The Fast and the Furious: Collector's Edition (2001)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action dts Trailer-Piano
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Rob Cohen (Director)
Featurette-Making Of
Notes-Racer X-The Article That Inspired The Movie
Featurette-Editing For The Motion Picture Association Of America
Multiple Angles-Final Stunt Sequence
Featurette-Interactive Special Effects
Storyboard Comparisons-2
Deleted Scenes-8 +/- Director's Commentary
Featurette-Visual Effects Montage
Music Video-Furious-Ja Rule featuring Vita and 01
Music Video-POV City Anthem-Caddillac Tah
Music Video-Click Click Boom-Saliva
Music Highlights
Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
DVD-ROM Extras
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 102:29
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (74:47) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Rob Cohen
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Vin Diesel
Paul Walker
Jordana Brewster
Matt Schulze
Michelle Rodriguez
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Brian Taylor


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Audio Commentary
Hindi
Smoking Yes, Mostly smoking tyres
Annoying Product Placement Yes, all over the cars and throughout movie
Action In or After Credits Yes, 30 second scene after end of credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Fast And The Furious is director Rob Cohen's third major feature film, after The Skulls and Daylight. Although he originally made his name directing TV series episodes (Miami Vice and Thirtysomething) he seems to have made the transition between the small screen and the silver screen with some mixed results (depending on your idea of quality of course). With The Fast And The Furious though, he's actually managed to take a little known subculture and create a bit of a gem in the rough with a fairly reasonable and watchable movie the result.

    The first thing you realise about this movie is that the plot is fairly thin, with some dubious subplots. Okay, so you must suspend your disbelief, but that's the nature of movie making these days it seems. The story was based around an article in a newspaper about illegal street drags which was extended into an entire movie. As you might expect, you can drive a hotted up car through some of the plot holes, but who cares? If you are into cars, music, good looking women, speed and some amazing special effects with a raucous soundtrack, forget the rest of this synopsis and grab the disc, as you won't be disappointed.

    The opening of the movie looks good. A truck, despatched with all sorts of loosely stacked goodies (DVDs and other electrical appliances) is hijacked in the opening few minutes by three Hondas (?) driven it seems by total lunatics. The stunt work is great, the believability a little less so. From this point on, you should be able to work out the entire plot. It took me all of about fifteen minutes to guess what was going on, so if you want to work it out, stop reading now and wait for the movie.

    Cut to Brian (Paul Weller), our hero (with a very spurious set of morals as you will discover) testing out his car in a parking lot and nearly losing it. Brian we find out works for a local auto spares and accessories store as a salesman/storeman. He also happens to like tuna fish sandwiches (no crust) and has begun hanging out at a shop owned by the local and uncrowned king of the illegal street drags, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel). Of course the fact that his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) works there and is a total babe is of minor consequence naturally.

    When Vince (Matt Schulze), one of Toretto's gang, who also has the hots for Mia arrives, there is a stand-up confrontation with Brian who is chased off with a warning. It's about this time you'll begin to get a feeling there is something going on here, especially when Brian drops into work and orders up a whole swag of NOS (Nitrous Oxide System, aka Nitro) for his car (at about $10k) without batting an eyelid and ends up that night at an illegal street drag challenging Toretto and a couple of other hotshots, betting his car in order to cover the $2000 side bet. For the next five or six minutes, just hang onto your socks and crank your system for one of the best surround sound experiences you are going to hear in a long time as the cars are let loose on a ten second ride that lasts over three minutes and is too short at that. Cohen and his CGI crew do a great job on this one.

    Anyway, after the race the police rock up to bust up the party and Toretto is their prime target. Barely escaping and dumping his car in a safe location, he's spotted by the police and aided by Brian who then are chased all over the city until ending up being 'escorted' by the Chinese connection lead by Johnny Tan (Rick Yune) to one of their factories under the threat of machine guns. After having his car totalled by machine gun fire from Tan and his cohorts, Brian and Dominic head back to town where Brian begins his relationship with Mia and he and Vince once again collide, but there is plenty more action to come, naturally.

