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Universal Studios Home Video presents
The Fast and the Furious (Tricked Out Edition) (2001)

"Ask any racer. It doesn't matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning is winning."
- Dominic Teretto (Vin Diesel)

Review By: David Krauss   
Published: August 20, 2003

Stars: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong
Other Stars: Ted Levine, Matt Schulze, Ja Rule
Director: Rob Cohen

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (violence, sexual content and language)
Run Time: 01h:46m:44s
Release Date: June 03, 2003
UPC: 025192294921
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- BA-A+ B

DVD Review

The Fast and the Furious is, quite simply, a male fantasy on steroids. Every ingredient required to stoke a guy's libido dominates this heady adrenaline rush that director Rob Cohen calls a film. From the orgasmic cars and white hot racing to street-fighting, sleek weaponry, and, yes, breathtaking women, The Fast and the Furious manipulates a man's mind like an illegal substance, and once we've had a sniff we're hooked.

If there were such a thing as automotive porn, The Fast and the Furious would be rated XXX. Cars replace women as objects of desire and they're lusted after by both sexes. To blow off steam or sharpen their senses, the characters go for a joyride, always experiencing a visceral thrill that's both liberating and addictive. Then it's back to the garage to make love to their vehicles, tweaking and tuning to ensure optimum performance before the next exhilarating race.

While slightly exaggerated, the events portrayed in The Fast and the Furious are, according to Cohen, transpiring this very minute at a thoroughfare near you. It's called "car culture" and thousands of young people live and breathe it, transforming ordinary autos into rocket-powered juggernauts to race on city streets for cash, ownership papers and the idolatry of cheering fans. The fact that it's expensive, dangerous and illegal doesn't faze them; it only fuels the urge and heightens the excitement.

When I first saw The Fast and the Furious several months ago, I didn't give it much of a chance, but found myself seduced and enslaved by all the aphrodisiacs Cohen threw my way. I surrendered to the pace and imagery, and became a willing passenger on Cohen's roller coaster. Now that I've seen the movie twice, I've developed more of an appreciation for its style, originality and the way it immerses the viewer in an unfamiliar subculture. And while The Fast and the Furious is by no means deep, it does contain more substance and subtext than most films in this genre.

Interestingly, the street racing is mere window-dressing for a rather pedestrian undercover cop yarn. It takes awhile, but we eventually discover racing neophyte Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) is trying to infiltrate L.A.'s car culture to nab a ring of electronics thieves who hijack tractor-trailers and sell the booty on the black market. Driving ace Dominic Teretto (Vin Diesel) befriends Brian and takes the young racer under his wing, welcoming him into his circle of misfit speed freaks and allowing him to date his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster). Dazzled by the racing world, Brian begins to identify with and relate to his newfound family, despite their potential involvement in the crimes. As evidence mounts, Brian must decide where his loyalties lie and whether family can or should supersede the law.

The film sounds a bit heavy, but trust me, it's not. Sure, there's some depth, a defining choice, underlying themes and potent emotion, all of which enhance The Fast and the Furious. But the film isn't meant to be thought-provoking or didactic. It's meant to be fun—and on that level it succeeds brilliantly. For every moment of introspection, there's at least one car chase, fistfight, gun battle, and sexual innuendo to keep hearts pumping and eyes glued to the screen.

Walker and Diesel create solid chemistry, with Walker winning the beauty contest and Diesel the acting honors. Much has been written about Diesel's breakout performance and muscular magnetism, both of which still impress and anchor the film. Walker holds his own, although his prettyboy looks compete with and often surpass those of his female co-stars, dialing down his character's toughness. Michelle Rodriguez gets good mileage from a small role, injecting her character with a raw sexuality laced with intimidating bravado, and the exquisite Jordana Brewster adds a few spicy elements to her portrayal of Dominic's straight-arrow sister.

The only performances that really matter, though, take place on the pavement, and the lightning quick, dexterous cars leave their human competition in the dust. One of the film's characters suffers from ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), and from the way Cohen directs The Fast and the Furious, it's as if he believes his audience does, too. While many women might agree with him, they'll be pleased to know that most guys will forget all about the TV remote when they drop this disc into their DVD player. For like all good male fantasies, The Fast and the Furious is pedal-to-the-metal all the way.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: While not perfect, the "Tricked Out" edition is darn close, featuring a crisp, detailed transfer that only occasionally suffers from such annoying flaws as shimmering, fuzzy backgrounds and intermittent grain. Otherwise, the anamorphic widescreen treatment resembles true HD with its razor sharp lines, beautiful contrasts and rock solid black levels. The bright colors of the cars gleam and sparkle without bleeding, and the droplets of sweat on the racers' faces are so vivid you can almost feel the heat at home. Nary a speck or blotch mars the pristine source print, allowing the transfer to truly suck the viewer into the on-screen action.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Spanish, Frenchyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The disc offers two tremendous audio tracks and whether you choose DD 5.1 or DTS Surround your living room will shake, rattle and roll with every engine rev, peel out, lane change and gearshift. Ambient sounds constantly enhance the atmosphere but never seem forced or gimmicky, and the beat of the urban hip-hop music pulsates across all channels, enveloping without overpowering. The subwoofer gets a heavy workout, but the bass never explodes to such a degree that distortion results. Despite all the intense sonic activity, dialogue always comes through cleanly.

