Alive Drift

Geek Review: Alive Drift (Alivehoon)

If you thought Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto is the fastest and most furious race car driver around, we’re sorry to have to burst your bubble but that’s Hollywood. You would have to be really naive to think that the exhilarating but ridiculous car chase scenes in the Fast & Furious movies did not involve CGI, but that’s not to say all race car scenes in movies are fake. If you want something authentic for a change, look no further than Ten Shimoyama’s Alive Drift, a Japanese film about the world of drifting.

Alive Drift

For the uninitiated: drifting is a racing technique where the driver pulls the handbrake and lets the car glide, at an angle, into steep bends. This usually happens in pairs, with one driver taking the lead while the other gives chase. And experiencing this daredevil skill on screen is like seeing poetry in motion.

The movie’s main guy is Koichi Oba (a boyish Shuhei Nomura), an introvert who holds an unspectacular job at a factory in the day, but becomes a brilliant esports racer at night. He is an expert in racing video games, specifically Gran Turismo 7, and clearly enjoys it too. His life changes when the daughter of a drifter shows up and convinces him to join her injured father’s team. After trying his hand at driving a real car, he embarks on an adrenaline-charged world of professional drifting. We know – it sounds like a Hollywood fantasy so far.

We don’t remember seeing a feature movie about drifting (sorry to Jay Chou fans, but Initial D doesn’t count), so it is quite an experience to sit through a movie that doesn’t try to do anything except to bring viewers one thrill ride after another. We didn’t step into the cinema expecting a life-changing drama, so we have no qualms with the predictable plot featuring a grumpy mentor (Takanori Jinnai), the good-natured female interest (Ai Yoshikawa), the goofy sidekicks (Hirotaro Honda and Kizuki) and the snarling antagonists (Shodai Fukuyama and Anna Tsuchiya).

Alive Drift

What makes this movie authentic is the involvement of Japanese professional race car driver Keiichi Tsuchiya, who is also affectionately known as the Drift King. He oversaw the driving stunts in the movie, which were performed by real-life Japanese drifters like Naoki Nakamura, Daigo Saito and Masato Kawabata. For car enthusiasts, the machines in the movie are so glossy and sleek, we’d imagine fans going ga-ga over them. Plus, do keep your eyes out for easter eggs as well. As one character aptly put it, the cars seem to be dancing in a perfectly choreographed routine.

Alive Drift

You’ll also appreciate the hard work put into producing this entertaining film. The car racing sequences make you sit up and watch. You’ll hold your breath and become awestruck by the risks taken by the production crew to capture the various angles. There are a few mind-blowing car crashes as well, which will make you wonder exactly how much camera equipment was wrecked during the filming process. Based on the behind-the-scenes videos, it might be a heart-wrenching experience for any techie.  For a movie about drifting, it is nice to see that almost an hour of the 122-minute movie takes place at the Drift Festival where all the action is.

The movie is a fairy tale for e-racers who dream of making it to the tracks one day (we can all dream, can’t we?). Even if you are just a casual gamer, you have to admit that seeing the drivers don their cool race suits and helmets makes you want to try your hand at e-drifting.



Finally – a movie about drift racing that delivers the thrills. And the awesome racing sequences were filmed without CGI!

  • Story - 6/10
  • Direction - 8.5/10
  • Characterisation - 6.5/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 9/10