    I've heard a few people say that CGI can't make a movie. Well, in this case it almost succeeds since where the dialogue and story development fail, you are copiously compensated with a driving soundtrack and some excellent stunt work plus CGI out the kazoo. This is one of those movies where you just have to sit back, crank it up and let it rip. This is no Citizen Kane but if you have the equipment, you are in for the ride of your life.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    As a general rule, more recent movies sport better transfers and this is absolutely no exception being one of the best transfers I've experienced in quite a while. Overall this would have been a reference disc in regards to video but it has just got enough little transfer glitches to miss out on the ultimate accolade.

    The original theatrical release had an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. This transfer is close enough at 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Superbly sharp is the only way to talk about this transfer. There is no edge enhancement at all and it really shows. The shadow detail is magnificent with bucketloads of background detail on show, even during the darker night shots. Grain is so minor that at 61:26 I noticed some slight grain in a stock shot which is the first time during the movie I even saw any! Forget low level noise, this is just one of the best transfers I've seen in a long time, in keeping with the excellence overall of the package.

    Brilliant colours dominate this movie, especially for the cars. A lot of the action takes place at night so there is a lot of delineation in the colour schemes. Overall, no complaints as everything looked totally realistic, even the CGI and matting was excellently integrated. There was no sign of bleed and saturation again was mostly confined to the cars, but they can handle it nicely. Skin tones were very natural.

    No MPEG artefacts were on notice here. Occasionally, some of the motion was jerky but that was inherent in the movie. There is a black mark towards the top left of the screen at 33:18 and some slight break-up at 38:15 on a radiator grille. There is also some slight shimmering at 54:45 on some window slats and during Race Wars some of the pan shots of the cars exhibit very slight aliasing, but only momentarily. Like I said at the start, a five star effort with only minor (and me being very picky) errors.

    I'd have been lost at times without the subtitles. I got lost in a lot of the street/racing talk and they were invaluable. Basically, the bottom eighth of the screen is where they live. They are presented in an easy to see font and they were very accurate for the most part with only the usual condensing for the sake of brevity.

    A bad layer change is probably the worst problem with this whole transfer. It occurs at 74:47 during Chapter 15 in a transition scene. A cut to reading a road map and a big change in audio marks the spot. In addition, there is a noticeable pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    I have rarely come across a better soundtrack since I bought my system and this disc is one that really makes it all worth while. There are two soundtracks on this disc dedicated to the movie and one to the audio commentary. All three are in English only. The usual Dolby Digital 5.1 track is here at 384 kilobits per second. There is also a vastly superior DTS 5.1 track at a bitrate of 768 kilobits per second and rounding it all out is the audio commentary at 192 kilobits per second in Dolby Digital 2.0. I watched the movie both in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS modes as well as listening to the audio commentary.

    The first thing to note is that the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is very good with a solid overall feel to it. There is a robust envelope developed from the surrounds and the subwoofer works constantly with the driving beat of the music. For those of you without a DTS decoder, this is an excellent soundtrack. The DTS soundtrack, on the other hand, was encoded at a slightly higher sound level (about +5db) but even after level matching you can tell the difference. The higher bitrate of the DTS track gives it substantially more bottom end with a real subterranean rumble that is constantly in play. The surrounds also thrive with a much sweeter sound and the envelope developed is much more robust. Comparing the two side-by-side, the DTS track wins out in my estimation but in either format this soundtrack is of reference quality.

    Neither the dialogue nor the audio sync were a problem.

    The music for this movie is an absolute winner. I consider this one of the best soundtracks I've heard in a long time and it never lets up. Most of the music is snippets from songs from various bands augmented by additional linking music from Brian Tyler. Music from bands such as Limp Bizkit, Santana, Ja Rule, Dope, Saliva and plenty of other hard core rock and rap bands are constantly on offer during the entire movie.