I'm a DTS man myself and hearing a mix like this one gives me goose bumps. The DD 5.1 track certainly suffices, but DTS provides much brighter fidelity and zeroes in on the seemingly insignificant details that allow one to experience the film rather than watch it.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring 2 Fast 2 Furious
8 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Rob Cohen
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 01h:14m:05s

Extras Review: The suits at Universal's marketing department cleverly conceived the "Tricked Out" edition to include a carload of spiffy new material so fans would rush out and re-purchase the film. They did their job well, spotlighting the fresh (if skimpy) extras and hiding the old supplements in an "enhanced viewing" mode, which allows one to see featurettes and deleted scenes by clicking on a speedometer icon that periodically pops up during the movie. The concept isn't exactly innovative, but gives this version an intriguing, if frustrating twist. The trouble is the enhanced viewing mode is only available in conjunction with director Rob Cohen's commentary track—a real shame if, like me, you'd prefer to access the material while watching the film with multi-channel sound. Instead, you have to make due with Dolby stereo and slog through the commentary to find the extras, which, in the case of The Fast and the Furious, is the equivalent of rendering a chest-thumping testosterone flick impotent.

Not that the commentary track isn't informative or entertaining. On the contrary, Cohen talks at length about how the various action sequences were constructed and shot, he dissects the screenplay and relates some amusing on-set anecdotes. But it's irksome that the deleted scenes can only be retrieved in this fashion, and that the featurettes run silently in a window without explanation. The original DVD allowed Cohen to comment on the reasons why various scenes were cut—sadly, this version tricks us out of that feature and the multiple angle breakdowns of some of the most exciting stunts and chases.

Of course, the primary reason for this Tricked Out edition was to drum up enthusiasm for the film's sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious. That strategy bombed, given 2 Fast's weak box office reception, but Universal and Paul Walker went to considerable effort to construct an exclusive short film for this DVD that transitions Walker's character from the original movie's L.A. locale to the sequel's Miami setting. The Turbo-Charged Prelude for 2 Fast 2 Furious is a slickly produced five-minute music video featuring no dialogue that follows Walker as he drives cross-country, racing for dollars and eluding the police. As he finally glides down an interstate off-ramp into the land of bodacious bikini-clad babes, we're left with the tagline "2 be continued..."

The Sneak Peak at 2 Fast 2 Furious is a typical five-minute puff piece, with Walker, co-star Tyrese Gibson and director John Singleton shamelessly hyping the new flick through quick sound bytes on the car-culture world, the Miami location, and, you guessed it, sexy women. Walker obviously relishes the flashier vehicles used in the sequel and the opportunity to do more of his own driving.

Of particular interest to auto enthusiasts, Tricking Out a Hot Import Car is a 19-minute how-to guide in the art of souping up a sporty Mitsubishi (and by "hot," we assume—and hope—the producers mean "snazzy," not "stolen"). The Fast and the Furious technical advisor Craig Lieberman demonstrates to Dalene Curtis, the 2002 Playboy Playmate of the Year (mmmm, I wonder what she's doing there...) all the steps involved in the massive overhaul, from painting the exterior and turbo-charging the engine (with plenty of nitrous oxide, of course) to installing a truckload of audio-visual equipment. Although the bimbo and the mechanic are saddled with some wretchedly suggestive dialogue, the featurette is interesting and enlightening. After six weeks and $50,000, the car rolls out of the garage and Curtis takes the drooling Lieberman for a spin.

While all the aforementioned extras are pleasant diversions, I was most impressed with the disc's extensive DVD-ROM features. Simple mouse clicks yield detailed cast and crew biographies (better than those accessed from the DVD player), production notes, a story synopsis, essays on car culture and street racing, 15 music tracks, a glossary of terms, a profile of consultant Craig Lieberman, photo downloads, a screensaver, and desktop wallpaper. There's even a fun (if low-tech) keyboard racing game called "Street Racer," and a preview of The Fast and the Furious video game scheduled for a November 2003 release.

The original theatrical trailer is presented in nonanamorphic widescreen with a DD 5.1 soundtrack. Ditto for the 2 Fast 2 Furious trailer. A couple of insignificant ABC/ESPN sports trailers for college football and golf can easily be skipped.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

If you already own the original The Fast and the Furious DVD, don't waste your money on the "Tricked Out" edition. The high quality video transfer and audio options are exactly the same and the new extras don't merit the twenty-dollar price tag. For those purchasing the film for the first time, track down the original DVD and enjoy a couple of additional supplements, as well as simpler access and full-scale sound on all the featurettes.

But above all, don't let marketing ploys dull your enthusiasm for this high-octane thrill ride. Rob Cohen's fuel-injected love letter to street culture and speed deserves at least a couple of plays on everyone's home theater system. So nail down the furniture, pop some corn, buckle up and go for a ride.

 


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