Initial D (2005)
Director: Andrew Lau Wai-Keung, Alan Mak Siu-Fai
Tagline: “Change my underpants honey!”
Live action remakes of animated movies are always interesting to see. My favourite one from Hong Kong is still Wicked City as it has a lot of humour that isn’t in the rather nasty anime original. It doesn’t work all the time though as the Hollywood version of Street Fighter proved. Anyone who is a fan of Akira (anime or manga versions) has also had to put up with the threat of live action version for over a decade now.
This story follows a teenage boy Takumi (Jay Chou) who has been delivering tofu on the winding Mt Akina roads for over five years and has got quite good at driving the road (he looks pretty bored driving.) One such night he passes a hotshot driver in his hotted up GTS while driving his dad’s seemingly ubiquitous Toyota Trueno AE86. This causes a sensation amongst the other racers and they all want to find out about the so-called ‘God of Mt Akina’.
If you have ever suspected Anthony Wong could act his way through some of his movie roles with his eyes closed, well in this movie he does as he spends 95% of his time on-screen as Tofuman (the boy’s dad) either drunk, asleep or walking around in wooden clogs with a smoke in his mouth. Even when you see him driving he looks like he is doing it blind.
Most of the characters in this movie are fairly boring, with only the son of the Gasman (Kenny Bee), Itsuki (Chapman To Man-Chat) being funny, if a bit annoying. The racers are what you would expect, but I did like the hip-hop professional racers (including a cameo by Jordan Chan), even though they are meant to be the ‘bad guys’.
I quite liked the racing action, even though it was quite clearly inspired by movies such as Gone in 60 seconds and MTV videos. The way they showed the races was good to as their were lots of shots of the Toyota Trueno AE86 ‘drifting’ around corners and they handled the rest of it well considering they only raced the same course throughout the movie.
In a good racing movie you would expect the cars to have a personality themselves (sometimes they act better than the people.) For this movie the only car that showed this was the AE86, but I understand in the original manga and anime versions the races take up much more of the plot and we get to learn more about the characters.
I have also heard that Jay Chou crashed one of the cars while they were filming this movie so it is good to see that they were actually driving the cars themselves.
The plot is not really that important in this movie, but as you would expect it does involve the usual situation of the car breaking down or crashing not long before a big race and the characters rushing to fix it. Some of the other events in the movie don’t really add much to the story though such as the trip to the beach or the ‘my girlfriend is a hooker’ subplot.
If you like racing movies or would like to see how the live action version of Initial D turned out then I would recommend this movie. For everyone else I would say to watch it, but don’t expect too much from it.