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Universal Studios Home Video presents
The Fast and the Furious: CE (2001)

"I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters. Not the mortgage, not the store, not my team and all their bulls***. For those ten seconds or less, I am free."
- Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)

Review By: Kevin Clemons  
Published: December 24, 2001

Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker
Other Stars: Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Ted Levine
Director: Rob Cohen

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (violence, sexual content, language)
Run Time: 01h:46m:49s
Release Date: January 02, 2002
UPC: 025192127021
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- BAA+ A-

DVD Review

The very best films fill you with energy and an immediate desire to reenact events that transpired as soon as the credits role. For example, those who loved Top Gun wanted the thrill of being behind the controls of a jet. It was not until viewing The Fast and the Furious that I felt that kind of adrenaline rush. Suddenly sitting behind the wheel of a car became a visceral experience and I was filled with a desire to weave in and out of traffic at high speeds with utter and complete disregard for anyone else on the road. Though I quickly wised up and slowed down to a more legal speed, the rush of seeing the cars in Rob Cohen's The Fast And The Furious lingered with me long after I stepped out of the theater. This is a motion picture that offers intense action, has a star-making performance by Vin Diesel and is immensely entertaining... as well as totally mindless. Released in the summer of 2001 (after moving off of a spring release date), it became an instant smash with a strong forty-million dollar gross in its opening weekend.

In the world of illegal street racing, Dominic Toretto is a legend. Each night represents another conquest for Toretto as he routinely wins on the streets of Los Angeles. Enter Brian (Walker), a brash young cop, posing as a hopeful street racer, to solve the case of a group of hijackers who are wreaking havoc on truck drivers by stealing their cargo to sell on the black market. As Brian is introduced to this world it is clear that the lines of his job and personal life are becoming blurred. He falls in love with Toretto's sister, Mia (Brewster), while at the same time forming a friendship with Dominic. This all acts solely as a device to incorporate as many tremendous action sequences as one can imagine in a two-hour amount of time.

In the past year there have been several films dealing with fast cars and the thrill that comes from driving them. From the mediocre Gone in 60 Seconds to the just plain awful Driven, there was yet to be a film that restored hope in the genre and that would make any die hard Roger Corman fan happy. Then came The Fast and the Furious, which not only contains some of the best car sequences I have ever seen, but is all the more amazing because much of it was done with only a handful of special effects. Cohen and his crew convey the feeling of going 150 miles per hour so well that at times if feels as thought you are in the car or right there, watching on the sidelines. By using revolutionary techniques, Cohen was able to get the camera as close to the cars as possible without any sort of trickery. However, there is one CGI shot that follows Dominic's hand from the gearshift through the engine and out the exhaust that gets my vote for the coolest shot of the summer.

Though the screenplay is thin at times, there are moments where, beneath the roaring engines and tremendous stunts, some character development lies. I enjoyed the way the script finds time to give each character some backstory and that each member of Toretto's gang gets a moment or two to shine, as opposed to simply being wallpaper to the Diesel and Walker characters.

Just as the world of street racing revolves around Dominic, so does the movie around Vin Diesel. This is a career-making performance for the muscular actor as he commands the viewer's attention every second he appears on screen. It is rare that throughout the course of a film it is so apparent that a star has "arrived," but with this performance by Vin Diesel, there is no doubt that he will go far. He is charismatic, somber, threatening, humorous and immensely talented. Opposite Diesel is Paul Walker, playing the typical Southern California surfer type. Walker is less than perfect and next to Diesel he looks particularly less than stellar. That is not to say that Walker gives a bad performance, as several scenes he has with both Diesel and Jordana Brewster show promise.

It is wrong to call The Fast and the Furious just a guilty pleasure. It is a fun film that is stylistically interesting and paints a perfect picture of the street racing subculture. A mammoth hit in its box office run, there is already talk of a sequel in the works, thanks in large part to its open-ended finale. Though it is a safe bet that a title like The Faster and the More Furious is out of the running, I say bring it on.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The Fast and the Furious features what can easily be called one of the best live action transfers I have ever had the privilege to gaze upon. From the start it is apparent that the print used is in pristine condition with no flaws or scratches evident. As the film moves along, vibrant colors are provided with the bright orange of Brian's car showing no bleeding while other colors come off perfectly. Sharpness and detail are of consistently high quality, and they look better on this DVD than they did in the theater. This is a reference quality transfer from start to finish.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchno
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno
DTSEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: As blown away as I was by the video portion of the disc, nothing could prepare me for the sonic experience provided in the Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks. Just as the film places you in the midst of a street race, so does the sound mix. Beginning in chapter 4 and getting increasingly stronger as the film goes on, this is a mix that never lets up. Surround speakers are constantly active with the sounds of engines or ambient sounds, as well as the large collection of hip-hop and rock music used in the film. It would be easy to continue to bestow praise on the surround effects, but luckily the other speakers are amazingly active. The left and right speakers do a nice job of blending the mix together for an enveloping feel, as well as creating a nice panning effect at the start of chapter 11 when the dialogue begins in one corner of the room and continues through to other side. The .1 LFE mix provides powerful low end bass that shakes the room as the vehicles fly by, while dialogue sounds clean without any distortion.

