The Fast and the Furious Trilogy (2001) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action
Universal || PG13 - 320 minutes - $99.98 || March 24, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-03-27


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Rob Cohen, John Singleton, Justin Lin
Writer(s): Gary Scott Thompson (screen story), Gary Scott Thompson and Erik Bergquist and David Ayer (screenplay); 2 Fast 2 Furious: Michael Brandt & Derek Haas and Gary Scott Thompson (story), Michael Brandt & Derek Haas (screenplay); The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift: Chris Morgan (written by)
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Eva Mendes, Bow Wow, Chris Bridges, Cole Hauser, Nathalie Kelley


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 3 Feature Commentaries
  • 24 Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Music Videos
  • U-Control
  • Interactive Features
  • MyScenes
  • BD-Live


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1), French (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

The Fast and the Furious (2001) - ***½ / *****

Rob Cohen’s 2001 “high-octane” street racing movie starring thespian actors Vin Diesel and Paul “Bro” Walker was a hit at the theaters hauling in $144.53m at the box office (~$180m adjusted). And although the writing was piss poor aided in large part to the stilted acting skills of Walker, The Fast and the Furious still is a fun movie that I cannot get enough of. You got everything a young male wants: fast cars, hot women, hot women driving fast cars and a simple story. It is a winning formula if I ever saw one.

The Fast and the Furious propelled Vin Diesel into stardom. His name alone looks perfect a top of a poster for that next summer blockbuster and with someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger fading into the background with only moderate success with Terminator 3, Diesel was primed to take over as an action star. 2002 brought another great – and mindless – action vehicle with xXx, but Diesel had higher aspirations which ultimately failed with successful endeavors as A Man Apart, The Chronicles of Riddick and Babylon A.D., though he did get in on that macho-action-star-in-a-kid-friendly-comedy genre with The Pacifier which made a sizeable $113m domestically. Now with a floundering career, he will be returning to the Fast franchise at long last...

And it’s not as if Dominic Toretto is a complex character or anything but Vin Diesel made it his own despite what the script – by Gary Scott Thompson (“Las Vegas”), Erik Bergquist (first and only credit) and David Ayer (Harsh Times) – fails to provide in terms of character development, of course in all honesty, the movie didn’t need it anyway. In any case, Diesel fit perfectly for the role and really made The Fast and the Furious a fun and mindless action movie.

As for Diesel’s esteemed co-star, Paul Walker, while I make fun of the guy, if you look over his career, as a whole he’s had some decent quality movies with the occasional stinkers. But for every Into the Blue there’s Running Scared and Joy Ride. Certainly not award contenders, but solid movies. His Brian O’Conner character isn’t as highly regarded as Toretto (most people will gravitate to the bad guy over a bland good guy), but if Tokyo Drift showed anything, it was without either the original’s stars, it would not make an impact in both the box office nor audiences.

The rest of the cast fill up the roles great from Michelle Rodriguez as Dom’s hot and saucy squeeze to Jordana Brewster as Toretto’s sister who gets involved with O’Conner who, of course, is undercover to take down Toretto.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) **½ / *****

After watching 2 Fast 2 Furious for the first time in years, I was a little surprised to discover it didn’t suck as much as I remembered. This isn’t to say the sequel to The Fast and the Furious was that good but it provides around 100-minutes to kill if you have nothing better to do.

What is far more obvious this time around is truly how atrocious Paul Walker is with even more stilted writing and a thinner storyline. This time around, Walker’s Brian O’Conner is on the run from the police after letting his suspect, Dom, go at the end of the first movie. He makes money racing the streets of Miami, but his luck catches up with him when the Customs Agent Markham (James Remar), with the help of FBI Agent Bilkins (Thom Barry reprising his role from the original), tap Brian to help take down a drug exporter named Carter Verone (Cole Hauser).

Working undercover at Verone’s camp is Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes), who has a past with Brian. O’Conner also gets help from a former friend in Roman (Tyrese) and they work together to take Verone down and clear their extensive criminal records.

The Fast sequel isn’t one of those god-awful movies, at least for me, that are tough to sit through especially when half of it is just street racing in one shape or another. This time around the cars are more colorful with neon pinks, greens, etc and the soundtrack is geared more towards rap/hip-hop than the rock of the original.

The opening race is pretty damn good and while the movie sorely misses the bad ass charisma of Vin Diesel, the movie at least gets an average grade which given the material, isn’t too bad. The movie also features a couple hotties with Eva Mendes and Devon Aoki, though neither hold a candle to the Michelle Rodriguez/Jordana Brewster team.

