for 'Drift King'), but also the nephew of Tokyo's biggest Yakuza boss (played by Tarantino's hero Sonny Chiba).

Knowing that he will never beat DK or any of his mates in a sneering contest, Sean decides to upset his new nemesis by out-racing him and scoring his girl. This is tricky as he has no car, no cash, can't drift race and has no mob connections.

But since he's learned Japanese in roughly two days, tearing around car parks and mountain bends won't be a problem - especially with DK's partner-in-crime Han (Sung Kang) as his sponsor. Come and have a go if you think you're fast enough.

With nary a cheap, under-powered motor in sight, this hairpinning if hare-brained sequel goes about its tyre-squealing business with reckless aplomb.

And a late uncredited cameo will ensure that F&F freaks will go home very happy indeed... as long as they abide by the "don't try this at home" caption at the end.

Elliott Noble