The Fast and the Furious (2001 film)

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
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 entered development in late 1998, its concept inspired by Li's Vibe article about illegal street racing. Thompson and Bergquist wrote the original screenplay that year, with Ayer hired soon after.[4] 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. Principal photography began in July 2000 and finished that October, with filming locations primarily including Los Angeles and the surrounding area in southern California. 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 Diesel's and Walker's performances, with the film considered their breakthrough roles. The Fast and the Furious grossed over $207 million worldwide. The film's success spawned a franchise, and it was followed by the sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious in 2003.

Plot edit

A heist crew driving three heavily modified Honda Civics hijack a semi-truck trailer carrying electronic goods and escape into the night along Terminal Island Freeway. Meanwhile, LAPD officer Brian O'Conner is sent undercover as part of a joint LAPD-FBI task force to locate the crew responsible. Brian investigates Toretto's Market, managed by Mia, sister of notorious street racer Dominic “Dom” Toretto. When Dom's crew arrives—Vince, Leon, Jesse, and Dom's girlfriend Letty—Vince becomes suspicious of Brian and picks a fight with him. Brian is promptly fired from his job working undercover at Harry's Garage and banned from the Market.

Brian brings a modified 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse RS to a car meet, hoping to find a lead on the heist crew. Dom arrives in his RX-7 and initiates a race. Without credibility, Brian wagers his car; he, Dom, and two other drivers race. Brian's car malfunctions, and Dom wins the race, but LAPD officers arrive, forcing Dom to flee. Brian rescues Dom and helps him escape, inadvertently venturing into territory held by a rival racing gang led by Johnny Tran and his cousin Lance. Tran and Lance destroy the Eclipse, and the two are forced to return to Dom's home on foot. Dom reiterates that Brian still owes him a ten-second car.

Brian delivers a decrepit MK4 Toyota Supra to Dom's garage, and the crew begins the process of restoring it. At the same time, Brian begins dating Mia and looks into Tran's finances. While investigating one of Hector's garages, Brian is discovered by Dom and Vince; he convinces the latter he is researching Tran's gang's vehicles in preparation for Race Wars. In the process, the three discover a large number of electronic goods, which Brian reports to his superiors, LAPD Sergeant Tanner and FBI Special Agent Bilkins. Tran is arrested but found to have acquired the goods legally. An enraged Bilkins berates Tanner and Brian. Tanner then informs Brian that the truck drivers have begun arming themselves to kill the hijackers and notifies him he has 36 hours to find them, whom the former believes was Dom all along.

Brian and Dom attend Race Wars, where Jesse wagers and loses his father's MK3 Volkswagen Jetta in a drag race against Tran driving his Honda S2000. Jesse flees upon losing, resulting in a confrontation between Dom and Tran. Tran accuses Dom of being a narc, and the two fight before being broken up. That evening, Brian witnesses Dom leaving with his crew to carry out the heist. Brian reveals his identity to a distraught Mia, convincing her to help him knowing their danger. Dom, Letty, Vince, and Leon attempt to hijack the truck; the driver fires on Vince, critically injuring him and running Letty off the road in the process. Brian and Mia catch up to help, but Brian is forced to reveal his identity when he calls for MEDEVAC to save Vince. Dom, Mia, Letty, and Leon flee the scene before the police arrive.

Later, Brian arrives to arrest Dom, but the latter demands he leave in order to save Jesse from the danger he's in from Tran's gang. Jesse arrives pleading for help, but is gunned down by Tran and Lance on motorcycles. Brian foregoes his arrest of Dom and gives chase to Tran and Lance, with Dom getting into his father's 1970 Charger R/T to pursue Tran and avenge Jesse. During the chase, Dom runs Lance off the road and Brian kills Tran. Brian then pursues Dom, and the two agree to a quarter-mile race over a railroad crossing. The race narrowly ends in a draw, but Dom is t-boned by a passing truck. Instead of arresting him, Brian hands over the keys to his Supra, reminding Dom he was owed a ten-second car. Brian walks away as Dom drives off.

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

Cast edit

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

The central cast is rounded out by Ted Levine and Thom Barry as Tanner and Bilkins, respectively, members of the team that organized the investigation to place Brian undercover, and Matt Schulze as Vince, a member of Dom's crew and his childhood friend. 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.

Production edit

Development edit

In 2000, actor Paul Walker had worked with director Rob Cohen on The Skulls. Cohen secured a deal with producer Neal H. Moritz for an untitled action film for Universal Pictures, and approached Walker and asked him to suggest his "dream" action film; Walker suggested a mash-up of the films Days of Thunder (1990) and Donnie Brasco (1997).[5] Soon thereafter, Cohen and Moritz brought him the Vibe magazine article "Racer X" by Ken Li, published in May 1998, which detailed underground street racing operating in New York City,[6] and suggested a story set to follow Walker as an undercover cop tasked with infiltrating the world of underground street racing.[5] The screenplay was originally developed by Gary Scott Thompson and Erik Bergquist. 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.[7]

Upon being offered the role, Walker signed on immediately.[5] 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.[8] 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. Olyphant said that he turned down the role as he thought the film would be "stupid".[9] 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.[10] 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.[8] Moritz had difficulty choosing between the titles Racer X (after the article), Redline, Race Wars and Street Wars, but was ultimately inspired by a documentary on American International Pictures, which included the 1954 film The Fast and the Furious. Moritz was traded use of some stock footage to its director, Roger Corman, in exchange for a license to use the title.[11][12][13]

Filming edit

The film was shot in various locations within Los Angeles and parts of southern California, from July to October 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). 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.[14]

Before filming, both Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez did not have driver's licenses, so they took driving lessons during production.[14][12] 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.[citation needed] During filming, 78 cars were wrecked both on and off-screen, of which 3 cars were shown being destroyed in the film's trailer alone.[15]

Music edit

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.

