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Initial D

  • Film

Time Out says

DRIVEN TO TEARS Chou broods over his chances of winning.

Every evening after dark, suburban Japanese youth gather to zoom their tricked-out Toyotas through hairpin turns. Little do these amateur street racers know that a true champion lurks in their midst: Takumi (Chou), a sullen dude who delivers tofu for his drunk stumblebum dad (Wong). Thanks to the lad's patented "drifting" technique—simultaneously accelerating and fishtailing through curves—he's unbeatable when it comes to running the road. As the boy reluctantly gets drawn into competing against the local hot-rodders, he may finally realize his potential to be the "driving god of Mt. Akina." Go, speed racer, go!

Based on the megapopular manga series, this pan-Asian adaptation thankfully puts the car porn on hold (lascivious, lingering shots of carburetors are kept to a bare minimum) and concentrates on burning up rubber fast and furiously. Anyone who's hoping that Andrew Lau and Alan Mak will do for the racing film what they did for cops-and-criminals stories with their Infernal Affairs trilogy, however, will be left idling in neutral. Rather than reinventing or reviving the genre, the Hong Kong duo adhere to a typical pop-cinema template: Pretty teens strike tough poses, a techno score's mindless thumps try to drum up adrenaline, and each Corolla-vs-Corolla competition seems choreographed via PS2. Character development and compelling drama are secondary concerns; in Initial D's world, it's all about the mindless need for speed.—David Fear

(Opens Fri; ImaginAsian.)

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