Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Fast and the Furious

Yesterday I caught the latest film in the worldwide hit Fast & Furious franchise, The Fate of the Furious. To get a little a little bit it in the right mindset for it, I went and watched the original 2001 film, The Fast and the Furious (trailer) a couple days prior. I own all of the films, but the second installment which I detest, and as luck would have it all but the last couple were still in my backlog. I may as well cover them all(minus 2Fast) for the blog, and I think I will try and knock out a couple of the earlier movies right away before revisiting the later films down the line. Additionally, since I always kind of embraced these films in a lighthearted ridiculous kind of way, I will be a little looser with my entries for these films and will run down my highlights from each film in a bulleted list kind of way.

-Quick plot synopsis for those unfamiliar with the first film: The late Paul Walker portrays undercover cop Brian Connor. There is a street car gang stealing hot ticket Apex DVD players from trucks, so Connor goes undercover and joins Dominic Torreto’s (Vin Diesel) gang that also consists of his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), his tough-as-nails girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) computer hacker whiz Jesse (Chad Lindberg) and lifetime meathead bro Vince (Matt Shulze).

-I vividly recall my sister treating me to this film at the theater for a graduation present since it hit theaters a Friday or two after I graduated way back in 2001! Initial memories of the film were that it seemed like the coolest thing ever with all the crazy special engine closeup/NOS turbo special effects and all the bedazzling of the street cars with neon and underglow.

-I also specifically remember thinking coming out of this thinking that Vin Diesel was the coolest dude ever with him having the silent, deadly charisma and perfect chilling delivery of classic lines such as “It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winnings’s winning!” and the quintessential “quarter mile at a time” speech of the film which transpired in my favorite scene in the picture. Those thoughts quickly changed when Diesel skipped out on the sequel in favor of duds like The Pacifier. I also recall Paul Walker’s BS wavy hair and as the ultimate cornball with his epic so-bad-its-good delivery of classic lines such as “I need two cans of NOS…tonight!” He gets much better in later films thankfully. This is also the only film series I can tolerate Michelle Rodriguez in since she goes on to play the same badass stereotype in all the other films she is in and is insufferable as a result. This was the first time I was exposed to her here however and she is the perfect complement to Vin Diesel’s character.

-Johnny Tran (Rick Yune) is the stereotypical Asian gangster for the film. He has history with the Toretto gang and it all comes to a head in the film’s last act after some deadly fallout after a race that transpires at the Race Wars event. He is actually a pretty compelling villain and one of my favorite antagonists from the series. Speaking of races, if you have not seen the earlier Fast films, than I have to be the one to break it to you that the earlier films primarily revolved around the underground street race scene and it was not until Fast Five when the films fully evolved into “best drivers in the world pulling off insanely unbelievable heists.”

-The truck heists were only a small backdrop to the street racing in the film, but the final truck heist scene features a lot of great stunt work and practical effects. Watching the extra feature interviews it was cool to see that a lot of the street racing and truck scenes were primarily shot with practical effects and very little CG work. Obviously that would flip with the latter films in the series.

-I got a good feeling the younger crowds are going to scoff at the soundtrack for this film, but for me this film hit during my coming of age years and thus a lot of it resonates with me still today. Reliving it does have a really good blend of (then) modern rap, hip/hop and metal. Fans of Ja Rule, Saliva and Limp Bizkit will not be disappointed! The SWAT montage scene being accompanied by Dope’s “Debonaire” is another favorite scene in the film of mine, which has a great culmination of Tran’s father giving the ever-dreaded “disappointed parent hand-slap of doom!”

-I forgot to mention I am reliving these films with a special commentary track. Giant Bomb is my favorite videogame website and they occasionally do movie commentaries. Longtime readers here may recall that is how I re-watched Rocky IV. Experiencing this film again with the Giant Bomb crew was an ideal experience for me, since they re-watched all seven films over the past few months leading up to F8. Host Alex Navarro is the well-versed lore-master of the Fast franchise and provides plenty of wisdom for casual Fast fan Vinny Carravella Fast-newbie Dan Ryckert. Dan bombards Alex with too many questions, but Alex wisely knows what to clue him into as the movie progresses. Also experiencing Dan state why he avoided the movies all these years only to make a complete 180 and end up loving this film about an hour in was very entertaining to listen in on. As always the GB guys are a riot and have plenty of wise cracks along the way that made rewatching this a lot of fun. If you want to give their commentary a listen then head here to download the track.

-The BluRay is jacked with a ton of extras. Most of them are carried over from the DVD release but there are a couple new HD extras too. Dom’s Charger is a quick four minute look at Dom’s ride and how they found that model for the film. Quarter Mile at a Time is a 10 minute-eye opener on the origins of drag/street racing and how it lead to NASCAR/F1 and modern street racing. That is all for new extras. There is a little over an hour worth of assorted extra features carried over. Of them I would suggest checking out the deleted scenes, as there are a few good ones that director Rob Cohen justified why they did not make the final cut. Making of Fast and Furious is a thorough breakdown of the cars, races and cast for the film and provides a lot of detail on what I referenced earlier on how the stunts were done. Make sure to check out the six minute short film, Turbo Charged Prelude which has no dialogue and is essentially Connor going rogue from the cops and travelling across the country to Miami to setup for the sequel, 2Fast, 2Furious. Finally, Rob Cohen is on hand for a solo director’s commentary, but as I previously mentioned I opted for the Giant Bomb commentary instead.

-I highly recommend watching the original film whether you have seen it or not. It was awesome experiencing it again and seeing how far the series has evolved over the past 16(!) years. Even if you prefer sticking with the newer films, if you are one to pay attention to all the nitty gritty details you will likely pick up on a few references and characters that stay dormant until the later movies that will give you a new look into their origins with the franchise. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, check out this incredible guide from The Ringer that ranks the Fast films along with several supplemental rankings of vital elements of the films such as “Best rapper cameos” and “Best Dom one-liners.” Very thorough, but is well worth your time to take in. Now if you pardon me, I am going to go off to a corner in my room and jam out to Saliva and Limp Bizkit.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Dirty Work
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Hercules: Reborn
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Take Me Home Tonight
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Days of Future Past

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