Yes, I still believe that both the Initial D manga and anime suck. The characters are so goddamn ugly (all the artist can draw is cars), and the races in the anime look so plastic and shitty in the cheap CG style that they're animated in. But the live action Initial D movie is something else... It's actually fun to watch and not painful to look at. You have to hand it to those crazy Chinese -- they sure know how to spice up shitty Japanese fare.
Not that the live action Initial D is the next Schindler's List or anything -- far from it. The acting is either waaaaay over the top or a little too under performed, and the plot is predictable and a little repetitive... But it's got some of the coolest filmed races ever. Seriously, neither the anime nor the manga come close to showing you how sweet drift racing [down a twisty-turny, narrow, mountain road] can be. The way directors Andrew Lau and Alan Mak (who gave us the uber-edgy Infernal Affairs) capture the heat of the meet and the sense of tense in the air as it whips around the drivers is a sight to see. The races actually FEEL fast and dangerous. Unlike shitty American car flicks like The Fast and the Furiously Gay, and Gone Limp in 60 Seconds, Initial D actually has fairly long takes of the vehicles shooting down the mountain. See, in most American movies the directors think that the only way to show you how *wham bam* FAST a car is is to never use a cut more than .65 seconds long. Show the driver's intense concentration! -Cut- Show a tire spinning! -Cut- Show the car on the road! -Cut-... Wait, was that car moving or filmed in a soundstage? What? What a fucking cheap piece of shit trick! Initial D though takes the path less traveled that another recent (well, fairly recent in geological terms) movie did with its car race/chase scenes: Ronin. You fucking FELT the desperation and the danger in that movie, and you feel it in the D too... Christ, can I make that any more clear? Longer camera takes during racing scenes equals more interesting, less shitty, movie. Time to move on.
Takumi is a teenager without any drive (that pun will be apparent soon). He has the hots for Natsuki, but she's a whore. Literally, she sells her skanky ass for cash. She is a prostitute, a callgirl, a streetwalker, Rooooooooxanne. Takumi also has some really stupid and annoying buddies (made even more stupid and annoying by the way that the characters' parts are OVER-overacted by their "thinks its funny to overact" Chinese actors. They are wrong; it is most definitely NOT funny and just eye-rollingly gay). Takumi works for his dad's tofu delivery service, and although he doesn't have a driver's license he makes all the late night deliveries for his dad to the town on the other side of Mt. Akina. In fact, Takumi has been making this delivery run since he was like 13 years old. Bad parenting to be sure, but it makes for an interesting racing story.
Anyway, so Takumi knows every single curve, twist, and turn on the downhill course of the mountain, and even in his Toyota AE86 (pretty much a piece of shit to be sure, but his father [an ex racer himself] specced out the engine something fierce and keeps good care of the thing) Takumi can utterly destroy any drift racer who wants a challenge on the notoriously dangerous mountain road... And for some reason pretty much every drift racer in Japan comes knocking on Takumi's door by the time the credits roll.
What is "drift racing" you ask? Well, it's a kick ass style of racing around sharp turns that involves swinging the rear tires around behind you while you hug the shit out of the road with the front.... At least I think it is. I've personally never tried it, but it looks pretty swanky on screen. It's fast, it's furious, and it can be really fucking intense when two racers are skidding around corners right above a cliff on a road that can barely hold two Mini Coopers at once. And if filmed by any American (as the upcoming, bound-to-be-shitty Fast and the Furious sequel based around Japanese drifting will be [hmmmm, wonder where they got THAT idea?..]) you just know that all the life and excitement in the flick would have been sucked out and replaced with gay one liners and shitty special effects. Not that Initial D doesn't use any CGI, it's just that it actually took me some time to figure out what was real and what was computer generated... And most of it is real. Real mountain, real cars, real drivers, real excitement. Fuck you, Hollywood. Lazy mother fuckers... "Hey, George, I know we can easily film this action scene with real cars and real actors for a fraction of the cost of a CGI scene, but if we use computers we can make it look really shiny and fake and gay! I say we use the Silicon Graphics!" I'm flicking you off, Hollywood retards, harder than I've ever done it before.
