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The Fast and the Furious(2001)
Dominic Toretto drives the streets of LA like he owns them. As far as his crew is concerned, he does. He spends his days rebuilding high performance race cars and perfecting the art of computer controlled fuel injection. By night, Dom pockets up to $10,000 each time someone dares to race him in his own earth-bound rocket of a car. Dom lives off of the adrenaline of street car racing and his fans treat him like a rock star. Brian particularly looks up to Dominic and seeks his approval, but to the rest of the crowd, he's white bread. After a blazing encounter with the ruthless Johnny Tran, Dom decides to take Brian under his wing. Dom's sister Mia sees something she likes in Brian, too. Trouble is, neither of them realize he's an undercover cop and Dominic and his rival Johnny Tran are both the leading suspects in a case involving dirty money and big-rig hijacking.
For more about The Fast and the Furious and the The Fast and the Furious Blu-ray release, see the The Fast and the Furious Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 22, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Rob Cohen
Writers: David Ayer, Erik Bergquist, Gary Scott Thompson
Starring: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg
» See full cast & crew
The Fast and the Furious Blu-ray Review
An all-around good picture delivers quality entertainment.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 22, 2009
It don't matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning's winning.
Who could have imagined that Rob Cohen's The Fast and the Furious would lead to a trio of sequels and become one of Universal's more lucrative franchises? With the fourth film, Fast & Furious, recently becoming the highest-grossing April release of all time, the series is, like its title, hard to beat, and for good reason. Viewing movies as a form of escapism and vicarious enjoyment of activities beyond the wherewithal of the normal theater patron to actively engage, The Fast and the Furious films set the bar rather high, showcasing a world of intense speed where finely-tuned and high-dollar vehicles take the routine endeavor of driving to a whole new level. The films take audiences deep into a world of incredible speed that puts both man and machine to the ultimate test, each totally dependent on the other, car and driver coming together for a ride that will end in either the exhilaration of victory or the agony -- and perhaps even pain and suffering -- of defeat. The films take their stories to another level, adding a layer of mystery, danger, and intrigue, placing both heroes and villains on either side of the law and into the seats of fast cars that just might determine who lives, who dies, who wins, and who loses.
Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker, Into the Blue) is an undercover cop cementing a foothold in the world of underground street-racing. His mission is to infiltrate the gang led by Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel, The Chronicles of Riddick) and discover who has been hijacking tractor-trailers full of electronic goods in high-performance, high-dollar racing cars. O'Conner proves himself worthy with his tricked-out ride and subsequent rescue of Toretto from the cops after a high-speed, high-stakes race on the streets of Los Angeles. Despite the suspicions of one of Toretto's friends, Vince (Matt Schulze), O'Conner finds himself a part of the group, charged with rebuilding a racer so he may enter "Race Wars" later on. O'Conner finds himself not in a gang but rather a family that, superficially, seems to mean well, sometimes operating outside the law but certainly not the type, he feels, to maliciously attack the trucks. As O'Conner finds himself deeper and more sympathetic towards his new friends, he must struggle with the fact that evidence may indeed point towards Toretto and his crew -- even if he believes otherwise.
Surprise, surprise. The Fast and the Furious is a good movie. It offers a conventional plot but populates the story with well-developed primary characters that draw the audience in and make them care about their stories. In the movie, the line between good and bad becomes blurred to the point that, by the end, it matters not which side of the law the characters call home. The Fast and the Furious is a movie about family and doing right by friends, no matter who they are or who they pretend to be. It's about a bond of trust and understanding, the strength of brotherhood that develops when one looks past superficialities and stereotypes. These themes are reinforced by the fine performances by Paul Walker and, particularly, Vin Diesel. Diesel's Toretto is a tough, no-nonsense, street-smart and highly-skilled racer on the outside, but as O'Conner and the audience come to know him, it is revealed that he is a human being with feelings, a troubled and hard past, and doing his best to get along, even if it means skirting or breaking the law. He's the head of a household, and the patriarch of sorts of a gang that is more family than it is a collection of members. Diesel brings hard-nosed and gritty energy to the role, but compliments that with a softer, more accessible side that makes him an odd sort of antihero, a man clearly in the wrong but not maliciously or spitefully so. Walker, too, is excellent as the undercover officer that finds the world of underground racing not-so-seedy as it seems.