2 Fast 2 Furious was directed by John Singleton (Four Brothers) with the story and screenplay by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas (3:10 to Yuma, Wanted) with additional story credit to Fast and the Furious creator, Gary Scott Thompson.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) **¼ / *****

The third outing of the racing series, while never coming close to the original in terms of the racing or charisma of its stars, actually holds up better than expected. It’s not to say Tokyo Drift is that great of a movie, even for the genre, but the stunt work was great and the racing sequences highly suspenseful, so I don’t have that much to complain about if I were to ignore story, acting and character development.

Now, with The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, not even Walker wanted to come back and we’re given a new hero in Lucas Black (Jarhead) playing Sean Boswell, a troubled teen who moves from city to city with his mother and only ends up getting in trouble. After a street race with a football jock (former “Home Improvement”-er Zachery Ty Bryan) causing destruction, mayhem, bodily injury (though somehow not life threatening) and loss of hearing he is sent to Tokyo to live with his military father. It’s not too long until he discovers Tokyo’s racing community and a new style called “drifting.”

Our hero butts heads with the “Drift King” (Brian Tee), aligns with DK’s partner, Han (Sung Kang) -- a friendship reminiscent of the Dom/Brian dynamic in FATF1 -- and falls for the lovely Neela (Nathalie Kelley). Of course, although the two have a mutual attraction, she is DK’s girl and thus things get personal between DK and Sean.

At face value, Tokyo Drift is an OK movie but far below the original in quality and even story, but I still would appreciate at least a smidgen of charisma, something which Vin Diesel and, to a certain extent, Tyrese had in the previous installments. Lucas Black showed that he has the acting chops to take a leading role (see: Jarhead), unfortunately, however, the character is so ordinary and uninteresting that any form of emotion the writers try to inject, fall flat. I know these kind of movies aren’t going to be heavy in that department, but I need to at least care about these characters in order to root for (or against) them. Instead, what I felt was I was watching some kind of TV movie produced by MTV or *gasp* The N.

Since Black’s character isn’t fully developed, there is no hope for Brian Tee, Nathalie Kelley, Sung Kang or Bow Wow. For his part, Kang makes a good mentor-type to teach Sean how to drift and even though he’s likable, I don’t think they did a good job fleshing it out anymore. His character is more of the Japanese counterpart to Diesel’s character from FATF1 and there is some insight into Han’s checkered background (he is partnered up with bad guy DK after all), but we know that Diesel wasn’t a great and despite that, we still root for him. Thankfully we may get more of Han’s character with the upcoming release of Fast & Furious.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Fast and the Furious Blu-ray release comes in a semi-durable glossy cardboard box (like the Spider-Man set), so don’t expect anything special a la The Bourne set...

Like in my review for The Bourne Trilogy Blu-ray set, I will combine that features that are on each disc:

MyScenes is a throw-away feature where you can bookmark scenes. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

U-Control (Profile 1.1/2.0): Although it varies per Blu-ray disc, I always felt this was a cool feature. On all three movies you get “Tech Specs” where you can get info on the cars; “Picture in Picture” is the best which has comments from the cast and crew, most pertaining to the scene at hand. 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift also included “Animated Anecdotes” (pop-up trivia), “Storyboards” and “GPS”. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

BD-Live: Those with Profile 2.0 players can check out online features through your Blu-ray player. Don’t get too excited as there’s rarely anything of value especially with 3 catalogue titles. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Last, all three movies come with digital copies that can be used with iTunes. ** Blu-ray Exclusives **

The Fast and the Furious ****¼ / *****

Feature Commentary with Director Rob Cohen

Dom’s Charger (4:22) – This new feature (also on the new DVD) takes a look at the classic Charger featured in The Fast and the Furious and also includes footage from the upcoming Fast & Furious.

Quarter Mile at a Time (9:44) – Another new feature is a historical look at car racing dating back to the 1940s and the effect it had including the creation of NASCAR and drag racing out West in California.

The Fast and the Furious Video Mash-Up (Profile 2.0) is a cool little feature where you can take a song track and make your own music video. Then you can save the video and upload it for others to watch. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Deleted Scenes w/ Optional Commentary (6:24), Hot Off the Street (4:42), More Than Furious (2:23) – There are several scenes, most of which are just some pointless/needless character exposition. “Hot Off the Street” and “More Than Furious” are both deleted scenes (one an alternate ending) that was previously available on the third disc of the “Franchise Collection” that came out in preparation for Tokyo Drift. I’m a little surprised Universal didn’t use any of them to put together an unrated cut. I’m fairly sure these were used at some point in the multiple DVD releases. Altogether that is over 13-minutes of deleted footage.

