I actually liked the original for the unexpected reason that it was intelligently stylish.
Judging as a viewer, it must be amazingly difficult to be stylish and fresh because Hollywood (and the advertising industry) turns styles into mannerisms. The first film did something pretty novel and interesting. It was in the manner of AsianTechno. And it did that in two ways, what was on the screen and how it was put on the screen.
The cars themselves, everything about them, is a result of this movement which in sheer numbers of minds dwarfs any sector Europe or the US could develop. The engineering, the manner of racing, the designs on the cars, the clothes of the drivers, the embodiment of techno possession and consumerism, even the mechanics of street pecking order. All these originated in and are firmly rooted in AsianTechno. This contrasted with our recent obsession with HipHop ganstas-and-hos and guns and gave us speed, agility and cool lime. Thin sexy girls instead of cows. Clipped smart dialog instead of thuggish mumbles.
It’s a war out there, a cultural war for the styles that unknowing teens will adopt as literally who they are. To build a film around AsianTechno, particularly the consumerism of AsianTechno was an inspired idea.
There are two choices for cinematic style: either the urban Anime/Manga approach (which incidentally is obsess ed with motorcycles not cars and is limited to Japan) or a more hip style centred on Kar-Wai Wong, cars, realistic cinema and the mainland. Fortunately, “Fast and Furious” chose the Kar-wai school, especially as exemplified in “Fallen Angels.”
Very cool, very fast, very odd cuts, “drilling in” to the machinery of the cars.
Well, that was then. This is now. We still have the cars, but they are relegated to the role of something to be gotten rid of because of “location.” We still have the Asian mechanic mastermind, but he works for a HipHopper type. We still have some remnant of AsianTechno in the person of Devon, who is the embodiment of the style in the ad business. Denoting the style with her would already be a step back because she is already an ad mannerism. But even that is not enough. She goes into second place in the race and drops out of the story.
Instead, we get a post 9-11 statement on “American Muscle” directed by a HipHop guy who hasn’t a clue about what made Kar-Wai’s stuff have energy. Reminds me of “The Replacement Killers” which similarly took a (slightly different) cool Asian cinematic style and put it in the hands of a HipHop director. Equally loud disaster.
What we end up with here is Latinos, muscle cars and Dukes of Hazard. A smarmy drug lord. Sad sad sad. Old, passé. No real hip kid would be seen dead associated in any way with this.
Posted in 2003
Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.