The Fast and the Furious (2001 film)

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The Fast and the Furious
Fast and the furious poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRob Cohen
Screenplay by
Story byGary Scott Thompson
Based on"Racer X"
by Ken Li
Produced byNeal H. Moritz
CinematographyEricson Core
Edited byPeter Honess
Music byBT
Distributed byUniversal Pictures[1]
Release dates
Running time
106 minutes[2]
Budget$38 million[2]
Box office$207.3 million[2]

The Fast and the Furious is a 2001 action film directed by Rob Cohen from a screenplay by Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist, and David Ayer, based on the Vibe magazine article "Racer X" by Ken Li. The first installment in the Fast & Furious franchise, it stars Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong, and Ted Levine. In the film, Brian O'Conner (Walker), an LAPD officer, goes undercover in the street racing world to investigate a group of unknown hijackers, believed to be led by Dominic Toretto (Diesel).

The Fast and the Furious entered development in late 1998, after Cohen read the Vibe article about illegal street racing in New York City.[4] Thompson and Bergquist wrote the original screenplay that year, with Ayer hired soon after.[5] Various actors were considered for the roles of O'Conner and Toretto, with Walker cast in 1998 and then Diesel in early 1999, with the pair attending actual street races in preparation for the film.[6] Principal photography began in July 2000 and finished that October, with filming locations primarily including Los Angeles and the surrounding area in southern California.[7] Record producer BT was hired to compose the score.

The Fast and the Furious premiered at the Mann Village Theatre in Los Angeles on June 18, 2001, and was released in the United States on June 22, by Universal Pictures. The film received mixed reviews from critics, with criticism for its story, but praise for the action sequences and Walker and Diesel's performances, with the film considered their breakthrough roles. The Fast and the Furious grossed over $207 million worldwide. It was followed by 2 Fast 2 Furious in 2003.


On a deserted highway, a heist crew driving three modified Honda Civics assault a truck carrying electronic goods, steal its cargo, and escape into the night. A joint Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and FBI task force sends LAPD officer Brian O'Conner undercover to locate the crew. He begins his investigation at Toretto's Market and flirts with its owner Mia, sister of the infamous street racer Dominic Toretto, while Dominic sits in the back office reading a newspaper. Dominic's crew—Vince, Leon, Jesse, and Dom's girlfriend Letty—arrives. Vince, who has a crush on Mia, starts a fight with Brian until Dominic intervenes and subsequently bans Brian from coming to the market again.

That night, Brian brings a modified 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse to an illegal street race, hoping to find a lead on the thieves. Dominic arrives in his Mazda RX-7 and initiates a drag race between himself, Brian and two other drivers. Lacking credibility, Brian is forced to wager his car. Dominic wins the race after Brian's car malfunctions, but the LAPD arrives before Dom can take the vehicle. Brian helps Dominic escape in the Eclipse, but they accidentally venture into the territory of Dominic's old racing rival, gang leader Johnny Tran and his cousin Lance Nguyen, who destroy the Eclipse. After returning to safety, Dominic reiterates that Brian still owes him a "10 second car".

Brian brings a damaged 1994 Toyota Supra to Dominic's garage as a replacement. Dominic and his crew begin the long process of restoring the vehicle, and Brian starts dating Mia. He also begins investigating Tran, convinced that he is the mastermind behind the truck hijackings. While investigating one garage at night, Brian is discovered by Dominic and Vince, but manages to convince them that, like them, he is researching his opponents' vehicles for the upcoming desert Race Wars. Together, the trio investigate Tran's garage, discovering a large quantity of electronic goods.

Brian reports the discovery to his superiors and Tran and Lance are arrested. The electronics are proved to have been purchased legally, and Brian is forced to confront his suspicion that Dominic is the true mastermind. Brian is given 36 hours to find the heist crew, as the truckers are now arming themselves to defend against the hijackings. The following day, Dominic and Brian attend Race Wars. There, Jesse wagers his father's MK3 Volkswagen Jetta against Tran in his Honda S2000, but flees with the car after he loses. Tran demands Dominic recover the vehicle. He also accuses Dominic of reporting him to the police, causing Dominic to attack him, requiring security guards to break up the fight.

