After my previous posts about how I’m watching the Fast and Furious series, and also the differences and similarities between Point Break and The Fast and the Furious, I’m finally actually starting the series itself. My re-journey into the ‘Fast and Furiverse’ begins.

As I mentioned in a previous post, this was basically Paul Walker’s vehicle. The director, Rob Cohen, had approached him and asked him what sort of film he wanted to do. He said a mashup of Days of Thunder and Donnie Brasco. Hence The Fast and Furious was born (although I’m sure they called it ‘Point Break with cars’ in the pitch).

This is a great film. Some people don’t really like it, some say it’s just trying to be Point Break, and the fact is that this is a very different movie from what the series ends up being. But I like it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s a whole lot of fun, and it has some pretty strong characters. Here are my notes as I rewatched it.

  • It was great to hear a Live track in the first few minutes of the song. I had always remembered that song in the film but had never quite twigged that it was Live for some reason. Live are in my top 5 bands of all time, so it was surprising I hadn’t recognised it before.
  • One of the first things that Jesse says is, “Wow, he’s beautiful”. He’s not wrong. Paul Walker was a beautiful, beautiful man.
  • It’s some entrance by Dom. Low camera angles, muscle-bound physicality and Vin Diesel’s voice sounding incredibly low and gravelly. Almost inhumanly low.
  • Dom seems to have a problem with running. When he breaks up the first fight between Vince and Brian he just kind of speedwalks out of the cafe. And he does the same near the end of the film when he drives off in his black car after that thing happens on the lawn with Jesse. He does actually run when he is running from the cops after the street race, so perhaps he only does it when he really, really has too.
  • Brian’s a bit of a dick to his undercover boss, Harry. He’s messing with Harry’s business and doesn’t even apologise. He just tells Harry to relax and then immediately insists on getting more expensive tune ups to his car.
  • At the first street racing meetup we hear what I think is the only audible reference to Fast and Furious in what I assume is probably a Ja Rule song where he raps “Do it fast, do it furious”.
  • Brian manages to look cool even when he does pretty big blunders like driving too far over the start line and having to reverse back. He somehow gets away with it all.
  • Dom calls one of the blonde ‘skanks’ (Letty’s words) ‘Monika’. But then Ja Rule shouts ‘Monikaaa’ when he is losing the race because the girl who was talking to him was also called Monika. Is every girl at the street race called Monika? Is that a ‘moniker’ that they’re all given? 😉
  • The graphics in the game that the Asian guy plays on the start line slightly dates the film. I’m guessing it’s probably PS2 as the PS2 was released around the time the film was probably being filmed, but there’s a chance it’s actually only PS1 graphics. It’s pretty pixelated anyway.
  • The effect where the camera flies into Dom’s car and then out again during the race, is kind of cool but also just looks pretty dated. I can imagine it was incredibly cool at the time.
  • I kind of like when Brian looks like a little kid full of adrenalin when he loses the race. Breathing heavily and looking round not knowing what to do. Kind of shows that he’s a bit out of his depth but also that he’s absolutely loving it. A taster for where his priorities may soon lie.
  • I never quite get how Dom is ok when Brian owes him a 10 second car and then brings round a wreck that just happens to have a decent engine in it, but Dom’s happy to immediately spend $15k on it. Is the engine really that good? And he can tell right away that the engine is totally intact despite the rest of the car being a wreck?
  • I quite like Vince. He is a bit of a douchebag but he’s the only one who thought right from the start that Brian was a cop.
  • Vince’s string vests feel like a homage to Bennett from Commando! I like him even more for that.
  • Brian’s boss in the LAPD says “There’s all types of family Brian, and that’s a choice you’re going to have to make”. Quite interesting to hear that when you think ahead to everything that happens in the run up to Fast 7.
  • There’s something about the way that Dom punches Johnny Tran during Race Wars that I love. The camera angle and the follow through are perfect.
  • Brian telling Mia he’s a cop doesn’t really seem to have the weight that it should. He just suddenly mentions it and she seems pretty ok about it. It’s done cleverly when Brian reveals to Dom that he’s a cop. He does it whilst on the phone calling for a helicopter to save Vince’s life, so Dom can’t get angry and interrupt. Clever, Brian.
  • When they do their last truck robbery in the middle of Race Wars, they go out in the middle of the night but it seems to suddenly become daytime when the actual robbery happens. Were they driving all night? Were they just not going to sleep during Race Wars?
  • The whole bit with Vince getting caught on the front of the truck, and Brian standing on the side of the car to jump across to get him is pretty well done. That shot of Brian crouching on the side of the car is one of the iconic shots of the film for me.
  • When Brian hands Dom the keys at the end he hands them home in a really weird way. I really don’t know why. I guess to make them more visible on screen, but it just looks weird.
Above photos all from IMDB

