Two mountain road racers, Nakazato and Takahashi, challenged each other to find the best racers, and defeat them in "battles". Nakazato was surprisingly defeated by an old Toyota Trueno AE86 (Corolla in the US) one night, and he searched for the person who defeated him, which lead him to the Speedstars, a local team. But the car who beat him was actually driven by a local Tofu shop owner's son, Takumi Fujiwara, who had unknowingly perfected the art of mountain racing through daily deliveries of tofu. Takumi was able to defeat Nakazato again, showing that he is no fluke. However, winning hasn't helped him home life, as his father, Bunta Fujiwara, was a drunkard (and a racing genius). His girlfriend Natsuki Mogi wants his attention even though she's got a dark and shameful secret, and his best friend Itsuki (who has no talent in driving) wants Takumi to teach him road racing... after buying the WRONG car. In a mountain road encounter, they ran into Team Emperor's Mitsubishi Evo, and ...Written by
Based on a long running comic series by Shuuichi Shigeno, this all star cast Hong Kong movie puts on screen what's on the comic's volume 1-15 ( Part until Takumi joins Project D ).
Takumi Fujiwara (Jay Chou) is a high school student who lives with his single father running a tofu shop. Inbetween his tofu deliveries, he frequents Mt. Akina that has winding roads to improve his driving skills. He gets involved with the street racers that frequents the area, and a battle ensues to prove who's the fastest one on the road. Takumi with his outstanding driving skills, bests other racers with better performing cars. Amongst the people who shows up was Ryosuke Takahashi (Edison Chen). Ryosuke takes notice of Takumi's talent, and takes interest in him. Takumi's girlfriend Natsuki (Ann Suzuki) is chummy with Takumi, but she also has other things going on with older men. Takumi goes head to head with Keiichi Sudo (Jordan Chan) to prove who's the fastest man on the road.
The same staff from Medea Asia that's created the "Infernal Affair" series made this movie. The movie was shot on location in Japan around Yahikoiwamuro highway in Niigata Prefecture, and Shibukawa city in Gunma prefecture. The production quality is high despite the difficulty of bringing the location to Japan. Mt. Akina is a fictitious mountain that's modeled after Mt. Haruna in Gunma prefecture.
One of the center piece of the action is the Sprinter Trueno AE86 that Takumi drives. Despite its diminutive size, it succeeds in out performing cars that are designed for racing performances. Trueno is is a sister model of Corolla Levin, and shares the same frame, and the engine. It's a performance version of the standard Sprinter model with a twin cam 4A-GEU engine. In the '80s Japan, 4A-GEU souped up to 450 horse power was sold by custom shops. Used on AE86 that weighs less than a ton, the combination made the car into a deadly rocket that can go head to head with lesser powered cars like the GT-R. So a car to car battle like the one seen in this movie was entirely "Possible". The original comic states that the story is occurring sometime in the '90s time frame, and the cars appearing in this movie also reflects this fact.
I wonder if China these days are following the Hollywood style casting that casts compatible astrological sun sign actors in the leading role. This method seems to ensure good chemistry between male and the female lead. In this movie, three earth sign actors plays the lead (Ann Suzuki - Taurus, Anthony Wong - Virgo, and Jay Chou - Capricorn).
The movie has a world of its own that's completely different from the TV anime series, and in some ways more exciting due to the interaction between the stars, and the actual driving that takes place on the road. It's an excellently made movie that combines best of what Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan has to offer. I only wish that Edison Chen would return to Hong Kong cinema. He was very good in this movie.
A very enjoyable movie that takes you into the world of street racing culture of Japan.
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