That night, Brian witnesses Dominic and his crew leaving and realizes they are the hijackers. He reveals his true identity to Mia and convinces her to help him find the crew. Dominic, Letty, Vince, and Leon attack a semi-trailer truck, intending it to be their final heist. The armed driver shoots Vince and runs Letty off the road. Brian arrives with Mia and rescues Vince, but is forced to reveal his identity as he calls in emergency medical care to save Vince. Dominic, Mia and the rest of the crew leave before the authorities can arrive.

Some time later, Brian arrives at Dominic's house to apprehend him as Dominic is getting his father's 1970 Dodge Charger R/T out of the garage. He demands Brian leave, since he is not running, but rather going to rescue Jesse who has no one else to look after him. Jesse suddenly arrives at the house and pleads for protection, but Tran and Lance perform a drive-by shooting on motorcycles seconds later, killing Jesse. Brian and Dominic give chase in their separate vehicles, finding and killing Tran and injuring Lance. Brian then pursues Dominic, with them both eventually acquiescing to a quarter-mile drag race. The pair barely cross a railroad before a train passes, which ends the race in a draw, but Dominic crashes his car into a truck. Instead of arresting him, Brian gives Dominic the keys to his own car, asserting that he still owes him a 10-second car from their first race. Dominic leaves in the Supra as Brian walks away.

In the post-credits scene, Dominic is seen driving through Baja California, Mexico, in a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS.


Paul Walker (left) in 2009, Vin Diesel in 2013, and Michelle Rodriguez in 2018

The central cast is rounded out Ted Levine and Thom Barry as Tanner and Bilkins respectively, members of the team that organized the investigation to place Brian undercover. Matt Schulze appears as Vince, a member of Dom's crew and his childhood friend. He harbors an unrequited love for Mia. Noel Gugliemi appears as Hector, the organizer of the drag race. Musician and rapper Ja Rule and car tuner R.J. de Vera also act as Edwin and Danny, fellow drivers at the drag race who race against Dom and Brian. Vyto Ruginis plays Harry, an informant and owner of The Racer's Edge. Reggie Lee portrays Lance Nguyen, Tran's cousin, and right-hand man. Neal H. Moritz and Rob Cohen both appear in cameos; Moritz plays an unnamed driver of a black Ferrari F355 convertible who is given a challenge by Brian, while Cohen plays a Pizza Hut delivery man.



Director Rob Cohen was inspired to make the film after reading a 1998 Vibe magazine article called "Racer X" about street racing in New York City[4] and watching an actual illegal street race at night in Los Angeles, with the screenplay originally developed by Gary Scott Thompson and Erik Bergquist. The film's original title was Redline before it was changed to The Fast and the Furious.[8] Roger Corman licensed the title rights of his 1954 film The Fast and the Furious to Universal Pictures so that the title could be used on this project; both films were about racing.[9] David Ayer was brought into the project to help rework the script. Ayer changed it from the "mostly white and suburban story" set in New York to a diverse one set in Los Angeles.[10]

Producer Neal H. Moritz, who had previously worked with Paul Walker on the film The Skulls (2000), gave the actor a script and offered him the role of Brian O'Conner. Eminem was offered the role, but turned it down to work on the film 8 Mile (2002), and Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale were also considered for the role.[11] Originally, the studio told the producers they would green-light the film if they could get Timothy Olyphant to play the role of Dominic Toretto. Olyphant, however, who had starred in the previous year's car-themed film Gone in 60 Seconds, declined the role. Moritz instead suggested Vin Diesel, who had to be convinced to take the role even though he had only played supporting roles up to that point.[6] The role of Mia Toretto was originally written for Eliza Dushku, who turned down the role, and Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jessica Biel, Kirsten Dunst, and Natalie Portman auditioned for it.[11]


The film was shot in various locations within Los Angeles and parts of southern California, from June 26, to October 25, 2000. Key locations included Dodger Stadium (the opening scene where Brian tests his Eclipse in the parking lot), Angelino Heights, Silver Lake and Echo Park (the neighborhoods around the Toretto house), 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).[12] 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 Dom, 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 Dom's car to crash through the semi-truck and fly in mid-air.

