Fast and Furious 3: Tokyo Drift


The movie Fast and Furious 3: Tokyo Drift is a part of the Fast and Furious franchise, which is third in the series. The film was captured in Tokyo as well as in Los Angeles, where a Tokyo style illusion was created using props and lights. The motion picture tells the story of Sean Boswell, who breaks the law, while racing; hence, he is sent to Tokyo, Japan, to live with his father to escape the punishment. The 17-year-old is introduced to the world of drift racing by Twinkie, a military brat. On the other hand, Seam rebels against the Drift King and goes ahead to race, and since racing in the city involves a lot of expertise that he does not have, he ends up totaling the car. Drift racing in the city entails hairpin turns that are very dangerous, something that Sean lacks experience in (Lin). Although he is being taught about drift racing, he entangles himself with the reality of illegal racing in the city. Therefore, to have a profound review, it is imperative to discuss the efficacy of the movie, images of Japan in work and their historical context, as well as the impact these pictures have in the style and theme of this film.

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The Reason for Choosing the Film

The film tells an interesting story about an aspect of the Japanese culture that might not be clear in other films set within the context. The film has many themes in its plot as well as various indications demeaning the Japanese culture. It is interesting to learn about the culture of the Japanese people, not from their perspective, but from the standpoint of the white creators and audience. As a result of the reality that the story of the culture is not told from the Japanese angle allows it to demean the culture and the people therein. The film is founded around the quote by Spivak, “White men are saving the brown women from the brown men.” it would be interesting for the white boy to win against the Yakuza,” bad boy (Lin). In essence, there is no real role played by the main character in the film, Sean, but only created to attract the white male audience and play the role of a device to further the plot.

Images of Japan Represented in the Film

There is no better way of presenting the culture of modern Japan than by using some of its interesting images that depict its cars, electronics, as well as modern technology. The movie is full of images of flashy cars that characterize the life in the Japanese city. Historically, Japan is home for great car designs, which can be argued to have fueled the illegal drift racing culture. The movie has brought to light the underrepresented Asian American world where drifting and tuning are imported. The film brings out the image of what is critical to the Japanese culture though through the eyes of the Americans (Aoki and Mio 422). Indeed, it shows the Japanese capital’s aspects, the Japanese’s hard working nature, and their love for affluent life, including cars and technology. The cars portrayed in the movie as classy reveals the kind of things the people desire and what they can have through hard work. The images in the film are different from the pictures seen in the movie shot in America and Australia.

The theme of hard work as apparent within the Japanese culture, is evident in the film. For instance, in Japan, drifting is an escape. The city, as shown in the movie, is full of people who are depicted as being always busy. The people have to work very hard to achieve the kind of lifestyle that others have, which is the concept imported from the west. The culture of Japan does not tolerate laziness or the idea that some people are poor while others are wealthy (Aoki and Mio 423). In fact, living an affluent life is an important element of the Japanese culture forcing the people to be hard working. The individuals are found to work more than would be the case in America and Australia. In fact, it is a norm for the employees of a company in the country to leave work long after their bosses and to be left working even under minimal supervision.

Another evident theme revealed by the film’s images is that of entertainment that appears to go overboard. Given the reality that the Japanese work very hard, they would be expected to seek amusement. While entertainment can be obtained in various ways, from the perspective of the movie, it means the overboard racing with the cars. Particularly, the film shows people who find excitement from the overly exaggerated racing of cars (Aoki and Mio 423). Evidently, this is part of the culture of the Japanese as it is for the Americans and Australians.

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Japanese Culture

While the film appears to be all about cars and racing, it has a lot of influence from the Japanese culture. The movie represents Tokyo in its modern perspective, which is densely populated. In this case, the film indicates the action that is always taking place in the Japanese capital, also demonstrating the hard work entrenched within the culture. For a very long time, the Japanese culture has been surrounded by mystery, especially based on the inadequate presentation within the popular culture. Regardless, the culture, as reflected in this movie, is presented from a Western perspective and reveals that Japanese people are not welcoming. Evidence shows that Asians, including Japanese do not trust strangers or outsiders. In many scenes of the film, there are instances where Sean is labeled a “Gaijan” (Japanese for the outsider); hence, being told to leave, especially by the Drift King (DK). At the end of the scene, Sean is put to race against DK with the people cheering on the DK as if he is a god (Lin). Is worth noting that the Japanese society is patriarchal, which explains why DK is nicknamed the king and is viewed as deity by his fans.

Japanese Stereotype

The film is filled with stereotypical images of the city, which cast it in a quite negative picture. It is presented as a city with many underground illegal activities since it is all about illegal and dangerous racing that is evident in various cities around the world. The image of Tokyo, however, is different from other representations in other parts of the franchise. The reality is that what the film represents of Tokyo is not necessarily what the town and Japan are all about. The film shows stereotypes surrounding men and women within the Japanese culture. The men within the culture are shown as being either “bad guys” (the Yakuza) or the Han (the teacher) (Aoki and Mio 425). As such, the Yakuzas have a menacing glare and constantly wears an evil face.

Unlike what could be historically evident, the film has women who have the influence of the western culture. The film has evidence of the hypersexualization of Asian women, where the female characters are depicted as having a sex appeal to match the dangerous underground life that Sean finds himself in. For instance, in one scene, a female character’s chest is more emphasized than her face. In addition, the females rarely use their mouth to speak since their sex appeal should be louder than their voice (Aoki and Mio 425). Japanese women, within a patriarchal society, are overly submissive and obedient to the men. In the film, the women only speak when the men direct them to do so.


Fast and Furious 3: Tokyo Drift is a part of the Fast and Furious 3 series, which brings to light the world of extreme entertainment. The movie manifests Japanese culture, filmed in Tokyo and Los Angeles but in a Japanese illusion. While the movie is a representation of the Japanese culture, it is evident that there is a great deal of bias and stereotype since the movie’s culture is told from an American perspective. From the beginning to the end, the film is full of stereotyped images of the Japanese and their values. Thus, while it presents some true aspects of the Japanese culture, it is true to argue that the images are not the real depiction of the Japanese society.


Works Cited

Aoki, G., and Jeffery Scott Mio. “Stereotypes and Media Images.” Asian American Psychology: Current Perspectives, 2009, pp. 421-439.

Lin, Justin. “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift [Motion Picture].” Universal City, CA: Universal Pictures, 2006.

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