The Fast and the Furious (2001 film)
|The Fast and the Furious|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rob Cohen|
|Produced by||Neal H. Moritz|
|Story by||Gary Scott Thompson|
|Based on||"Racer X"
by Ken Li
|Edited by||Peter Honess|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$207.3 million|
The Fast and the Furious is a 2001 American crime action film directed by Rob Cohen and starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster. The film follows undercover cop Brian O'Conner (Walker) who must stop semi-truck hijackers led by Dominic Toretto (Diesel) from stealing expensive electronic equipment. The film's concept was inspired by "Racer X", a Vibe magazine article by journalist Ken Li about street racing in New York City.
Filming locations include Los Angeles and parts of southern California. The Fast and the Furious was released on June 22, 2001 to financial success. The film's budget was an estimated $38 million, grossing $207,283,925 worldwide. Critical reaction was mostly mixed, according to review aggregators Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, though both Diesel and Walker were praised in their roles and became household names both in the U.S. and internationally. The film is the first of the franchise. The film was re-released on June 22, 2016 to celebrate its 15th anniversary.
On docks outside Los Angeles, a semi-truck is loaded with electronics, but a corrupt dock worker informs an unknown person about the truck shipment. During the night, while the truck drives on the interstate, it is approached by three heavily modified black Honda Civics with green underglow. The occupants of the Civics immobilize the truck driver, hijack the truck and escape, passing through a roadblock and stealing thousands of dollars worth of shipment.
The next day, undercover LAPD officer Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) is assigned to find the gang responsible for the crimes. Brian uses his cover job at a chop shop to infiltrate the L.A. street racing scene. While visiting Toretto's Market, a local grocery, he flirts with the shop's owner, Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster). Mia is the sister of a well-known street racer, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), who is sitting in the back. Dom's crew, consisting of his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Leon, Vince, and Jesse, arrive. Vince, who has a crush on Mia, starts a fight with Brian. Dominic scolds Vince, and sends Brian away, warning him never to come back.
One night, during a local racing gathering, Brian arrives with his 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX, and Dominic arrives in his 1993 Mazda RX-7. Dominic organizes a drag race with a local betting schemer called Hector, and two other drivers. Brian, out of money, wagers pink slips for his car. During the race, Brian temporarily gains an advantage by using a nitrous oxide turbocharger "nitrous boost," but loses his lead when Dominic uses his own nitrous to catch up to Brian. Brian races too fast and overheats his engine, handing the victory to Dominic. Afterwards, Dominic mocks Brian in front of the crowd.
As Brian prepares to give Dominic the keys to his car, however, the LAPD arrives, forcing everyone to flee. Dominic drives his Mazda RX7 into a local garage and parks it there, intending to walk home, but he is spotted by a police cruiser. Brian arrives and saves Dominic from the cops, earning Dominic's respect. The two men venture into Little Saigon, the territory of Dominic's old racing rival, Vietnamese gang leader Johnny Tran (Rick Yune) and his cousin, Lance Nguyen. Tran and Lance blow up Brian's car. Afterwards, Dominic tells Brian that he owes Dominic a "ten-second car" (a car that can drive a quarter mile in under 11 seconds, from a standstill).
Brian brings a totaled Toyota Supra 2JZ to Dominic's safe house, where he offers his skills as a driver and a mechanic to fix the car. As the crew settles in to repair the car, Brian begins dating Mia (much to Vince's dismay). Brian investigates Hector and Tran, convinced that Tran is responsible for the truck hijackings. After investigating a suspicious purchase from Hector at the parts shop, Brian is cornered by Vince and Dominic, who demand an explanation. Brian lies about checking the cars of his rivals for the upcoming Race Wars, a street racing event in the desert. Brian, Vince, and Dominic check out Tran's garage, and Brian notices a shipment of electronics in the garage.
Brian reports the batch of electronics to his superiors at the LAPD and FBI, and they arrest Tran and Lance. The raid on Tran's garage proves to be a bust, however, as it turns out the electronics had been bought legally. Tran's only infraction is the illegal possession of small weapons, so Tran and Lance are released with no charges. Despite his own doubts, Brian is now forced to assume that Dominic is the actual perpetrator of the truck heists. His superior officer, Bilkins, gives Brian only 36 hours to find the perpetrators or he will be fired.