Fine plotting and characterization aside, The Fast and the Furious, superficially, is a movie about speed. It's loud. It's extreme. It's fun. And of course, it's all about the NOS. The movie that made high-dollar, shiny, and sleek auto enhancements, particularly Nitrous Oxide, household terms to the current young generation of street-racing wannabes, The Fast and the Furious offers a rather unique and interesting concept that takes the tired and routine world of undercover cop movies and adds an edgy and trendy look, feel, and sound that appeals to younger generations. The result is a movie that is a whole lot better than it deserves to be, where the above-noted themes and the world of underground speed racing merge into a well-paced and exciting movie that holds up well even after repeat viewings. The stunts in the film are uniformly excellent. The racing action is fast, extreme, and dangerous, and it looks great on-screen. Director Rob Cohen (xXx) captures the excitement and danger of the races with expert skill, and each vehicle becomes a character in the film, seemingly reflecting the persona of its driver and each appearing distinct one from another. While the deeper thematic elements of the film work better than the superficial glitz and glamour of the racing scenes, each segment holds up well and, most importantly, they mesh together to form a cohesive whole that is always a blast to watch.
The Fast and the Furious Blu-ray, Video Quality
Universal brings The Fast and the Furious to Blu-ray with a 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer that yields fine results. The film offers a stark contrast between numerous daytime and nighttime sequences, both offering viewers stellar imagery and marking a noticeable improvement over the original DVD release. The film is very colorful, and from the bright green paint job on O'Conner's racer seen near the beginning of the film to the subtly-golden and slightly smoggy tint of the L.A. backgrounds, the film covers a broad spectrum of colors, all of which are sharp, clear, and eye-popping throughout. Detail is also above-average; the brighter, daytime scenes in particular reveal plenty of fine detail across the board. Flesh tones tend to the red ever so slightly, and black levels are good. A layer of film grain covers the image and its retention adds a nice finishing touch to a solid transfer. The Fast and the Furious makes for a nice, stable, good-looking image, the Blu-ray never faltering no matter the material thrown its way.
The Fast and the Furious Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Fast and the Furious hits the accelerator and never lets up in this oftentimes awe-inspiring DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Bass is heavy and deep in practically every instance where it is called upon, from the pounding beats of the score to the revving of the engines of the speeding vehicles that scream across the soundstage and put sound systems through a 100-minute boot camp. The opening attack on a tractor-trailer sets the tone for the remainder of the movie. "Fast" and "furious" aptly describe the action as it unfolds; cars and a heavy 18-wheeler speed through the soundstage, seemingly breaking up everything in their paths. It's easily a pedal-to-the-metal experience that never lets up the rest of the way. Every RPM, every squeal of the tire, every explosion, and every gunshot rings out with both vigor and clarity, bombarding the soundstage with plenty of automotive and action-packed sonic excitement, all of it emanating from every corner of the listening area. Rounded out by uniformly strong dialogue reproduction, The Fast and the Furious makes for another reference-quality soundtrack from Universal.
The Fast and the Furious Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Fast and the Furious offers just about everything but a canister of NOS through this jam-packed special edition. The grouping is headlined by a commentary track with Director Rob Cohen. Cohen delivers a quickly-paced and fairly interesting track, offering up a plethora of behind-the-scenes knowledge but, more importantly and interestingly, the strategies employed in lending to the film a unique appearance, assembling a diverse and fascinating cast, and shooting the racing scenes. Cohen never runs out of things to say; the track goes almost as fast as the cars and makes for a very intriguing listen. Also included is Universal's U-Control functionality, this time with two distinct picture-in-picture video tracks. Tech Specs allows viewers to learn about the cars seen in the film. Picture in Picture is basically a second Cohen commentary track. Most of the secondary images are of the director speaking into the camera, with the occasional behind-the-scenes footage thrown in for good measure.
