Another oil-slick ode to man-on-auto lust, Initial D offers enough full-speed money shots to eke out a victory over its barrage of clichés. Built for Kong-sized success, it was adapted from a popular Japanese manga series, stars Mandopop sensation Jay Chou, and is helmed by Infernal Affairs gurus Andrew Lau and Alan Mak (who took over after Tsui Hark bailed). Chou’s laconic gas station employee is thrust into the surprisingly chaste world of illegal street racing after his perpetually vomiting punchline of a sidekick needs bailing out. He is, of course, a natural, navigating his dad’s tofu-delivery sedan through a series of hairpin turns. Dad (the cig-dangling Anthony Wong), fond of porn and passing out, hijacks every scene he’s in with deadpan nihilism, every glance a comic implosion. The races pilfer tropes both fast and furious, with whiplash editing and needless F/X of pulsing car insides, but maintain enough coherence for a few tense jolts. Alas, the story keeps interrupting with gobs of expectorated exposition, paving the way for the inevitable sequels to come.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 20, 2005