Release edit

The Fast and the Furious premiered at the Mann Village Theatre in Los Angeles on June 18, 2001.[16] It was then released to theaters in the United States on June 22, 2001.

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 $18.65 million in video store rental revenue in its first week, a record at the time. It was later surpassed by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.[18] More than 5.5 million home video units were sold by April 2002.[19] 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.[20]

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 is not going to be that simple, Brian tells her that he has time. This ending was released in the collection bundle DVD version.

Merchandising edit

Racing Champions released diecast metal replicas of the film's cars in different scales from 1/18 to 1/64.[21] RadioShack sold ZipZaps micro RC versions of the cars in 2002.[22] 1/24 scale plastic model kits of the hero cars were manufactured by AMT Ertl.[23]

A video game was planned for a release in 2003 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox by Vivendi Universal.[24] Two other video games were released in 2004: a mobile game and an arcade game both titled The Fast and the Furious.[25][26] The arcade game was ported to the Wii as Cruis'n in 2007.[27]

Reception edit

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.[28] 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.[29] 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.[2]

Critical response edit

On Rotten Tomatoes, The Fast and the Furious has an approval rating of 54% based on 156 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."[30] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 58 out of 100 based on 29 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[31] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[32]

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."[33] 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."[34] 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."[35] 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.[36]

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."[37] 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."[38] 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."[39] 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.[40]

Accolades edit

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

Sequel edit

The film shattered box office expectations and a sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, was green-lit immediately. Diesel and Cohen declined to return for the sequel, opting to develop the film XXX (2002), which starred Diesel in the lead role. To account for these changes, Universal commissioned the writers to create a standalone sequel with Walker in the lead and brought in John Singleton as the new director.[6][5]

References edit

  1. ^ a b "The Fast and the Furious". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d "The Fast and the Furious". Box Office Mojo.
  3. ^ a b "The Fast and the Furious". British Film Institute. London. Archived from the original on February 8, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
  4. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Vin Diesel: 7 Things You Don't Know About Me". Variety. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Kaufman, Amy (April 6, 2015). "How Paul Walker nearly quit the 'Furious' franchise". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Zakarin, Jordan (March 26, 2015). "Meet the Writer Who Made 'The Fast and the Furious' Possible". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  7. ^ "'Fast and Furious' Survived Because It's About Empowerment". May 4, 2021. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
  8. ^ a b "The remarkable evolution of the Fast and Furious movie franchise". April 3, 2015.
  9. ^ "Timothy Olyphant explains why he turned down Vin Diesel's role in 'Fast and Furious'". March 29, 2018.
  10. ^ Ross, Robyn (April 12, 2017). "Vin Diesel Almost Wasn't Dom in 'The Fast & the Furious'". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  11. ^ Franich, Darren. "Fast & Furious' producer on the first film: 'We were the little movie nobody really cared about.", May 25, 2016. Retrieved: September 25, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Lawrence, Derek (May 3, 2021). "'F---, let's go do it': An oral history of 'The Fast and the Furious'". Retrieved July 17, 2023.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ a b "Fast and the Furious, The : Production Notes". Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  15. ^ Gibbs, Jamie (April 12, 2017). "How many cars has the Fast and Furious franchise destroyed?". Archived from the original on June 19, 2017. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  16. ^ "Cast members Jordana Brewster, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and..." Getty Images. Retrieved August 27, 2023.
  17. ^ "DVD Sales are Fast and Furious". January 8, 2002. Archived from the original on January 22, 2002. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  18. ^ "'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  
  19. ^ Wagner, Holly (April 24, 2002). "Universal Burns Rubber With 'The Fast and the Furious'". Archived from the original on April 26, 2002. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  21. ^ "Racing Champions Ertl Company Press Release". Archived from the original on October 11, 2004.
  22. ^ "Micro RC Cars: Mods – RadioShack ZipZaps – These Zaps Zip From Radio Shack". Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  23. ^ "AMT Ertl – The Fast and the Furious". Archived from the original on November 2, 2004.
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  25. ^ Buchanan, Levi (June 22, 2004). "The Fast and the Furious". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved October 4, 2023.
  26. ^ "The Fast and the Furious™". Raw Thrills. Retrieved October 4, 2023.
  27. ^ Alex Navarro (December 12, 2007). "Cruis'n Review". GameSpot. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
  28. ^ Reese, Lori (June 25, 2001). "The Fast and the Furious beats Dolittle 2". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 25, 2022.
  29. ^ "Box Office: Audiences Eat Up American Pie 2". ABC News.
  30. ^ "The Fast and the Furious". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 17, 2023.
  31. ^ "The Fast and the Furious" – via
  32. ^ FAST AND THE FURIOUS, THE (2001) CinemaScore
  33. ^ McCarthy, Todd (June 21, 2001). "The Fast and the Furious". Variety. Archived from the original on September 14, 2012.
  34. ^ "Entertainment News – Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  35. ^ Pendleton, Reece (October 26, 1985). "The Fast and the Furious". Chicago Reader. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  36. ^ Hewitt, Chris (March 6, 2023). "With Fast X, The Fast Family Approaches The Finish Line". Empire. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  37. ^ " – Car hoods rev up in 'Fast and Furious'". Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  38. ^ "The Fast and the Furious". June 22, 2001. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  39. ^ The Washington Post – Fast Leaving Logic in the Dust
  40. ^ " – Review: 'Fast and Furious' runs on empty – June 22, 2001".

External links edit