An alternate ending titled "More than Furious" was filmed, in which Tanner drops Brian off at the Toretto house, where he encounters Mia packing, intending to move away. Brian reveals that he resigned from the LAPD, who let him go quietly, and that he wants another chance with her. When Mia tells him that it's not going to be that simple, Brian tells her that he's got time. This ending was released in the collection bundle DVD version.

During the filming of the movie, seventy-eight cars were wrecked both on and off-screen. Out of the seventy-eight cars, three cars were shown being destroyed in the film's trailer alone.[13]


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.


Box office[edit]

The Fast and the Furious was released on June 22, 2001, in North America and ranked #1 at the box office ahead of Dr. Dolittle 2, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Atlantis: The Lost Empire, earning $40,089,015 during its opening weekend.[14] The film became one of the four consecutive Universal films of 2001 to gross $40 million in their opening weekends, with the others being Jurassic Park III, American Pie 2 and The Mummy Returns.[15] Its widest release was 2,889 theaters. During its run, the film has made a domestic total of $144,533,925 along with an international total of $62,750,000 bringing its worldwide total of $207,283,925 on a budget of $38 million.[16]

Home media[edit]

The Fast and the Furious was released on DVD and VHS on January 2, 2002.[17] The DVD release sold 2.1 million copies during its first day of release, making it the second-highest single-day DVD sales of any film, behind Pearl Harbor. The film also made $18.6 million in DVD rentals, which was the highest at the time, beating Cast Away.[18] It would hold this record for four months until it was surpassed by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone that May.[19] More than 5.5 million home video units were sold by April 2002.[20] A second DVD release, dubbed the "Tricked Out Edition", was released on June 3, 2003, and features The Turbo Charged Prelude for 2 Fast 2 Furious, a short film that set the tone of the film's sequel. An abridged version of the short film is also on the sequel's DVD release.[21]


Racing Champions released diecast metal replicas of the film's cars in different scales from 1/18 to 1/64.[22] RadioShack sold ZipZaps micro RC versions of the cars in 2002.[23] 1/24 scale plastic model kits of the hero cars were manufactured by AMT Ertl.[24]


Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, The Fast and the Furious has an approval rating of 55% based on 153 reviews, and an average rating of 5.40/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Sleek and shiny on the surface, The Fast and the Furious recalls those cheesy teenage exploitation flicks of the 1950s."[25] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 58 out of 100 based on 29 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[26] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[27]

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."[28] 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."[29] Vin Diesel's portrayal of Dominic Torretto won praise, with Reece Pendleton of the Chicago Reader writing that "Diesel carries the movie with his unsettling mix of Zen-like tranquillity and barely controlled rage."[30] Future franchise director Louis Leterrier and star Jason Statham went to watch the film in Paris in 2001 while on a break from filming The Transporter (2002), and praised it.[31]

Other reviews were more mixed. Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today gave the film 212 out of 4 stars, saying that Cohen "at least knows how to keep matters moving and the action sequences exciting."[32] 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."[33] 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."[34] 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.[35]


