Judge Clark Douglas is 2 slow and 2 calm to be a street racer.
Our reviews of The Fast And The Furious (published December 17th, 2001), The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (published October 23rd, 2006), The Fast And The Furious: Limited Edition (published March 30th, 2009), The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift: Limited Edition (published April 15th, 2009), 2 Fast 2 Furious: 2-Disc Limited Edition (published April 3rd, 2009), and Universal 100th Anniversary Collection (Blu-ray) (published November 26th, 2012) are also available.
Another film in the infamous The Fast and the Furious franchise is about to come out, featuring all the original cast members. What better time to release the previous three flicks on Blu-ray? So, is this new box set worth checking out?
Facts of the Case
In The Fast and the Furious, we're introduced to Brian (Paul Walker, Running Scared). Brian is an ambitious young man with a passion for cars, and he would love nothing better than to land a spot on the Los Angeles street racing scene. He also just so happens to be an undercover cop, and he's attempting to help the LAPD and the FBI figure out which street racing organization has been hijacking tractor trailers lately. To do that, he's going to need to get in the good graces of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel, The Pacifier), the local king of a major street racing organization. Toretto's primary rival is Johnny Tran (Rick Yune), the leader of a violent Asian gang. Which group is responsible for the violent crimes? What will Dominic do when he finds out that Brian is getting into a romantic relationship with his sister (Jordanna Brewster, Annapolis)? Can Brian prove his racing chops on the streets, and if so, can he convince Dominic and Johnny that he's not a cop?
At the beginning of 2 Fast 2 Furious, Brian is no longer a cop. He's been completely sucked in by the world of street racing, and gets his kicks by racing at night in his brand-new souped-up sports car. However, his lucky streak can only go on so long. The cops finally catch up with him, and they're threatening to lock him up and toss away the key. If he wants to get rid of the charges, he's going to have to assist the cops in catching a drug dealer who is heavily involved in the South Florida street racing scene. It's not a one-man job. Brian enlists the assistance of Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson, Four Brothers), a talented driver who has a long and troubled history with Brian. Can Brian and Roman put aside their differences and work together to clear their names and take down the bad guy?
The hero of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is Sean (Lucas Black, Slingblade), an irresponsible 17-year-old teen from Somewhere in the South, USA. Sean's irresponsible behavior leads to his being taken in by the police, who offer him the choice of jail time or time with his estranged military father (who happens to be living in Japan). Japan sounds okay, so off Sean goes, and listens to the usual "my house, my rules" talks just long enough to know he wants to ignore them. In no time, Sean is caught up in an entirely new world of racing, called "drifting." It's a nifty style of racing that helpfully involves a lot of tire-squealing and smoke, but if you want to know details, Google it, because I must move on. The best drifter in Tokyo is DK (Brain Tee), the nephew of a local yakuza boss (the legendary Sonny Chiba). Sean makes three new friends. The first is Han (Sung Kang), a generally nice guy with a lot of money which he is perfectly willing to spend on cars that Sean will destroy. The second is Neela (Nathalie Kelley), who happens to be DK's girlfriend, which is convienient for the plot, if not for Sean. Third is Twinkie (Bow Wow), who is basically the guy in every prison movie who can get you things, though he seems a little out of place probably because no one is in prison. Can Sean take down DK and become the new drifting champ?
Look, I could care less about slick street racing cars. I drive a Ford Taurus, and I can barely tell you the difference between a spark plug and a muffler. Even so, even a square such as myself can appreciate the giddy, shallow, superficial joy of the hardcore car porn known as The Fast and the Furious. The film is more or less indefensible from a purely artistic point of view. It's a fairly one-dimensional plot, loaded with clichés and logical problems. The performances aren't particularly good. I have no doubt that it has inspired quite a great deal of irresponsible behavior on the road. None of that really matters. What matters is that The Fast and the Furious delivers over 100 minutes of slick, polished, adrenaline-fueled chaos that will rock your home entertainment system. If you catch it when you're in the right mood, you'll have a blast. Otherwise, it's a complete waste of time.
Without question, the film sounds absolutely fantastic in hi-def. The audio track here is strong enough to elevate The Fast and the Furious as a showcase disc for your speaker system. The race sequences are thrilling and extremely dynamic, with aggressive and well-distributed sound giving your room reason to rattle and shake. It's noisy and potentially headache-inducing, but pristine. The film is a bit more hit-and-miss on the visual side of things. The bright cars really pop off the screen here during some of the scenes, and the level of detail during close-ups is very impressive. Even so, background detail during a few sequences is a little weak. You also get a bit of grain here, along with a surprising level of scratches and flecks during a few scenes (the party sequence about 30 minutes in is a good example). Black crush is a bit of an issue at times.
All of the extras that were included on the DVD and HD-DVD releases have been repeated here: a commentary with Rob Cohen, some deleted scenes, an 18-minute making-of featurette, a visual effects montage, a multiple camera angle stunt sequence, a featurette on editing the film to receive a PG-13 rating, some music videos, a featurette called "Tricking Out a Hot Import Car," a PSA on driving safely from Paul Walker, and a short film designed to lead in to 2 Fast 2 Furious. It's a pretty thorough batch of supplements, but this disc does indeed make an attempt to bring something new to the party. The Blu-ray "U-Control" feature mixes and matches bits of the featurettes and commentary to create a picture-in-picture supplemental experience, and also throws in a cute new feature that allows the viewer to keep track of the insurance damages to various cars as the film progresses. Two new featurettes are also thrown into the mix: a 4-minute featurette on Dom's car, and a 10-minute featurette on the history of street racing. A digital copy of the film is included, and the disc is D-Box enabled and equipped with BD-Live.