Several featurettes are next. Dom's Charger (1080i, 4:22) takes a close look at classic Dodge Charger seen in the film and the stunts its driver puts it through. Quarter Mile at a Time (1080i, 9:44) examines the thrill of the race and the evolution of the street-racing world. The Making of 'The Fast and the Furious' (480p, 18:03) is a rather standard behind-the-scenes piece that features cast and crew discussing various aspects of the making of the film, looking at the cast, the cars, the stunts, and more. Featurette on Editing for the Motion Picture Association of America (480p, 4:36) takes an all-too-brief look at the editing of a particular sequence to earn the film a PG-13 rating. Tricking Out a Hot Import Car (480p, 19:13) looks at what makes a racer street-worthy. More Than Furious (480p, 2:23) is an alternate ending to the film.
Turbo-Charged Prelude to '2 Fast 2 Furious' (480p, 6:12) is a short piece that serves as a bridge between the films. Sneak Peak at '2 Fast 2 Furious' (480p, 5:11) is a brief piece featuring interview clips with the stars and behind-the-scenes footage of the second film. Multiple Camera Angle -- Stunt Sequence allows viewers to watch the film's climactic race sequence from eight different angles. Movie Magic Interactive -- Special Effects looks at the construction of the film's finale. Hot Off the Street (480p, 4:42) is a series of additional scenes. Paul Walker Public Service Announcement (480p, 0:36) features the actor warning viewers not to replicate the stunts seen in the film, brought to you by Castrol Syntec. 'The Fast and the Furious' Video Mash-Up allows users to assemble their own The Fast and the Furious scenes. Visual Effects Montage (480p, 3:44) looks at the evolution of several scenes through various stages of completion. Storyboards-to-Final Feature Comparison (480p, 6:50) features the original storyboard on the top half of the screen and the final, filmed sequence on the bottom. Next up are three music videos -- Furious by Ja Rule (480p, 4:08), an edited-for-content version of Caddillac Tah's POV City Anthem (480p, 4:20), and Click Click Boom by Saliva (480p, 3:58) -- and an advertisement for the film's soundtrack (480p, 0:44). Concluding the supplements are a series of eight deleted and extended scenes (480p, 6:24) with optional director commentary, the film's theatrical trailer (480p, 1:43), D-Box functionality, and BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) interactivity. Disc two of this set features a digital copy of The Fast and the Furious. Sampled on a second generation iPod touch, The Fast and the Furious looks and sounds as good as any digital copy out there. The picture is sharp, clear, and offers good colors, solid blacks, and minimal blocking. It also features a rather robust soundtrack that sounds adequately good coming through as a small two-channel presentation.
The Fast and the Furious Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A surprisingly wonderful movie that realizes that fast cars alone do not make a story, The Fast and the Furious sets the bar for the franchise at a lofty height, an elevation none of the subsequent three films have been able to attain. Whereas Hollywood so often leaves good storytelling at the door in movies such as this, banking on flashy special effects, fast cars, and girls in revealing outfits to sell tickets, Rob Cohen's The Fast and the Furious does incorporate those traits but also builds a cohesive, rather smart, and wholly engaging backstory that lends importance to the racing and, far more importantly, builds its characters to levels often reserved for upper-echelon Dramas. Therein lies the success of The Fast and the Furious; the film takes itself seriously while still existing in a fun, inviting environment, and it expertly meshes the two distinct worlds in ways few other films have. Universal's Blu-ray release of The Fast and the Furious excels. Delivering a high quality 1080p transfer, a full-throttle lossless soundtrack, and a trunk full of supplements, this disc comes with a high recommendation.
The Fast and the Furious: Other Editions
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Amazon's current Blu-ray Boxed Set of the Week is for The Fast and the Furious Trilogy (comprised of The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), which can now be had for $29.99 (70% off, or $10 per movie). The price history ...
• The Fast and the Furious Blu-ray Singles Get Detailed - June 4, 2009
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• Universal Details Fast & Furious Blu-ray - May 18, 2009
In an announcement to retailers, Universal Studios Home Entertainment has disclosed that they will release 'Fast & Furious' on Blu-ray on July 28, day-and-date with the DVD. This will be a two-disc special edition with a digital copy included. The film will ...
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