Award Category Nominee Result
AFI Award Cinematographer of the Year Ericson Core Nominated
ALMA Award Outstanding Song in a Motion Picture Soundtrack The Fast and the Furious for the song "Put It On Me" Nominated
ASCAP Award Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures Ja Rule for the song "Put It On Me" Won
Black Reel Theatrical – Best Actor Vin Diesel Nominated
BMI Film Music Award BT Won
Golden Trailer Best Action The Fast and the Furious Nominated
Hollywood Breakthrough Award Breakthrough Male Performance Paul Walker Won
Golden Reel Award (Motion Picture Sound Editors) Best Sound Editing – Effects & Foley, Domestic Feature Film Bruce Stambler (supervising sound editor)
Jay Nierenberg (supervising sound editor)
Michael Dressel (supervising foley editor)
Steve Mann (sound editor)
Kim Secrist (sound editor)
Steve Nelson (sound editor)
Howard Neiman (sound editor)
Glenn Hoskinson (sound editor)
Tim Walston (sound effects designer)
Charles Deenen (sound effects designer)
Scott Curtis (foley editor)
Dan Yale (foley editor)
Golden Reel Award (Motion Picture Sound Editors) Best Sound Editing – Dialogue & ADR, Domestic Feature Film Bruce Stambler (supervising sound editor)
Jay Nierenberg (supervising sound editor)
Becky Sullivan (supervising dialogue editor/supervising adr editor)
Mildred Iatrou (dialogue editor)
Donald L. Warner Jr. (dialogue editor)
Robert Troy (dialogue editor)
Paul Curtis (dialogue editor)
William Dotson (dialogue editor)
Cathie Speakman (dialogue editor)
Nicholas Vincent Korda (adr editor)
Lee Lemont (adr editor)
MTV Movie Award Best On-Screen Team Vin Diesel
Paul Walker
Best Movie The Fast and the Furious Nominated
Best Male Performance Vin Diesel Nominated
Breakthrough Male Performance Paul Walker Nominated
Best Action Sequence The Fast and the Furious Nominated
Stinkers Award Most Intrusive Musical Score Won
Taurus Award Best Driving Matt Johnston
Mike Justus
Debbie Evans
Tim Trella
Christopher J. Tuck
Kevin Scott (semi driver)
Best Work With a Vehicle Christopher J. Tuck
Mike Justus
Best Stunt by a Stunt Woman Debbie Evans Won
Best Stunt by a Stunt Man Christopher J. Tuck
Tim Trella
Best Stunt Coordinator and/or 2nd Unit Director: Feature Film Mic Rodgers Won
Best Work With a Vehicle Jimmy N. Roberts Nominated
Hardest Hit Mike Justus Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Sleazebag Rick Yune Nominated
Choice Movie: Hissy Fit Vin Diesel Nominated
Choice Movie: Fight Scene Paul Walker vs. Rick Yune Nominated
Choice Summer Movie The Fast and the Furious Nominated


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  5. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Vin Diesel: 7 Things You Don't Know About Me". Variety. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
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  7. ^ Elvis Mitchell (June 22, 2001). "Getaway Drivers, Take Note: This One's Made for You". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Interview found on the original DVD release
  9. ^ "Roger Corman: How I Made 400 Films, Mentored Coppola and Ended Up Fighting in Court for My Fortune". The Hollywood Reporter. February 25, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  10. ^ "'Fast and Furious' Survived Because It's About Empowerment". May 4, 2021. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
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  15. ^ "Box Office: Audiences Eat Up American Pie 2". ABC News.
  16. ^ "The Fast and the Furious". Box Office Mojo.
  17. ^ "DVD Sales are Fast and Furious". January 8, 2002. Archived from the original on January 22, 2002. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
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  19. ^ "'Potter' casts its rental spell". Ventura County Star. June 6, 2002. p. 67. Archived from the original on August 2, 2022. Retrieved August 2, 2022 – via open access
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  22. ^ "Racing Champions Ertl Company Press Release". Archived from the original on October 11, 2004.
  23. ^ "Micro RC Cars: Mods – RadioShack ZipZaps – These Zaps Zip From Radio Shack". Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  24. ^ "AMT Ertl – The Fast and the Furious". Archived from the original on November 2, 2004.
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  26. ^ "The Fast and the Furious" – via
  27. ^ FAST AND THE FURIOUS, THE (2001) CinemaScore
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  30. ^ Pendleton, Reece (October 26, 1985). "The Fast and the Furious". Chicago Reader. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  31. ^ Hewitt, Chris (March 6, 2023). "With Fast X, The Fast Family Approaches The Finish Line". Empire. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  32. ^ " – Car hoods rev up in 'Fast and Furious'". Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  33. ^ "The Fast and the Furious". June 22, 2001. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  34. ^ The Washington Post – Fast Leaving Logic in the Dust
  35. ^ " – Review: 'Fast and Furious' runs on empty – June 22, 2001".

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