    The sounds of cars racing by at high speed, a pulsing beat from the music and every manner of special effects cut into the rears is a joy to listen to. The overall sound of this movie just encompasses you and adds layer upon layer until you are surrounded with a wall of sound during big chunks of the movie, especially any time there are cars racing (which makes up a decent slice of the movie).

    A driving beat is matched by a constantly active subwoofer, including some amazing subterranean rumblings when the cars are in full throaty roar that have to be felt to be believed. I can't remember a more stirring use of the .1 channel in a long time and this one is five star all the way.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

dts Trailer

    Piano

Menu Animation & Audio

    Excellent presentation on this front. The main menu simulates speeding through city streets with a driving techno beat. Loops occur about every 35 seconds.

Audio Commentary

    This is a commentary recorded whilst watching the movie. There is quite a lot of detail in director Rob Cohen's dissection of the movie and he is a fairly steady talker without being too animated. He attempts to explain some of his philosophy for the movie, the street talk (he actually uses a lot of terms like 'rice burner', 'blab scenes' and 'dope arse'). He details camera angles, time framing, costuming, how he and the screenwriters expanded minor walk-ons into major parts and a plethora of other details. To be honest, this commentary makes more sense of the movie than the original dialogue and the movie's plot actually becomes apparent when he's talking. Some of the homages he pays to other directors and movies are interesting and this is worth a listen if you found the whole movie a bit shallow in plot terms (as I did).

Featurette-Making Of

    This featurette has a running time of 18:04 and presented in 1.33:1 Full Screen. It is broken into five notable sections     with various cast and crew talking about making the movie, the idea behind the movie, the symbolism in the movie, the cars as stars and some inside information on the stunts and how they worked. Interesting without being overly informative.

Notes

    Actually this is approximately 28 pages reprinting the original article that inspired the movie. Reading it in such a fragmented format was actually quite tedious but at least you know where the movie derived from.

Featurette

    At 4:37 and in 1.33:1 Full Frame, this was actually quite interesting. In order to allow for a wider audience, Rob Cohen sits down with one of the editors and edits one of the scenes (with the truck at the end) and tones it down to comply with the MPAA PG13 standards.

Multiple Angles

    Firstly, I have to say that the music in this extra gets annoying as it is a small loop endlessly repeated. The page shows off 8 cameras filming the same scene from multiple views with whichever is highlighted displaying the actual footage in a small loop. A full size version can be seen by selecting a camera angle. A final, compiled version is also available so you can see the end result (as if you hadn't seen it enough times during the movie naturally).

Featurette

    Nominally titled 'Movie Magic Interactive Special Effects' what it does is take the final crash stunt and show how it was derived using multiple angles/perspectives and compositing them together with overlays. The three layers used were;
  1. Train Point of View - Racing the Train
  2. composed of Composite (0:13) and Train Engineers Plate (0:13)
  3. Front Angle Cars
  4. composed of Train Plate (0:17), Car Plate (0:19) and Composite (0:18)
  5. Side Angle Cars
  6. composed of Train Plate (0:18), Car Plate (0:12) and Composite (0:13)
    The ultimate effect is to show a stunt involving a near collision with a train that never actually happened but looks real.

Storyboard Comparisons

    Interesting idea. They take 2 scenes, the opening drag race and the final crash stunt and storyboard them below shots from the movie. The first comparison, the street drag, lasts 4:14 and encompasses some 117 storyboard layouts. The second is the final crash stunt at 2:36 with 108 layouts. The excerpts are letterboxed above the actual storyboard for easy comparison. Nicely done and it's easy to see how they conceptualised the scenes.

Deleted Scenes

    These are all in Full Frame 1.33:1 letterboxed at 2.35:1 and not 16x9 enhanced Rob Cohen opens the menu with a little spiel about editing the movie for about 1:10. If you miss this little gem just exit and re-enter the menu. The deleted scenes can be viewed with or without directors commentary and are as follows:    As an added bonus, all deleted scenes come with subtitles!