Like I said earlier, the racing's pretty cool in this movie, but the movie as a whole has some major problems. Takumi was the only character I really cared about. Underneath it all his dad was just an abusive, alcoholic asshole. Takumi's friends are all morons, and the other racers that come to challenge Takumi (once word gets out about his drifting skills) are all 2 dimensional stereotypes of thugs and societal rejects. I actually wanted them all to die horrible, crash and burned deaths. Takumi's friends too. But the races were pretty cool. I wanted Takumi to open up his eyes and see that the girl of his dreams was a slut to put Warren Beatty to shame. I wanted her to get the AIDs and die while Tak just stood at the foot of her hospital bed and threw used condoms at her and then invited all his friends to come in and perform bukkake over her skanky, dying body. But the races were sweet. I wanted Takumi's alky dad to have one Jack Daniels too many and choke to death on his own vomit while Tak slowly smothered him with a pillow... But the races were --.... Well, you get the idea.
The only other thing that really annoyed me about the movie was that they only raced down the same damn mountain in every competition. Every race, every single race was down the same slope. We fucking KNOW that Takumi's a bad ass on this road, so why not challenge him on a different hill? Why the fuck didn't his challengers even come up with this idea? It's like half a dozen full races in this flick and they're all down Mt. Akina. That's like having a porn movie with only one couple and all they do is missionary... Fuck that! I need cowgirl, doggy-style, blumpkin, rear admiral, donkey punch and at least one Bismarck. One fucking mountain road in an entire racing movie... Lame.
"They're movin' real fast; they're the only ones that can get there on time!
And never too far behind; they're always fighting criiiiime!
Pole Positioooooooooon! They're the only ones on the roooooad!
Pole Positiooooooooooooon! Sit back and watch them gooooooooo!"
Fuck and YES, G! This shit was so effin' fly! Vrrrrrooooooooom! SCREECH!!! VRRrrrrrrrroooooooOOOOM!!!!! CRASH!!!! KA-BOOOM! Ahhhh, run!!! Ahhhh, fire! Fire!! Oh fuck yes!
I am all about Takumi and his fly honey, Natsumi! A man in a fast car with a whore by his side... Who could ask for anything more? Well, I guess I could ask for a more sweet ride, but they do up the amp on that shitty AE86 by the end of the movie to make it one bad-ass auto. Personally I'd have added a few knifings and some hot, passionate, lesbo sex in this thing too if I was makin' it, but nobody ever asks me about the important decisions in Hollywood anymore. I think it all goes back to that time they had me on set as "Pimp Consultant" for that one movie they was filmin'.
So I got to the soundstage (well, they was all calling it "Larry's house") and sat back behind the director while he lined up the shot he wanted. He called "Action!", but I had to stop things to show the homie that it was all wrong. ALL wrong! First of all there wasn't nearly enough lube. That bitch was gonna chaffe in a matter of minutes without any motion lotion. Second of all, Long Dong Silver's pecker was not living up to its name. I tried to show the director the difference between a real man and a pansy with just an impressive nombre, but I think the homeboy thought I was coming on to him or somethin'. So then I tried to mount the lovely Tawny Tickles myself and hopefully impress her enough to request a new co-star, but that's when the guy playin' the pimp that I was consultin' for REALLY knifed me and threw me in the garbage heap in an alley down the street. Fuckin' 'mo takin' his actin' a bit too seriously. It took two operations to fix me up after that shit. One to stitch me back up, and one to reopen me up and remove the coffee grinds and half-eaten banana that got in the wound before the first op.... I think the good doc still left some maggots in there. Damn, they're gettin' huge!
Ooooh, yeah! Racin' always get's me wet! All Ah've gotta do is get in Jeb's old Camero and let him rev the engine some and my seat's flooded. Yeah, some of it ain't sexual lube, but Jeb don't mind none. Oh, then there's John-Bubba and his 65 Mustang! It's a little rusted, but the back seat's all nice and springy. And let's not forget about Jim-Bob and his 71 Vette. I prefer the hood on that puppy. Oooooh to feel that motor thumpin' beneath me like that! Oooooooh, baby!... OOOOOoooh, BABY! OH! OH!! OH MY GAWD!!!! YES!!!!! OH GOD FUCK ME YES!!!!!