Justin Lin slips comfortably into the driver’s seat for the Fast and the Furious series directing the third feature in the series which, chronologically takes place after the events if the sixth film (which hadn’t been made yet). This is important because of a character death and his appearance in the next films, as well as a cameo at the end of this film.
We are introduced to a young man, Sean (Lucas Black – sorry I can’t believe you’re a teenager or playing a high schooler in this film) who gets busted (again) for street racing. At the end of her rope, Sean’s mother (Lynda Boyd) sends him to Japan to live with his father (Brian Goodman), who is stationed at the naval base there.
Within hours of landing in the country, he’s enrolled at a local academy, meets a pretty girl, Neela (Nathalie Kelly), and the local U.S. dealer in hard to get goods, Twinkie (Shad Moss credited as Bow Wow). He also gets mixed up in car-racing again, and something called drifting…
He meets Han (Sung Kang – who quickly became a favourite) who takes him on as a driver, even as the young man clashes with D.K. (Brian Tee), the nephew of a Yakuza crime lord.
Lin has an enthusiastic directing style, which translates to an energetic film, and probably my favourite out of the first three entries. Part of that is Black, there is just something very amiable and affable about his presence, Kang’s Han just has this kind of relaxed zen thing going on, and the cars, the locales, and the supporting cast all give it a wonderful Eastern flavour.
Lin’s film like the previous entries, are only concerned with the barest bones of a narrative, but this story, which also has the fish out of water element working for it, is enjoyable, and a number of the concepts will be familiar to anyone who grew up with parents in the service, and moved around a lot.
Lin will go on to direct the fourth, fifth, sixth, ninth, and rumour has it, the tenth film in the series. With this one film he demonstrated that he gets the universe and can tell entertaining stories within it, and consequently, becomes the driving force behind the franchise.
He has a sense of fun, style, and it honestly looks like he puts everything on the screen. His cast seems to bring that same sense of fun and style to their performance, making everything seem to be an exaggerated reality, with the locations around Japan only adding to that sense.
Next time, I venture further into the franchise, and begin watching the entries I haven’t seen yet. Knowing Lin is directing, however, gives me a measure of comfort as I buckle up for Fast and Furious!