Featurette

    Visual Effects Montage. With a running time of 3:45, this little snippet cuts the actual footage from the opening race sequence and breaks it down showing details such as computer generated modelling, storyboarding, blue matté sequences, and time-coded photography all spliced together to give the viewer an idea of how a shot actually evolves and the processes involved. Again, nicely put together and something different. 2.35:1 and not 16x9 enhanced.

Music Video

    All 3 music videos sport similar features. They are all presented in Full Frame format with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192kb/s.

    2.35:1 letterboxed, not 16x9 format. This is the title track Furious by Ja Rule featuring Vita and 01. With a running time of 4:09, this includes excerpts from the movie. Clean and very watchable, if you are into rap music.

Music Video

    Another rap track, this time called POV City Anthem by Cadillac Tah with all swear words muted making this very annoying to watch/listen to. Letterboxed in 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced with a running time of 4:16.

Music Video

    Click Click Boom by Saliva running 3:59 and straight 4x3/Full Frame. Like the other two, very clean both aurally and visually.

Music Highlights

    This addition was an absolute bonus for me and a real pleasure to find on the disc. If you've ever watched movies and read the credits you'll notice lots of songs that appear listed but you have no idea a) where they occurred in the movie or b) which tracks are which songs because they often only last a couple of seconds or simply don't get enough volume to really be made out. Well, they've solved all that for us with this feature. These are the sections of the film where each track occurs, as well as the actual track so you can put a name to a sound. Since these are excerpts from the movie they are all in 2.35:1 and 16x9 enhanced:

Production Notes

    14 pages. Pretty standard stuff.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    Featuring details on Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong, Matt Schulze, Ja Rule, Ted Levine and Rob Cohen.

Theatrical Trailer

    With a running time of 1:38 this is in 1.33:1 Full Frame format with excerpts in 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced letterboxed. Very clean with no notable problems to report.

DVD-ROM Extras

    The first thing to note about the DVD-ROM extras is that they will try and install their own InterActual DVD player. The problem is I already have my own player, but you cannot access these features without loading this software and that is annoying. The second warning is that the installation sequence also wants to send information across the internet. Personally, I am opposed to this sort of thing, but thankfully you can abort this by deselecting all the options in the setup menu.

    Next, the read me file mentions that you need a P2/AMD 400MHz or better/64Mb RAM/Windows+IE4/SP2. When you finally load the software you get a different menu and new animation. There is a musical overlay which can be changed to any of 5 different tracks from the movie. Problem is they loop about every 20 seconds and get tiring very fast. Fortunately, you can turn them off. The centre panel contains 4 cars which you can mouse-over and get details on. To the right is a picture of Vin Diesel saying 'lets go for a little ride'. All of this is in Javascript from the looks of it. If you get any script errors loading you'll probably need to update IE. A game called Street Racer can be played from the menu. You have a choice of 4 cars and you can do a little dragging if you please. Fairly primitive, but if you expect Grand Turismo 3 or something, buy a Playstation2! Finally, there are interactive links to Universal's web site if you wish to avoid typing.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    From the looks of it, both the Region 1 and Region 4 discs look precisely the same. Therefore, it would be buyer's choice on your preferred purchase.

Summary

    The Fast And The Furious does not have the most fulfilling of stories but this is one disc that has everything else. Yes, the characters tend to be a bit too good looking and the cars are really the heros, but who cares - this is a rocket-ride worth the trip.

    The video is exceptionally good with little to detract from it.

    The audio is beyond good. It is highly aggressive and a five star treat for those of you with high quality equipment. A definite purchase on this front alone.

    Apart from chock-a-block 2 disc editions, this has the best set of extras I've ever seen. Worth buying the disc for these alone and in keeping with a great DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Carl Berry (read my bio)
Wednesday, February 13, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderRotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationRotel RB 985 MkII
SpeakersJBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer

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