Meanwhile, with the Supra repaired, Dominic invites Brian to Race Wars, promising that they'll talk once Brian has proven his worth. At the race, Jesse loses his father's Volkswagen Jetta to Tran, but flees with the car after the loss. Tran confronts Dominic, demanding that he retrieve the car for him, but Dominic mocks him. Tran shouts that Dominic ratted him out to the police (unknown to him, it was Brian who did this). Dominic beats up Tran. Later that night, Brian notices the crew leaving, and realizes that Dominic is indeed the hijacker he's been assigned to find. Brian reveals his true identity to Mia, who is furious with him, but at Brian's pleas, reveals the location of the Civics and aids him in his plans.
Meanwhile, Dominic, Letty, Vince, and Leon are driving to their latest target. With Jesse gone, however, they are forced to act without a spare driver. Vince blows the truck's windshield and hooks himself to the seat. When he jumps to the truck, however, the driver shoots at him with his shotgun and swerves, causing Vince to fly over and smash against the side door. He jams his hand within the hook wires and sustains another gunshot wound. Dominic and Letty try to save him, but Letty's car is knocked over and flips from the highway. (She is later saved by Leon.) Meanwhile, Dominic's car is totaled when the driver shoots it through the hood. Brian arrives with Mia, who commandeers the Supra while Brian rescues Vince. When Dominic arrives, Brian is forced to blow his cover as a police officer and calls for a medical evacuation to rescue Vince. Dominic is furious, but manages to control himself. He leaves with Mia and the rest of the crew after Vince is saved.
Brian heads over to Dominic's house to arrest him, but Jesse arrives and pleads for Dominic's help to protect him from Tran. Moments later, Jesse is killed in a drive-by shooting by Tran and Lance. Dominic and Brian pursue them, with Dominic eventually injuring Lance and Brian killing Tran. Brian and Dominic then engage in an impromptu street race, narrowly avoiding a train; Dominic is injured after his car clips a truck. Instead of arresting Dominic, Brian gives him the keys to his own car, making good on his earlier wager to deliver a ten-second car; Dominic is able to escape the police.
- Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto, a professional street racer and leader of the hijackers. He lives with his sister Mia. His father was a professional stock car racer, who was killed during a race by fellow racer Kenny Linder. (Dominic's father's car crashed in the wall and burned.) In retaliation, Dominic beat up Linder, and for that he was banished from the professional racetrack for life. Linder became a school janitor who has to take the bus to work everyday. Dominic becomes a street racer and starts hijacking with his crew; he serves as a driver. He drives a red 1993 Mazda RX-7, and has a custom-built 1970 Dodge Charger in his garage.
- Paul Walker as Brian O'Conner, a Los Angeles Police Department detective who is sent undercover by the FBI to locate and apprehend the crew of truck hijackers. He works part-time at the chop shop The Racer's Edge, owned by Harry, to connect with the street racing scene and find out more about crews. While there he connects with Dom after saving him from being arrested. He also saves Vince at the end by getting him off the truck, blowing his cover by calling in a medivac. Brian first drives a green 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX, later a red Ford Lightning and later on, an orange 1995 Toyota Supra MK IV. Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Eminem were considered for the role of Brian.
- Michelle Rodriguez as Leticia "Letty" Ortiz, Dom's girlfriend and part of the crew. Living on the streets and always into cars, Dom was always her love interest, and she became his when she turned 16. Letty is street-smart and a skilled mechanic and driver, using her skills as one of the drivers during hijackings. She drives a dark-faded red 1998 Nissan 240SX S14.
- Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto, Dom's sister. Although aware of Dom's criminal activities, she is not part of the crew. She runs a little grocery store where the crew usually meets, Brian's love interest, she is unaware that he is a cop. Vince also has a crush on her, establishing his rivalry with Brian. Mia is sad that her brother is a criminal, and wishes that he would reform his ways. Mia is also a very skilled driver and drives an aqua-blue 1997 Acura Integra GSR 4DR.