For some reason (one suspects money), director John Singleton chose to helm the second film in the franchise, 2 Fast 2 Furious. Singleton is just as gifted as Rob Cohen when it comes to putting together an entertaining action sequence, but the second film just seems to be missing the bare minimum of credibility required to allow most viewers to enjoy the flick. The villain's plan, which involves hiring street racers to smuggle drugs, is so completely lacking in common sense that it inspires derisive laughter. The performances are poor once again, but Tyrese's sheer lack of charisma makes one yearn for the basic competence of Vin Diesel. The film does actually manage to insert a bit of welcome humor on occasion, and Singleton seems to be taking the proceedings a lot less seriously than Cohen, but the raw adrenaline rush just isn't there.
The transfer here is a bit stronger than the one The Fast and the Furious received, particularly in the detail department. Background detail is nothing short of superb. Colors are vibrant once again, and blacks are very deep. Facial detail is strong, and thee are no scratches or flecks mucking up the image this time around. Audio is quite solid throughout. The race sequences sound strongest, as you might expect, though these lack the thrilling dynamism of the scenes from the first flick. This is a very good audio track that would pass with flying colors if only I hadn't heard it right after the audio track on The Fast and the Furious.
Once again, the disc includes all of the previously available extras: a commentary with John Singleton, a pop-up trivia track, a 10-minute making-of featurette, some completely insubstantial 2-minute cast interviews and car spotlights, some deleted scenes, a handful of brief featurettes on the stunts and action in the film, and the "Tricking Out a Hot Import Car" featurette that was also included on The Fast and the Furious. Okay, let's check out the new stuff. The disc offers the "U-Control" feature, which presents the usual picture-in-picture option and clocks the insurance damage on the cars as the film progresses. A quick featurette called "Fast Females" introduces us to the ladies of the franchise, and offers a sneak peek at the upcoming film. Once again: a digital copy, D-Box, and BD-Live.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is essentially a series of races strung together by a cheap plot (much like the previous two outings). So, how are the races? Sadly, they disappoint just as much as the rest of the film. They are incoherent and simply lack excitement. Maybe it's because they're poorly staged, but it's probably because we simply don't care about anyone in this movie. The final race on a mountainside generates a little excitement, and is nicely shot, but it ends much too quickly. Some who reviewed the film noted what a nice little tour of Tokyo this movie takes us on, but I assure you, this is not Tokyo. It's Tokyo as filtered through the fantasies of a 14-year-old boy. This is a city where police never try to stop cars that they're not sure they can catch. This is a city where mob bosses view drag racing as if it were some sort of noble Samurai tradition. This is a city where all the girls are models and there's nothing they would rather do than rub themselves all over you and your hot car. Aside from Sonny Chiba, who lends his marvelous presence to these dull proceedings, all the performances are beyond wooden. The action is flat. The cars aren't that great. Even a special cameo at the film's finish fails to generate any interest. The film was directed by Justin Lin, who surely must be one of the most disappointing Hollywood stories of recent years. He began his career with the smart, edgy Better Luck Tomorrow, a marvelous debut that he's never come close to matching.
The transfer is about on par with 2 Fast 2 Furious, perhaps even better. There's absolutely no evidence of grain to be found here, no flecks or scratches of any kind, no significant flaws whatsoever. The level of background and facial detail is quite impressive, if just a little shy of knockout status. Audio is dynamic throughout, with the race sequences once again providing a thrilling audio experience. Also like 2 Fast 2 Furious, the track loses interest during many of the quieter scenes. It should be noted that Brian Tyler's aggressive score is considerably better than the efforts turned by BT and David Arnold on the previous two installments, relying a little less heavily on dated synthesizer effects.
As with the previous two releases, we're looking at a repeat of all the old special features in addition to a couple of new ones. The old stuff: a commentary with director Justin Lin, some deleted scenes, brief featurettes (several on drifting, one on casting the film, one on the final race scene, and one on shooting in Japan), a music video, and an even more advanced and diverse U-Control feature that mixes and matches this material with older stuff. New stuff: "Making the Fast Franchise" (17 minutes), a very generic featurette about the series that includes a peek at the new film. There's also "Drift: A Sideways Craze," an hour-long documentary which offers a warning about the dangers of drifting before proceeding to extol the virtues of drifting. Still, it's informative and easily the most substantial of all the new supplements this set offers. The disc is D-box enabled, equipped with BD-Live, and a Digital copy of the film has been included.
The box set also throws in a $7.50 pass to see Fast and Furious in theatres, which will surely be a cool bonus for anyone who actually would purchase this set.
While I think the first film is the only one really worth a look, I can't imagine many people being terribly upset with this collection. If you're a fan of the franchise, this box set provides just enough incentive to warrant an upgrade from the original DVD releases. If you all ready own the HD-DVD discs, I'd recommend sticking with those for now.
The films themselves are guilty of failing to provide any substance
whatsoever, but this Blu-ray set is free to go.
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What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice, The Fast And The Furious
Perp Profile, The Fast And The Furious
Distinguishing Marks, The Fast And The Furious
Scales of Justice, 2 Fast 2 Furious
Perp Profile, 2 Fast 2 Furious
Distinguishing Marks, 2 Fast 2 Furious
Scales of Justice, The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift
Perp Profile, The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift
Distinguishing Marks, The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift
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