The Making of The Fast and the Furious (18:03) is just your basic behind-the-scenes featurette on where the story came from and members of the cast and crew explain the story or characters.

Tricking Out a Hot Import Car (19:13) is hosted by a Playboy Playmate of the Year (2002) interviewing a technical advisor and explains how cars were modified and used in the film. They go from a basic car and show how to make it into a hot, tricked out car!

Turbo-Charged Prelude to 2 Fast 2 Furious (6:12) – This is a short film starring Paul Walker, filling in the gap between the two movies with Brian O’Conner going on the run the police are hot on his trail. He takes on races across the country to make money as he lands in Miami.

Multiple Camera Angle – Stunt Sequence – Here you can watch the final crash scene via 8 different angles and then watch the final film sequence to see how the combined them all for the thrilling finale. Similarly, Movie Magic Interactive – Special Effects you can look at 3 different angles of another scene near the end.

Featurette on Editing for the MPAA (4:36) shows how Rob Cohen cuts certain scenes with his editor so that they can get a PG-13 rating. Another surprise that the studio has not used the footage to release an unrated cut (but that could be next given the numerous releases).

The rest of the disc includes Paul Walker’s PSA (0:36), Visual Effects Montage (3:44), Storyboard-to-Final Feature Comparison (6:50), a Sneak Peek at 2 Fast 2 Furious (5:11), 3 music videos and the theatrical trailer (1:43). There is also the “D-Box Motion” for those who actually have the expensive equipment needed to enjoy this feature.

2 Fast 2 Furious ***¾ / *****

Feature Commentary with Director John Singleton

Fast Females (7:54) is a featurette with some new and old interview footage (mostly old) that focuses on the females of the series: Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Devon Aoki, Eva Mendes and Nathalie Kelley.

Hollywood Impact (13:23) is a special on what impact the Fast and the Furious movies had on cinema (The Bourne Trilogy, Back to the Future, American Graffiti, Smokey and the Bandit and “Knight Rider”, “Magnum PI” all not coincidentally Universal TV/films). Cool thing about this featurette is it features comments from film critic Leonard Maltin along with crew members of the films.

Turbo-Charged Prelude to 2 Fast 2 Furious (6:12) – This is a short film starring Paul Walker, filling in the gap between the two movies with Brian O’Conner going on the run the police are hot on his trail. He takes on races across the country to make money as he lands in Miami.

Deleted Scenes (6:06) begins with comments for each scene by director Singleton and the editor. None of the scenes are that great but contain the same acting level seen in the film... Furious Afterburns (3:23) was available as part of the third disc in the “Franchise Collection” and are two more deleted/extended scenes.

Outtakes (2:43) – Move flubs, trips, falls (mainly from Tyrese) and all the good stuff we’re used to.

There are also a few featurettes that could easily be skipped: Inside 2 Fast 2 Furious (10:02); Actor Driving School (6:38) where you get to follow Tyrese, Paul Walker and Devon Aoki; Tricking Out a Hot Import Car (3:21) which is more of a Cliff’s Notes of the other version available on the first movie’s Blu-ray (16-minutes shorter); Supercharged Stunts (5:28) going over the stunt work featured in the movie taking a closer look at the car jump onto a boat; Making Music with Ludacris (4:59), a behind-the-scenes look at the making of his music video and an interview with Ludacris; and finally Actor (6:58) and Car Spotlights (9:15).

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift ****¼ / *****

Almost everything has been ported over from the HD DVD release.

Feature Commentary with Director Justin Lin

Making the Fast Franchise (17:02) – This comprises mainly older interview footage, with some new stuff including footage for Fast & Furious with the various cast and crews between the 3 movies with sound bites we’ve heard before. This one I guess puts together everything together for a more cohesive making-of.

Drift: A Sideways Craze (60:00) – This is an extensive documentary on drifting featuring interviews with the real deal professional drivers (and amateurs) as they explain why it’s so different from racing or other sports out there. The documentary follows drifters as they talk about the sport and show off their life in school or drifting. It is a well produced documentary that is a must watch for those interest in the subject matter.