- Rick Yune as Johnny Tran, Dominic's main rival and leader of the Little Saigon crew. He is initially Brian's prime suspect in the hijacking case. Tran usually drives motorcycles with his cousin Lance, but he also has a custom black 2000 Honda S2000. Tran comes from a very wealthy family, and on his record only has minor offenses: parking tickets, speeding, etc. Tran kills Jesse at the very end, and he is subsequently shot by Brian.
- Chad Lindberg as Jesse, Dominic's friend and part of the crew. He grew up on the streets and he was brought into the crew by Leon. Jesse's father is an old friend of Dom's who is serving time in jail. Although he is brilliant in math and algebra, Jesse suffers from ADD, which resulted in him dropping out of high school. A computer expert, Jesse also participates in hijackings as a driver. Jesse races in his white 1995 Volkswagen Jetta A3. He is killed by Johnny Tran when he escapes after losing a pink slip race to him.
- Johnny Strong as Leon, Dominic's friend and part of the crew. He grew up with Vince and also brought Jesse along. In the hijackings, he serves as an attacker, usually pulling out windshields of trucks to create safe passage for Vince. He drives a yellow 1996 Nissan R33 Skyline GTR. After the heist, it is suggested that he left L.A.
- Matt Schulze as Vince, Dominic's childhood friend and part of the crew. He grew up with Dom and Leon. He has a crush on Dom's sister Mia and dislikes Brian due to the former's attraction to him. He also suspects that Brian is a cop. Vince drives a blue 1999 Nissan Maxima. On the last failed hijacking, Vince is shot by a truck driver, forcing Brian to blow his cover in order to save his life. It is implied that Vince escapes from the hospital and flees to South America, settling in Rio de Janeiro.
- Ted Levine as Tanner, an L.A.P.D. sergeant and Brian's supervisor. He organizes the investigation with the F.B.I., placing Brian undercover.
- Thom Barry as Bilkins, the F.B.I. agent who organizes the joint operation with Tanner.
- Ja Rule as Edwin, a fellow driver at the drag race who drives a red 1997 Acura Integra.
- Vyto Ruginis as Harry, owner of The Racer's Edge chop shop. He is an informant for the L.A.P.D., being under Brian's supervision to avoid serving five years in prison for selling stolen car parts.
- Stanton Rutledge as Muse, an L.A.P.D. officer who works with Brian, Bilkins, and Tanner.
- Noel Gugliemi as Hector, the organizer of the race in which Dom and Brian participate. He works for Tran.
- R. J. De Vera as Danny Yamato, a fellow driver at the drag race who drives a white Honda Civic.
- Beau Holden as Ted Gassner, a car part owner who is tortured by Tran to give him engines for his cars.
- Reggie Lee as Lance Nguyen, Johnny Tran's cousin, who is knocked down by Dominic. It is implied that he is later arrested and sentenced.
- David Douglas as Rasta Racer, who races Letty at Race Wars with an RX-7 but loses.
- Peter Navy Tuiasosopo as Samoan Guard, a security guard at Race Wars. He and Vince break up Dom and Tran after they fight.
- F. Valentino Morales as Dispatcher
- Neal H. Moritz (the film's producer) as Ferrari Driver who races Brian.
- Rob Cohen (the film's director) as Pizza Hut Delivery Guy during the first race scene.
Development and filming
Director Rob Cohen was inspired to make this film after reading a Vibe magazine article about street racing in New York City and watching an actual illegal street race at night in Los Angeles. While the film eventually became titled "The Fast and The Furious", its original name was "Redline" before it was changed.  Roger Corman licensed the title rights of his 1955 film The Fast and the Furious to Universal so that the title could be used on this project; both films were about racing.
The film was shot in various locations within Los Angeles and parts of southern California. Key locations included Dodger Stadium (on the opening scene where Brian tests his Eclipse on the parking lot), Angelino Heights, Silver Lake and Echo Park (the neighborhoods around Toretto's home), as well as Little Saigon (where Tran destroys the Eclipse) and the San Bernardino International Airport (the venue for Race Wars, which attracted over 1,500 import car owners and enthusiasts). The entire last rig heist scene was filmed along Domenigoni Parkway on the southern side of San Jacinto/Hemet in the San Jacinto Valley near Diamond Valley Lake.
