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THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT
Engaging, simple modern action music
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Universal Studios; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall
If ever a film seemed unlikely to spawn two sequels, it was the dreadful fast-cars-and-nice-women movie The Fast and the Furious, but they keep churning them out, even though the one big star jumped off after one film and everyone else you might have heard of jumped off after the second. The series has had an unusual history, musically, with the insanely-talented (if you listen to him) / unbelievably-untalented (if you listen to anyone else) BT supplying the first movie's score, and Brian Tyler providing some additional music; then David Arnold came on board for the second; and finally, Tyler returns for the third, since it's directed by Justin Lin, who had just made Annapolis with Tyler, even though in truth it's direct-to-video standards all the way through.
After neither of the previous scores in the series got released, it came as something of a surprise when Varese Sarabande announced that they would be releasing Tyler's music from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Tyler's approach is exactly what the film demanded, with what pretty much amounts to rock music playing through most of it, even to the extent that there are guitar solos performed by a gentleman named Slash, who apparently was in some sort of beat combo named Guns N Roses. There are guitars flying about, percussion, keyboards - it's all good fun, though clearly is of limited dramatic interest.
For a frame of reference, it's very similar to the action tracks from Hans Zimmer's Mission: Impossible II for the most part (without the choral bits or Lisa Gerrard); Tyler does rise above it all just once or twice and provide some wonderful little highlights sprinkled through the score which go beyond the call of duty. "Neela Drifts", with its acoustic guitar solo, is the first, a beautiful little piece. "Downtown Tokyo Chase" is a hell of an action piece, with the orchestra joining in for one of its first substantive contributions - Tyler's so good at writing music like this, it's a pity he didn't have more opportunities to do so during the score. Finally, there's an explosive (orchestral) action piece which closes the disc, the seven-minute "Symphonic Touge", which was probably done just for the album - it seems to pretty much be an orchestral version of the non-orchestral second piece on the album. It's by far the best thing on the album.
The album isn't high art, but it's enjoyable, and Tyler is as adept as anyone else at creating a score like this. It probably goes on for 20 minutes too long, and it's a shame the film didn't give him more of an opportunity to work in the orchestra (since when he does, he creates a fresh and exciting sound) - but still, it's a nice disc. Shame about the cover art, though.