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The Fast and the Furious (2001) – DVD Review



Written by: David Ayer, Erik Bergquist & Gary Scott Thompson, based on a story by Thompson, which was in turn based on a magazine article by Ken Li
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Ted Levine


  • Running audio commentary by director Cohen
  • Enhanced viewing mode with splitscreen and branching bonus and behind-the-scenes footage
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious trailer, sneak peek and “prelude”
  • Cast and filmmaker info
  • Tricking Out a Hot Import Car featurette
  • DVD-ROM:
    • Street Racer game
    • Movie information: production notes, cast and filmmaker info
    • Music jukebox with six songs from the film
    • Notes on the street racing culture
    • Downloads: photo gallery, screensavers & wallpaper

Released by: Universal
Region: 1
Rating: PG-13
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Rent it if you must.

[ad#longpost]Brian Spilner (Walker) appears to be just a guy from Arizona looking to get into the world of illegal street racing. He happens upon the Lord of Street Racing himself, Dom Toretto (Diesel), and tries to get into his inner circle. This is probably partly due to the fact that Spindler has some secrets up his sleever, but also (reasonably enough) because Dom’s sister (Brewster) is fine as hell. The question is whether or not Brian will actually survive running around in this strange new subculture to enjoy the girl–or comple his undercover mission.

This film is simply fast cars and chicks–that’s about the long and short of it. The trouble is the film has aspirations above its sphere, so to speak. It wants to be some kind of buddy flick for Diesel and Walker. It wants to explore (exploit?) the street racing subculture. It wants to be filled with action and really push the envelope. It wants to do all those things…but instead winds up just succeeding at what it should have concentrated on fully to begin with: jacked up cars and fine women. Everything else falls flat on its face. This is primarily due to a very troubled script, filled with ham-handed character moments, exposition masquerading (badly) as character advancement, and–amazingly enough–boring car races and chases. No amount of strange, jittering camera effects can save you. The cast, for the most part, are blameless. Diesel is his usual blustering badass self, Walker is trying to play the cutie-pie cop for all he’s worth and Michelle Rodriguez is given absolutely nothing to do.

Vin Diesel and Paul Walker

Taking the edge off, more or less, is this “tricked out” edition of the DVD. The main portion that pertains with this movie is the “enhanced” viewing mode, which features commentary by director Cohen and a little speedometer icon that pops up on the screen. When this happens, hit the Enter button on your remote and you get deleted scenes, different angles on scenes and behind-the-scenes footage. The deleted scenes are mostly eminently forgettable, and when the screen splits up to show you different footage in tandem with what’s on the screen to begin with, both windows are so small that it’s hard to follow what’s going on from one to another. They should have followed the example of the Terminator 2 recent release and just branch off to something else entirely.

The commentary by Cohen is the highpoint of the disc–and I must admit that watching the film through his eyes is a much more pleasant experience that doing it unaided through my own. He is extremely entertaining and jazzed about his film, and his passion for his work is apparent. He talks about what the film owes to Roger Corman, and even to John Ford–he explains how the semi hijack scene at the beginning is just an extended homage to Stagecoach.

The Tricking Out featurette manages to balance cheese with actual information. The cheese comes in the form of cheesecake, since–because this disc is more solid on its demographic than any other under the face of the sun–it’s hosted by 2002 Playboy Playmate of the Year Dalene Kurtis who tags along as technical advisor Craig Lieberman spends about $50K jacking up a car from bumper to bumper. It’s interesting to see how the cars are actually recreated, despite the fact that this is really only skimming the surface, so it’s a decent enough little bit.


The rest of the features on the disc proper are really designed to hype the sequel, which based on its box office performance probably didn’t need the help. The “prelude” is designed to take you from one film to the next, although it seems to me this is probably just the pre-credit sequence from the sequel…or something like that. Then you’ve got a sneak peek on the set of the flick with Walker, sequel director John Singleton and actor Tyrese Gibson–but let’s face it, if you’re watching this DVD, you’re probably already sold on the sequel. The trailer for the second film is here as well.

The DVD-ROM section gets an A for effort, at least. You get information the street racing culture as well as the film, and a “CD Player” where you can select from six different soundtrack snippets. Also, there’s a Street Racer game which is pretty much a version of the old Atari Night Driver game, but here you’re actually behind the wheel of a stick.

If this film is right up your alley, then you’ll be pleased with the disc itself. I wish some more time and effort had gone into truly enhancing the “enhanced viewing” mode for the flick, but the disc is worth at least renting for Cohen’s commentary alone.

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