Sunday, July 09, 2006

Overlooked DVD of the month - INITIAL D/TAU MAN JI D - cars, vomit, tofu!

INITIAL D was overlooked in the UK largely because it was on release for 1 second in 1 cinema, but back in the Far East it was a mega-success. It's a Taiwanese production of an immensely popular Japanese franchise, which began with manga but spawned a TV series. The characters are largely young kids who race suped-up cars down Mt. Akina in Japan. The mountain road is full of hair-pin bends and the aim is to enter them so fast that you skid/drift through them. The racing scenes are fantastic especially when you consider that they are live-action (shot with cameras welded to cars) rather than CGI (as with the infinitely inferior FAST AND FURIOUS series). INITIAL D just has a lot more respect for drift-racing. You get to be up close to some fantastic driving by professional D-1 racers and there is a fair amount of exposition as to the mechanics of getting a car to the point where it can perform to the necessarily level.

Apart from the authentic racing scenes, the movie is also helped by some nice manga-ish touches. There's a lot of split screen, freeze-frame and some nice use of camera angles to resemble frames of animation. In addition, the movie is really funny despite having some fairly serious content. The hero of the picture, played by a Taiwanese pop-star apparently, is the shy son of a Tofu-man. His dad is one of the coolest, funniest characters I have seen on screen for a long time. He's an abusive alcoholic, but also a really awesome ex-racer. The hero's best-mate is also really funny and provides most of the puerile puke gags. Nice! There's also a mandatory love-interest which is handled with its tongue firmly in its cheek(!)

So, if you want fast cars, tofu, vomit gags and a cheesy 80s-style sound-track, check out INITIAL D. But remember, while it was directed by the same guys who gave us INFERNAL AFFAIRS this is NOT profound, stylish, intense etc. It's popcorn at its best.

INITIAL D was released in the Far East in 2005. Comically it took significantly more cash than STAR WARS III on the opening weekend in Hong Kong! It played Venice 2005. It's now out on Region 2 DVD with a hysterical commentary track from two random geezers.


  1. Glad u enjoyed 'Cave of the Yellow Dog'

  2. ha! glad you liked it. J-trash is awesome.