Publicity Stills of "Initial D"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Genre: Action/Comics
Director: Andrew Lau, Alan Mak
Starring: Jay Chou, Edison Chen, Shawn Yue, Anne Suzuki, Anthony Wong, Jordan Chan, Chapman To, Kenny Bee, Liu Keng Hung, Tsuyoshi Abe, Chie Tanaka, Kazuyuki Tsumura
RunTime: 1 hr 52 mins
Released By: Shaw
Official Movie Website: http://www.initialdthemovie.com 

Rating: PG

Released Date: 23 June 2005


For five years, 18-year old Takumi has been delivering tofu in his father’s obsolescent Toyota AE86 every morning. Not only has he become an outstanding racer, but he has also unwittingly perfected the art of drifting. He was never partial to hill racing until he is nudged by his father to drive his AE86 in a David and Goliath race against RX-7 FD. A glorious but unexpected victory awakens the competitive genes in his body, while his overnight fame inevitably leads to hell-raising races one after another, each one more perilous and exciting than the previous one.

Movie Review:

Without much elaboration, a great portion of the X and Y generation would have heard or have mesmerised with this immensely popular Japanese manga, "Initial D". Since 1995, it has spawned itself into anime, novels and PS2. Now, directors Andrew Lau and Alan Mak (the dynamic duo behind the superb “Infernal Affairs” trilogy) has joined hands to bring us the first ever live action version of this racing gem.

Basically, it’s evitable why both men and women will adore this live-version of “Initial D”. Men will be swooned by the whole range of cool, sleek cars liked the Nissan Skyline, Mitsubishi Lancer and the old charming Toyota AE86. Women on the other side will be smitten by the most charming, handsome young cast ever assembled on screen. Pop prince Jay Chou in his movie debut plays Takumi who inadvertently mastered the art of drifting while delivering toufu on behalf of his father (Anthony Wong who is convincingly funny as Takumi’s dad, a drunkard, ex-top racer and child wrecker all rolled into one). Seriously, there isn’t much to say about Chou’s acting, firstly his character doesn’t really requires him to say much and he has achieved top grades for his display of towering coyness and aloofness. Edison Chen surprisingly puts in a subdued performance as Ryousuke, a technical geek and a keen racer as well. Contributing to the movie funny bits is Chapman To (Takumi’s best friend), a street racer with pathetic racing skills who ironically inspired to be the world champion. Listen to his theory about men and god and get a good laugh out of it.

This can’t be a Jay Chou movie without good music to company. “Initial D” is filled with rap, hip-hop music pieces throughout. Chou himself contributed two songs (one which you can hear while the credits are rolling at the end) and a slow ballad. Good enough to satisfy fans and non-fans alike.

Director Andrew Lau with his firm background as a cinematographer who has worked on HK classics such as “Chungking Express” and has established himself as a director for comic-based hits “Stormriders” and “A Man Called Hero” gave “Initial D” a dreamy, picturesque feel. The end results captured the beauty of the original black-and-white comics, at the same time achieved the realism of extreme car racing. Filmed entirely in Japan, Mount Haruna stands in for the fictional Mount Akina whereby the numerous “drifting” and hair-raising race sequences are shot. Abandoning fake CG effects for real-life car stunts performed by actual racers seem to pay off. Seeing the cars negotiating sharp bends, narrow curves and speeding down the mountainous roads on the big screen is a lavishness to the eyes, the screeching sound effects endorsed realistically by the Dolby sound system is a plus.

Apparently it will be most unfair to compare “Initial D” to the directors’ “Infernal Affairs”. The latter is a gritty, dark tale of the struggle between good and evil while the former documents a simple tale of how a young man learns to pursue his dreams. “Initial D” in short is fluffy, lightweight commercial material, full of eye-candy and tastes as sweet as strawberry cheesecake ice cream. Not a good potential for a trilogy but satisfying enough to pave way for a sequel.

Movie Rating:

Review by Linus.T.

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