I think the film still holds up reasonably well. The thing that ages it the most are some of the shots and effects. Things like the camera flying into and out of the car during a street race, or the noise that happens when they whip their heads round to see Johnny Tran about to kill Jesse (although I kind of love that), or the slow motion cross fade zoom when Dom and Brian realise the train is coming (not great). None of these have aged that well.

If you like this film I would whole heartedly recommend you listen to the episode about it on

The Rewatchables podcast. I’m on exactly the same page as those guys, as you will probably tell as some of my observations are exactly the same as their ones. I literally shouted ‘Yes!’ when I heard they thought that Vince looked like Bennett from Commando! I hadn’t spotted Brian’s weird key holding until I heard that podcast though, so that one goes out to them. Give it a listen. They’ve got some great insights.

I just watched the deleted scenes on YouTube. There are a couple of good scenes there that I wish they had kept in. The first one gives some good depth and insight into Mia and shows that she’s studying to be a doctor, and flags Brian’s sexism that he assumes she wants to be a nurse, although Brian doesn’t seem to register that what he said was bad. And there’s a scene where Vince yet again says that Brian is the narc. And not long before Brian is revealed to Dom to be a cop too.

I want to run down the main characters in each movie, so that I can keep track of who appears in which instalment of the franchise…

Main characters
Edwin (Ja Rule)
Sgt. Tanner
FBI Agent Bilkins
Johnny Tran

Most memorable scene
This one’s pretty tough because almost every scene is a memorable scene. Seriously. I can’t think of a boring section of this movie. Here are three contenders.

  • The first street race where Brian talks about respect and Dom gives his monologue about winning by an inch or a mile.
  • The drag race at the end where Dom just stops and waits for Brian and says how he used to race here because the distance to the train line is exactly one quarter mile. A poignant moment and even more exciting because they nearly get hit by the train. Nice when they land but then Dom immediately goes flying.
  • But the most memorable scene for me is when Dom shows Brian his ridiculously sized engine in his dad’s car, and even though he’s known Brian about four days he tells him all about his Dad and gives him the big speech about hearing his dad screaming as he burned alive but then being told that it was Dom screaming. He then says how he lives life a quarter mile at a time. A very open and honest moment from what the audience might have thought was just a muscle-bound petrol-head at that point. A great scene all round.

Best stunt
This one was quite tough. It’s either the scene with Brian standing on the side of the car and jumping onto the truck to save Vince, whilst Letty drives under the truck etc. Or it’s the final drag race where Dom and Brian jump past the train and then Dom’s car hits something and flies over Brian’s car upside down. That one is very well done and very realistic, but for me the Fast and Furious franchise is about crazy unrealistic stunts, so I’m going for the first one, where Brian stands on the edge of the car at 80mph and jumps onto the truck. That whole sequence is great.

Quote of the movie
Dom – “I live my life a quarter mile at a time”

That quote just sums up Dom and his whole philosophy for the series to come. Although I very nearly chose “You can have any brew you want, as long as it’s a Corona.”

Score – 8.5/10

Great film. Underrated by many. Very cool and entertaining with some iconic moments.

I’ll be ranking all the films as I go along. Obviously this one is no.1 so far.

Tune in soon when I will not be looking at 2 Fast 2 Furious yet, but instead will be looking at the Turbo-Charged Prelude short film.