ⓘ The Fast and the Furious (2001 film)

The Fast and the Furious (2001 film)

ⓘ The Fast and the Furious (2001 film)

The Fast and the Furious is a 2001 crime action adventure film directed by Rob Cohen and written by Gary Scott Thompson and David Ayer. It is the first installment in the Fast & Furious franchise and stars Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong, and Ted Levine. The Fast and the Furious follows Brian OConner, an undercover cop tasked with discovering the identities of a group of unknown automobile hijackers led by Dominic Toretto.

Development for The Fast and the Furious arose after Cohen read a Vibe magazine article in 1998 titled "Racer X", which detailed the illegal street racing circuit operating within New York City. After contacting producer Neal H. Moritz, Moritz was able to present the script to Universal Studios, who greenlit The Fast and the Furious in 2000. Walker was the first actor to sign onto the project, while Diesel initially had to be persuaded to participate in the film, accepting after proposing several script changes.

Principal photography began in Los Angeles in July 2000, with the majority of filming being done on location in Los Angeles and southern California, which ended in October 2000.

The Fast and the Furious was released in the United States on June 22, 2001. The film was a commercial success, grossing over $200 million worldwide. It received mixed reviews, with praise for Walker and Diesels performances, and the action sequences, but criticism aimed at the story and its ending It was later re-released on June 22, 2016, to commemorate the films fifteenth anniversary.

The Fast and the Furious soon launched a media franchise and a series of seven sequels, starting with 2 Fast 2 Furious in 2003.


1. Plot

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.

The following day, a joint Los Angeles Police Department LAPD and FBI task force sends LAPD officer Brian OConner undercover to locate the crew. He begins his investigation at Torettos Market, ordering his regular tuna on white, no crust, and flirting with its owner Mia, sister of infamous street racer Dominic Toretto, while Dominic ostensibly sits in the back office reading a newspaper. Dominics crew, Vince, Leon, Jesse, and his girlfriend Letty, arrives. Vince, who has a crush on Mia, starts a fight with Brian until Dominic intervenes.

That night, Brian brings a modified 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse to an illegal street race, hoping to find a lead on the heist crew. Dominic arrives in his Mazda RX-7 and initiates a drag race between himself, Brian and two other drivers. Lacking funds, Brian is forced to wager his car. Dominic wins the race after Brians car malfunctions, but the LAPD arrive before he can hand over his vehicle. Brian, in his car, helps Dominic escape, but they accidentally venture into the territory of Dominics old racing rival, gang leader Johnny Tran and his cousin Lance Nguyen, who destroy Brians vehicle. Later, Dominic reiterates that Brian still owes him a "10 second car". The two then walk back to Dominics house together, where an altercation between Vince, who is upset that Brian is at the house, and Dominic breaks out.

Brian brings a damaged 1994 Toyota Supra to Dominics 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 who demand an explanation. Brian convinces them that he is researching his opponents vehicles for the upcoming desert Race Wars. Together, the trio investigate Trans garage, discovering a large quantity of electronic goods.

Brian reports the discovery to his superiors and Tran and Lance are arrested. The raid fails however when the electronics are proved to have been purchased legally. 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 fathers Volkswagen Jetta against Tran in his Honda S2000, but flees with the car after he loses. Tran demands Dominic recover the vehicle, and accuses him of reporting him to the police. Enraged, Dominic beats up Tran.

Later that night, Brian witnesses Dominic and his crew leaving and realizes that 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. He is forced to reveal his identity to call in emergency medical care to save him. Dominic, Mia and the rest of the crew leave before the authorities can arrive.

Some time later, Brian arrives at Dominics house to apprehend him as he is reversing his fathers 1970 Dodge Charger R/T out of the garage. Jesse arrives, pleading for protection. Tran and Lance ride by on motorbikes and shoot Jesse for reneging on their bet. 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 the keys to his own car to Dominic, asserting that he still owes him a 10 second car. Dominic escapes 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.


2. Cast

  • Paul Walker as Brian OConner

An LAPD officer sent to infiltrate a crew of hijackers. Mias love interest.

  • Matt Schulze as Vince: A member of Dominics crew and his childhood friend. He harbors an unrequited love for Mia.
  • Johnny Strong as Leon: A member of Dominics crew
  • Chad Lindberg as Jesse: A member of Dominics crew. Highly intelligent with maths, algebra, and in computing, but he suffers from Attention deficit disorder.
  • Rick Yune as Johnny Tran: A Vietnamese gang leader and rival of Dominic.
  • Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto: Leader of the heist crew and a professional street racer. He was banned from professional racing after a violent retaliatory attack on the man who accidentally killed Dominics father.
  • Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz: A member of Dominics crew and his girlfriend.
  • Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto: Dominics sister and owner of the Toretto general store. Brians love interest.

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. 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 Dominic and Brian. Vyto Ruginis plays Harry, an informant and owner of The Racers Edge. Reggie Lee portrays Lance Nguyen, Trans cousin, and right-hand man. Neal H. Moritz and Rob Cohen both appear in cameos; Neal plays an unnamed driver of a black Ferrari F355 convertible who is given a challenge by Brian while Rob plays a pizza delivery man.


3.1. Production Development

Director Rob Cohen was inspired to make this film after reading a 1998 Vibe magazine article called "Racer X" about street racing in New York City and watching an actual illegal street race at night in Los Angeles. The films original title was Redline before it was changed to The Fast and the Furious. 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.

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 OConner. 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 years car-themed blockbuster Gone in 60 Seconds, declined the role. Moritz instead suggested Diesel, who had to be convinced to take the role even though he had only played supporting roles up to that point.


3.2. Production Filming

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 on the opening scene where Brian tests his Eclipse on the parking lot, Angelino Heights, Silver Lake and Echo Park the neighborhoods around Torettos 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 drivers 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 Torettos 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 home, 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 its not going to be that simple, Brian tells her that hes 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 films trailer alone.


3.3. Production Music

The films 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 BTs score.


4. Release

Box office

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 an international total of $62.750.000 bringing its worldwide total of $207.283.925 on a budget of $38 million.

Home media

The Fast and the Furious was released on DVD on January 2, 2002. More than 5.5 million units were sold by April 2002. A second DVD entitled the "Tricked Out Edition", released on June 3, 2003, featured The Turbo Charged Prelude for 2 Fast 2 Furious, a short film that set the tone to the films sequel. An abridged version of the short film is also on the sequels DVD release.


5.1. Reception Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a rating of 53% based on reviews from 147 critics and an average score of 5.4/10. 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 has score of 58 out of 100 based on reviews from 29 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+, on a scale from A to F.

Todd McCarthy of Variety called the film "a gritty and gratifying cheap thrill, Rob Cohens 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 thats surprising in the complexity of its key characters and portents of tragedy." Vin Diesels 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."

Other reviews were more mixed. Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today gave the film 2​ 1 ⁄ 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.


5.2. Reception Merchandising

Racing Champions released diecast metal replicas of the films 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.