Urban Cinefile
"It was happening all the time, it hit my boots, it hit me, it hit the deck. ...And this was all in the studio "  -George Clooney on Mark Wahlberg's famous seasick barfing during the shoot of The Perfect Storm
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday February 20, 2019 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Street racing in LA. The gangs gather with their custom-souped speed machines to race for the adrenaline rush, respect and some genuinely hefty stakes. It’s fast, furious, illegal and sexually-charged. And Brian (Paul Walker) wants in. He loses his first race, but grabs an opportunity to win the respect of Dominic (Vin Diesel), king of the fast machine scene, and the affection of Dominic’s sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster). What neither Dominic nor Mia realise is that Brian is an undercover cop. A spate of truck hijackings has been linked to the street racing scene. Dominic’s arch rival Johnny Tran (Rick Yune) is a prime suspect in Brian’s eyes, but Brian’s superiors suspect that his feelings for Mia could be blinding him to the truth.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The title sounds like an afternoon soap . . .The Bold and The Beautiful, The Young and The Restless sort of thing. Teeneagers in angst. Actually, it’s not far off that, although it’s much better than the analogy suggests and much less insular. The film has two trajectories; the street racing machines and their adherents being the main thread, but to give it dynamic action status, a serial heist subplot is inserted to generate enough heat to make the characters do certain things – other than just drive around very fast in colourful machines with sexy lines.

The soundtrack and the editing are standout examples of collaborative filmmaking where everything works in a seamless whole. It’s aimed at people much younger than this critic, but it gave me a good time, too.

Anyway, director Rob Cohen is probably my age. In his commentary he tells how it was a 2am visit to his first illegal street race meet that made him ‘see the movie’ for the first time. That was early 2000. And very quickly, Cohen establishes an easy rapport with us as he talks the movie through. First up, he explains how the opening truck heist is really based on Stagecoach, the Western. The big truck is the stagecoach, and the black heist cars are the outlaws (in black) who hold it up. Now that he’s got our attention, we’re tuned in.

He’s smooth, informative, sometimes amusing in a wry, dry way, and always worth hearing. Doing these commentaries isn’t as easy as it seems – as you can tell from some DVDs. Cohen is all class. He covers all the bases, from the technical and money issues to the stunts (including how Vin Diesel broke a stuntman’s nose), to the cast and the story, gently guiding us deeper into the film. It’s a nicely balanced commentary, equally interesting for street racers and common pedestrian folk like me.

And as I kinda suspected, the 7 minute heist sequence at the start of the third act, is a homage to George Miller’s Mad Max 2 (Cohen refers to it as Road Warrior), and the scene of which he is the most proud. Stay on till the end for his remarks about the controversial ending.

Technically, the DVD is superb: image is as perfect as it gets, and the sound design gives all your speakers something to do for the entire length of the movie. It’s designed to be heard, so choose your viewing time with consideration for others – or else invite them in to share it.

The 18 minute Making of featurette is a short, fast, energised window into the world of the film’s subject and its makers. It’s as fast and furious as the film itself, edited for a market perceived as having short attention spans. It has the interview grabs and on set footage you’d expect, all fizzing with the ambient music of street car racing culture. It’s a decent insight, and director Rob Cohen – an oldie in this setting – adds his signature with remarks like ‘a director’s most important job is the tone of the film…’ (And take a look at the beads wrapped round his right wrist – on set and off.)

How many times do we get a featurette on editing? This welcome extra, while only 5 minutes, is a specially made item in which Rob Cohen explains how he and editor Peter Honess are trying to cut back a gruesome scene to qualify for a PG 13 rating. We could have had more of this, but even this gets a big brownie point. (Another detail of note: see how Cohen uses an old fashioned fountain pen and an old fashioned notebook to make notes while sitting in a high speed digital editing suite.)

And it’s a nice touch to include Kenneth Li’s artcile, Racer X, which triggered the idea for the movie. It begins: “Rafael Estevez leads a new generation of fearless young racers burning up New York’s streets and race tracks in their tricked out Japanese compacts. At dusk they take over the road. Roaring and buzzing like locusts, the swarm of asphalt-scraping Japanese cars with swooping rear wings and brightly coloured logos merges from the side street of Uptown Manhattan onto the traffic congested Henry Hudson Parkway….”

Published February 28, 2002

Email this article

You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia



CAST: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster


RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes (feature only)

Widescreen (2.35:1) 16x9 Dual Layer (RSDL ); Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround; DTS 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, Hindi

Commentary with Rob Cohen; The Making of featurette; Racer X – the article that inspired the movie; featurette on editing

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: February 27, 2002

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2019