A Tale of Two Drifters


This is old news for any gear-heads out there (of which I’m not, although I do enjoy my Top Gear), but given the big stink about copyright reform in this country as of late I thought it would be appropriate.

Last night I finally got around to watching The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift — mostly to see how it compared to the China/Japan co-production Initial D. Seeing how Initial D was based on a long-running animé of the same title and released almost a full year before the latest Fast and Furious franchise, I fully expected that the two projects would share the same director, or stunt driving team at least.

But to my surprise, it turns out that they’re not at all related, despite the fact that they’re almost exactly the same movie!

Granted, neither can effectively claim ownership of the drifting phenomenon, but both films feature young male protagonists who happen upon the Tokyo street-racing scene, and thanks to their daddy’s ride win a dangerous race down windy mountain roads against a local thug with connections to the mob. Their only real difference lies in the treatment of the heroes’ love interests, and Initial D‘s is much more believable.

So to put this into perspective, Hollywood can blatantly steal and profit from an existing film without so much as a tip of the hat to the original producers, but it’s illegal for anyone else to share their film for free.

Not that anyone would want to, of course. Tokyo Drift is so inferior in every way to its predecessor that it’s virtually unshareable — unless you’re illiterate and can’t read subtitles, I guess…

By Andrew

Mobile phones, Linux and copyright reform. Those go together, right?


  1. “Initial D’s is much more believable.”

    1. A film with a bunch of Chinese people pretending they are Japanese but speaking Catonese


    2. A bunch of southern californian asians who don’t look or dress like Japanese at all gathering in a parking lot rave party doing drifting, in the middle of Shinjuku no less!

    I think both are stretching it. However, I have to give credit to the guys who made Tokyo drift that even though they mixed close ups filmed in california with shots in Tokyo with CG they got most of the streets and geography right.

    Initial D is more realistic in that the styling of the cars are more like those of Japanese drifters. You don’t see so many bright coloured ricers here.

  2. Never seen “Initial D”, but I surprisingly enjoyed “Tokyo Drift”. Why? Hot Japanese girls, *great* drift scenes, a set that looked remarkably like Tokyo, and a protagonist who was part-way compelling, especially when he was trying to say Japanese words with that goofy Albama accent; he reminded me of any character from a Wallace and Gromit film.

    Of course, the gratuitous appearance of Vin Diesel in the end ruined pretty much everything.

  3. Hey Roy, remember that I’m talking specifically about what the hero discovers about his girl at the end of Initial D. I won’t spoil it for Ray in case he decides he wants to watch it. But yeah, in other respects they’re both pretty much unbelievable.

    And Ray, “part-way compelling protagonist”?! Come on now, guy-geeee-in

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