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Initial D (2005) October 1, 2005

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Film.

A Hong Kong movie based on a Japanese manga series where all the characters are Japanese but everyone speaks Cantonese? That just about sums it up for Initial D. The best intentions are there, but no-one seems to be speaking the same language. Initial D was highly anticipated because of the huge popularity of the manga and subsequent anime series, as well as the fact that the directors are Infernal Affairs‘ Andrew Lau and Alan Mack. Unfortunately it’s a triumph of style over substance and plot.

The story follows high-school kid Takumi, a quiet lad surrounded by people obsessed with mountain street-racing. As it turns out, Takumi is a boy wonder at racing, due to late night trips spent delivering tofu for his Dad’s business. Once the secret is out, everyone’s vying for a piece of Takumi, both friends and enemies.

Being the story of a teenage street-racer, the action scenes are suitably fantastic, Lau and Mak following what Ang Lee and Robert Rodriguez in recreating the dynamic comic-panels with split screens. And the stunts are pretty damn good, even with the blow-by-blow explanation for the uninitiated. It’s certainly exciting, but loses a lot in between action scenes due to the flimsy characters and down right awful acting. The respected Anthony Wong does a decent job as Takumi’s drunken father (and wouldn’t you know it, legendary racer), as does Chapman To as the comic relief. But the romance, the team building, the learning experience all suffers from that familiar enemy of Hong Kong cinema: haste. It’s like they need to put this extra plot stuff in, but want to rush to the next racing scene. If that’s the case then why bother with long drawn out ‘mood’ scenes of epic contemplation? This is particularly frustrating at the end, when one of the bigger plot points of the manga series is practically glossed over for a happy ending.

It’s not a terrible film, but it is left largely to the fast cars and pretty faces to just about save face. And my mind just can’t handle Japanese names and settings with all Chinese dialogue! It’s too weird!



1. Danny Petsis - October 1, 2005

My friend loves Initial D. He has about two or three stages of it. Stages are seasons. He also has the live action movie. I think I’m going to check it out this weekend since he always wants me to see it.

2. Aya_s - October 1, 2005

Yeah, I’d love to see all stages of the anime too – and read the manga. The movie really gives you a taste for the story.–>

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