Prior to filming, both Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez did not have driver's licenses, so they took driving lessons during production. For the climactic race scene between Brian and Toretto, separate shots of both cars crossing the railroad and the train crossing the street were filmed, then composited together to give the illusion of the train narrowly missing the cars. A long steel rod was used as a ramp for Toretto's car to crash through the semi-truck and fly in mid-air.
The film's score was composed by music producer BT, mixing electronica with hip-hop and industrial influences. Two soundtracks were released for the film. The first one features mostly hip-hop and rap music. The second one, titled More Fast and Furious, features alternative metal, post-grunge and nu metal songs, as well as select tracks from BT's score.
The Fast and the Furious was released on June 22, 2001 in North America and ranked #1 at the box office, earning $40,089,015 during its opening weekend. Its widest release was 2,889 theaters. During its run, the film has made a domestic total of $144,533,925 along with a foreign total of $62,750,000 bringing its worldwide total of $207,283,925 on a budget of $38 million, making it a financial success.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a rating of 53% based on reviews from 147 critics with an average score of 5.4/10, while the audience score was 74% and had an average rating of 3.4/5. The critical consensus reads: "Sleek and shiny on the surface, The Fast and the Furious recalls those cheesy teenage exploitation flicks of the 1950s. On Metacritic, the film gained a metascore of 58 out of 100 based on reviews from 29 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Todd McCarthy of Variety called the film "a gritty and gratifying cheap thrill, Rob Cohen's high-octane hot-car meller is a true rarity these days, a really good exploitationer, the sort of thing that would rule at drive-ins if they still existed." Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called it "an action picture that's surprising in the complexity of its key characters and portents of tragedy." Vin Diesel's portrayal of Dominic Torretto won praise In particular with Reece Pendleton of the Chicago Reader writing "Diesel carries the movie with his unsettling mix of Zen-like tranquillity and barely controlled rage." 
Other reviews were more mixed. Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today gave the film 21⁄2 out of 4 stars, saying that Cohen "at least knows how to keep matters moving and the action sequences exciting." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C, saying it "works hard to be exciting, but the movie scarcely lives up to its title." Rita Kempley of The Washington Post gave the film a scathing review, calling it "Rebel Without a Cause without a cause. The Young and the Restless with gas fumes. The Quick and the Dead with skid marks." Paul Clinton of CNN wrote that Cohen "created a high-octane, rubber-burning extravaganza" but he criticized the film for "plot holes you could drive the proverbial truck through" and an idiotic ending.
The Fast and the Furious was released on DVD on January 2, 2002. A second DVD entitled the "Tricked Out Edition", released on June 3, 2003, featured Turbo-Charged Prelude, a short film that set the tone to the film's sequel. An abridged version of the short film is also on the sequel's DVD release.
Racing Champions released diecast metal replicas of the film's cars in different scales from 1/18 to 1/64. RadioShack sold ZipZaps micro RC versions of the cars in 2002. 1/24 scale plastic model kits of the hero cars were manufactured by AMT Ertl.
- "The Fast and the Furious (2001)".
- "The Fast and the Furious". British Film Institute. London. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
- Elvis Mitchell (2001-06-22). "Getaway Drivers, Take Note: This One's Made for You". The New York Times.
- Interview found on the original DVD release
- Cinema.com – The Fast and the Furious Production Notes
- "The Fast and the Furious-Box Office Mojo".
- "The Fast and the Furious". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster.
- "The Fast and the Furious Reviews-Metacritic".
- McCarthy, Todd (June 21, 2001). "The Fast and the Furious". Variety.
- Los Angeles Times – The Fast and the Furious Review
- "The Fast and the Furious" by Reece Pendleton – Chicago Reader
- USA Today – Car Hoods Rev Up in The Fast and the Furious
- Entertainment Weekly – The Fast and the Furious
- The Washington Post – Fast Leaving Logic in the Dust
- CNN – Review: The Fast and the Furious Runs on Empty
- Racing Champions Ertl Company Press Release
- Micro RC Cars – RadioShack ZipZaps
- AMT Ertl – The Fast and the Furious
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