A head to head comparison between the DTS and Dolby Digital tracks shows that the DTS track offers tighter and cleaner bass, while the surround and dialogue channels feel brighter and a bit more defined than its Dolby Digital counterpart.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 19 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
8 Deleted Scenes
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
3 Featurette(s)
Storyboard
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Rob Cohen
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:43m:10s

Extra Extras:
  1. Racer X: The article that inspired The Fast And The Furious
  2. Multi angle stunt sequence
  3. Music videos for: Furious by Ja Rule, POV City anthem by Cadillac Tah, and Click Click Boom by Saliva
  4. DVD ROM features including screensavers, behind the scenes footage and demo for the video game "Supercar Street Challenge"
Extras Review: Since The Fast and the Furious beat all challengers in its theatrical release it is no surprise that Universal has crafted a loaded Collector's Edition that ranks among the best single disc DVDs I have seen recently.

First is a screen-specific commentary by director Rob Cohen that proves to be interesting, even if self-congratulatory. Cohen blows through the track with lightning fast speech and is generally well spoken as he talks about every aspect of the production. The most interesting moments in the track come when he boldly compares The Fast and the Furious to Stagecoach as well as West Side Story. Come on Rob, you're flick is good, but it isn't that good.

The Making of the Fast and the Furious runs twenty minutes and is largely promotional in its feel, but it does offer interesting information. Featuring interviews with the four lead actors, technical advisors, Cohen and producer Neal Moritz, it is certainly better than others I have seen, but there is something lacking. We are shown several scenes about the stunts and the filming of the car scenes, which is nice, but they are never expanded upon. Instead, we cut back to an actor or Cohen talking about how great it is to work with so and so. Nice, but I wanted more.

A selection of eight deleted scenes is provided with or without commentary by the director. Each one, for the most part, is right in its exclusion from the film. What is most interesting and helpful is that the menu housing the list of the deleted scenes features background narration by Cohen discussing the reasons why he deleted the clips. A helpful "Play All" feature is also included at the bottom of the menu page.

The Multi Angle Stunt Sequence is a selection of eight camera angles for the final sequence of the picture. From the menu you may choose one of the eight angles by way of a helpful system that plays a sample of each clip before you choose it. This is a nice feature, but for those not looking to watch each one, look around the main menu for an easter egg that is a montage of the eight clips.

Next are three extra features with the same theme, that of storyboard and CGI tests in relation to the final film. First is a Visual Effects Montage that shows several of the CGI effects in the film from concept and modeling as well as the original storyboards. Movie Magic Interactive Special Effects is a selection of three clips from the final scene in their composite form as well as the finished version. This isn't a particularly interesting feature, but for those wondering how they pulled it off, this may answer a few questions.

Perhaps the most interesting extra feature is a five-minute short chronicling the changes made to the film to obtain a PG-13 rating from the MPAA. Director Cohen and editor Peter Honess deconstruct the closing hijacking sequence and try to ascertain what is allowable and what will maintain their overall vision of the picture. It is amazing to see what is considered too graphic and just what is acceptable.

Spread over several menu pages is the original inspiration for the film, an article for Vibe magazine by Kenneth Li titled Racer X. Telling the story of street racing in Queens, New York, this is an interesting read, though it really has little to do with the finished script for the film.

Three music videos are included and each is less than perfect. As I have stated in my reviews before I have a deep dislike of rap and hip hop music, so imagine my glee when I see videos for Furious by Ja Rule as well as POV City Anthem by Caddillac Tah. More my speed is Saliva's Click Click Boom, though the song isn't all that great.

The film's theatrical trailer is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen with Dolby surround but is in truth only the teaser, and the infinitely better trailer is not included. Rounding out the supplements are 19 music highlights, production notes, recommendations, a music promo spot as well as special offers.

DVD-ROM features include screensavers, Weblinks, a photo gallery and a demo for the game Supercar Street Challenge. The demo is interesting, but for muscled up street car games, give me Gran Turismo 3 any day of the week. And last but not least there is a short PSA advising safe driving and a reminder that the stunts in the film were done in a controlled environment with professionals.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

It is likely that The Fast and the Furious will be absent from the upcoming Oscar® nominations (though a snub in the Best Sound category would be a crime), but for the subject matter it doesn't get any better than this. The Collector's Edition DVD from Universal however deserves every accolade it gets, as it features reference quality audio and video portions as well as several terrific extra features. Highly Recommended.

 


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