Custom-Made Drifter allows you to create your own car from paint jobs, wheels and highlights. It’s a fairly simple application with limited choices and then your car will be placed into a scene. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Deleted Scenes (19:05) - There are 11 deleted scenes with an optional commentary. Presented in non-anamorphic widescreen, these scenes don’t add too much but you do get to see some more cultural oddities including a dance that looks curiously like the ‘Macarena’. As for Ling’s commentary, a majority of these were deleted for pacing, though there was a couple he struggled between leaving in and cutting.

Drifting School (7:25) - A good portion of the cast each got lessons on racing and drifting. Apparently, the cast member who made the greatest stride was Nathalie who only recently got her license.

Cast Cam (4:13) - Extras on the set have their own cameras going on the street and on soundstages, chat up various members of the cast and crew. Watching them race in carts was funny, but this is a throwaway junk (more suitable for the Net).

The Big Breakdown: Han’s Last Ride (8:08) - Probably the best of the features could’ve been broken down better, but what I found most interesting was the sequence was filmed in Los Angeles near Wilshire and other parts in a parking lot. It was cool to see how they integrated Tokyo (via visual effects) with real elements.

Tricked Out to Drift (10:36) - A look at the making of the drift cars outfitting with the proper engine parts to making the exterior camera friendly using fiberglass mixed with kits.

Welcome to Drifting (6:17) covers more on drifting and how it fit in with the story of Tokyo Drift. Cast and crew explain what it is and how cool it looks.

The Real Drift King (3:34) features sound bites (through an interpreter) with the real drift king and how he got started. Not much in the way of information, but interesting to see that he doesn’t come across as a racer.

The Japanese Way (9:25) - Pretty much a making-of featurette that could’ve been great if it had been put together better. It takes a look at filming in Tokyo (where it is tough to get permits) and about working within this culture where many shots were taken (or stolen) using hand-held cameras and just putting the actors out there with regular people. The disc also features 2 music videos.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

All three Blu-rays come on BD-50 discs.

VIDEO:
The Fast and the Furious **** / *****
Despite some noise during some scenes, this 8-year-old movie looks good for its age. Colors look great without getting blown out so they “enhance” the effectiveness of HD. The movie is presented in its OAR of 2.35 and in 1080p high-definition.

2 Fast 2 Furious ****¼ / *****
Much like the video quality on The Fast and the Furious, this one has its fair share of noise but I didn’t notice much in the way of dust or scratches. The visuals this time around are brighter with the Miami neon colors and the picture is fairly sharp. The film comes with a 2.35 aspect ratio and almighty 1080p high-def.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift ****½ / *****
Being the newest of the Furious bunch, it’s no surprise that it looks the best especially with the massive amount of neon colors that makes the palette in 2 Fast look like washed out mess... In any case, while parts looked a tad soft in places and there was a noticeable amount of noise during night scenes (through no fault of the transfer, it is no doubt what was captured), the picture looks excellent. Like the other two, this one is presented in its OAR and in 1080p high-definition. Woo hoo!

AUDIO:
The Fast and the Furious ****½ / *****
The movie comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that sounds fine but only a moderate improvement over the DTS 5.1 track (which in itself was great) that came with the DVD and probably on par with the Dolby Digital Plus that came with the HD DVD release.

2 Fast 2 Furious ****½ / *****
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sounds great with good use of my subwoofer thumping to Ludacris. The audio itself for this movie is well balanced between the racing scenes via the center and front speakers with my rear ones getting some use as well. Say what you will about the movie, but it doesn’t sound too bad at all.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift ****½ / *****
The last one of the set receives a DTS-HD Master Audio track that sounds excellent. Although at times I felt dialogue was a tad too low in certain scenes and then back to a good level in others, the audio experience is fantastic with the whipping of cars or the screeching of tires as they drift around curves.



.::OVERALL::.

As far as mindless action movies goes, The Fast and the Furious franchise is right up there. Not sure if that’s a compliment or not, but having now seen each of them back to back to back, I found that each was fairly entertaining for what they are. The acting in all three is pretty bad and there’s not really a storyline there, but even with all the flaws, I found myself at least semi-entertained. No, 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift are not that great, but I think they have more staying power than some movies of the same caliber.

In regards to the Blu-ray set, the $99.96 SRP Universal set on it is excessive especially for three catalogue titles. I can only assume the price will eventually go down, but probably not before each disc will be on sale. With Fast & Furious getting released to theaters very soon, I’m certain Universal will offer something new when that comes on DVD/Blu-ray.