This, the first of three films in the Fast and Furious trilogy, tells the story of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his group of friends Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Jesse (Chad Lindberg), Vince (Matt Schulze), Leon (Johnny Strong) and his sister Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster). By day Dominic and his friends seem like normal people who work in the garage on their cars, have barbeques and seem to have a good old time. Once the night comes, Dominic involves himself in the L.A. street races, something he particula…ly excels at. There is something else that he and his buddies do that prompts the interference of the police and office Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker).
Turns out that Dominic and his buddies are suspects (mostly due to Dominic’s background) of stealing product from trucks of which include high-end audio/video equipment. With a little money from column A and a little from column B, they fix up their cars, go race them, and gain tons of gawking fans who then run to the local custom shop trying to fix up their own cars so they can become the next Dominic in the racing world. Brian’s job is to infiltrate Dominic and his gang, try to prove that Dominic is indeed behind these robberies and bring him down. Unfortunately for Brian, he develops a friendship with these people (well all except Vince for the most part).
As a film in itself, The Fast and The Furious is entertaining if only for the cars and the characters. Vin Diesel plays that bad-ass type character that is seemingly so bad-ass that you want him to succeed and thwart these cops. Also, Paul Walker’s character is rather clichéd (how often have you seen the authority type figure infiltrate a group of bad guys only to become a part of their group?), but Walker portrays this clichéd role in a fine way. The acting is far from award winning, but this film helped propel Walker into much bigger roles (same with Diesel). The other supporting characters are mostly there to play the caring (Mia), the young (Jesse), the mixed (Leon), the babe (Letty), and the obvious (Vince) who seems to know everything.
Yes the plot is rather substandard and does sound like something we have seen numerous times, but the cool race sequences and interesting characters help bring this film to a entertaining level.
The Fast and The Furious arrives from Universal in a 1080p 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio. While not as good as Tokyo Drift, this transfer is still quite impressive.
The best part of this transfer (director Cohen even thinks this too) is that a majority of the film takes place in a manner that is meant to show the day and night of L.A. The lush, bright day is brought alive in a fine manner, but I did notice a few scenes where edge enhancements were present; nothing too annoying, but still there. The night scenes, while not as slightly problematic as the day scenes, did have a bit of grain, particularly around 48 minutes in where Dominic and Vince discover Brian looking into Tran’s business. Here one can detect a hint of grain before Dominic steps out of the light. Again, nothing too annoying, but still present.
Just like the film is suppose to do, the film’s main object of desire, the cars, look (similar to Tokyo) rather sparkly and beautiful. The level of detail is much more impressive here when comparing this side by side to the SD DVD version. Take the scene where Brian has rescued Vince from the truck and his car is thrown to the side. Looking close up, one can detect little dirt particles if they look really close. While this may not amaze everyone, I found it great that the level of detail had been improved so much.
As Director Rob Cohen told us in the new HD-DVD extra, this film looks as good as good as it ever has. While there are a few small negatives here and there, the level of detail in some sequences is excellent resulting in another solid, but not quite a demo-worthy experience from Universal.
Presented in the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 (in English, Francais and Espanol), The Fast and The Furious, as one might expect, is a loud, robust, lively audio experience.
Dialogue throughout the film experience is clear and easy to understand in even the more lively scenes. Take the sequence where Dominic and his team are trying to get the final truck. Lots of action, from shotguns blasts to engines reviving, result in a nice mix of pumped up audio and manageable dialogue.
Dynamic range, similar to Tokyo, is great. Every little effect, from tires screeching during the race with the Ferrari, to crowds cheering for Dominic in the beginning race, come alive bringing a new sense of ‘you’re there’ to the film. I’ve always been a fan of soundtracks that give a good balance of lows and highs. This track does that perfectly giving us a rocking good time.
I was pleasantly surprised that such an active soundtrack came off this good. Chalk up another great performance from Universal.
- Enhanced Viewing With Director Rob Cohen: Similar to the IME that Warner uses, Rob Cohen appears in a little box throughout the course of the film offering many insightful and interesting comments about the film. I liked how Cohen came off as a quite the natural guy who truly showed interest in this. His message about High Definition and what the format will do is worth a listen (toward the end of the film).
- Audio Commentary with Director Rob Cohen: Here Rob Cohen gives us some insight into the film covering numerous topics including casting and his views on nearly every scene.
- Public Service Announcement: Here Paul Walker tells us not to re-enact what we have just seen. Boy, some people must be pretty dumb no?
- Racer X: Here we get to look at the article that inspired the film.
- The Making of The Fast And The Furious: Here we get a bit of insight from Director Rob Cohen on the making. Topics discussed include production details, casting, and film ideas.
- Multiple Camera Angle Stunt Sequence: Here we get to see the final car crash from a bunch of different camera angles.
- Movie Magic Interactive Special Effects: This feature takes a look at the train and car footage and it was merged into one final film sequence.
- Visual Effects Montage: This goes over the visual effects of the film’s first race sequence.
- Deleted Scenes: Here we get a few deleted and extended scenes, most of which do nothing for the film simply because they’re way too short (some as short as 20 seconds).
- Trickin’ Out a Hot Import Car: Here we learn how to spend tons of money on tricking out a hot import car. Like I have this type of money lying around.
- MPAA Editing: This looks into the fight Cohen and team had with the MPAA over the scene with Vince and his arm attached to the truck via wiring.
- Storyboard to Final Feature Comparison: Just as it reads here we get storyboards that help us visualize the final product.
- Music Videos: Here we three music videos from Ja Rule – ‘Furious’, Caddillac Tah – ‘POV Anthem’ and Saliva – ‘Click Click Boom’.
Out of the three films in the series, I’ve probably seen the original Fast and The Furious the most due to the awesome characters (Toretto’s a badass admit it), fast car sequences and good story. Presented with fine video and excellent audio, I would have liked a few more exclusive HD-DVD content here besides the Extended Viewing option. If you like the film, or even if you own the SD DVD, this HD-DVD comes recommended as a fine upgrade.
Special Features List
- Enhanced Viewing With Director Rob Cohen
- Audio Commentary with Director Rob Cohen
- Public Service Announcement
- Racer X
- The Making of The Fast And The Furious
- Multiple Camera Angle Stunt Sequence
- Movie Magic Interactive Special Effects
- Visual Effects Montage
- Deleted Scenes
- Trickin’ Out a Hot Import Car
- MPAA Editing
- Storyboard to Final Feature Comparison
- Music Videos