Your guide to the history of Fast and Furious

Your guide to the history of Fast and Furious

Fast cars and hot stars are a winning combination for the Fast and Furious franchise; they're back in cinemas with their most popular sequel yet

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Scene from "Furious 7": (from left) Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker and Chris Ludacris
Scene from "Furious 7": (from left) Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker and Chris Ludacris
Photo: AP

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Vin Diesel (left) face off with Jason Statham in "Furious 7"
Vin Diesel (left) face off with Jason Statham in "Furious 7"
Photo: Scott Garfield/Universal Pictures

It seems like everyone is going to see Furious 7. It broke US box-office records for the biggest April release ever when it took in US$143 million in its first weekend - experts think it could make US$1 billion.

Now that it's in Hong Kong, you and your friends might go see it, too. But, oh no! What if you haven't seen the first six movies? Won't you be totally lost?

Not to worry, we've got a guide to make sure you know what's been going on in this action-packed series. Here is the history of all things Fast and Furious:

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Photo: AP


Plot: An undercover FBI agent falls under the spell of the leader of a crew of street-racing thieves. If that sounds good, you should check out 90's cult film Point Break, which is almost the same but with surfboards instead of cars.

Cast: Vin Diesel as ex-con Dom Toretto, Jordana Brewster as his sister, Mia; and Paul Walker as Brian, the secret agent who loves them both. Plus Michelle Rodriguez as Dom's lady love Letty.

Memorable scenes: Dom schooling Brian after a too-close street race. ("You almost had me? You never had me! You never had your car.") The closing-scene drag race between Brian and Dom, filmed in bromantic slow-mo, as they narrowly miss getting smashed by a train; after which Brian sweetly hands over his keys to let Dom escape to Mexico.

Reception: Not bad for a movie that had no plans for a sequel: US$144.5 million in America, US$207 million worldwide. Critics were split on whether it was childish, or fun.

Lessons: Despite his mumblemouth and totally lifeless facial expressions, Diesel had an almost hypnotic appeal. Also, audiences really like fast cars.
 

Photo: AP


2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

Plot: Two old friends looking to clear their names team up to bring down a Miami drug lord through street racing. It's almost exactly like Will Smith's buddy-cop movie Bad Boys but with flashier cars.

Cast: Walker returned as Brian, now a disgraced former agent; but Diesel was replaced by Tyrese Gibson as ex-con Roman Pearce. Plus, a spectacularly afro'd Ludacris as an expert car mechanic, Cole Hauser as the bad guy and Eva Mendes as an undercover agent.

Memorable scenes: One car flying over another during a race, a car flying off the road and onto a yacht during a chase, and a crew of huge trucks rolling over police cruisers.

Reception: Meh. The sequel made less in the US than the first film. 

Lessons: Too many uses of the word "bro" in a single script. And it's just not the same without Vin.
 

Photo: Universal Pictures


The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Plot: A trouble-making kid named Sean gets sent to live with his dad in Japan where his new friends introduce him to drift racing. This one was more like a fifth generation Karate Kid sequel than anything to do with the previous FF films.

Cast: Except for one cameo, a completely new roster. Lucas Black as the expat teen, Bow Wow and Sung Kang as his racing buddies.

Memorable scenes: None. Just a lot of drift racing and teen angst ... until the very end, when Dom shows up to race Sean!

Reception: Bad. In the US, the film brought in less than half of the first movies. Critics didn't like it either.

Lessons: Bring back Dom, clearly.
 

Photo: AP


Fast & Furious (2009)

Plot: Two former enemies team up to avenge one of their own and take down a crime boss using their street racing skills. It's almost exactly like The Fast and the Furious, but with older actors and newer cars.

Cast: Phew - finally, a reunion for Walker, Diesel, Brewster and Rodriguez. Kang was carried over from Tokyo Drift and joined by newcomer Gal Gadot (who has since been cast as Wonder Woman).

Memorable scenes: The epic brawl after Dom blames Brian for Letty's death. Cars zipping through tunnels like crazed gerbils. The cliffhanger ending with Brian and Mia chasing a prison bus carrying Dom.

Reception: Critics viewed it as a cheap retread of the first - and audiences loved that, to the tune of US$363 million worldwide.

Lessons: If at first you don't succeed at making a sequel, just recreate exactly what worked before.
 

Photo: Universal Studios


Fast Five (2011)

Plot: A glamorous team of outlaws attempts to perform a near-impossible heist in Rio, Brazil, in search of money and retribution. It's almost exactly like the classic heist flick Ocean's Eleven, with flashier cars, big muscles, and tiny skirts.

Cast: This time they really did get the whole band back together: Diesel, Walker, Brewster, Kang and Gadot, plus Gibson and Ludacris (now a tech wiz, but whatever) from 2 Fast, as well as Tego Calderon and Don Omar from FF4. And they brought in Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Hobbs, an FBI agent who wants to arrest Dom and his team.

Memorable scenes: The fight scenes between Hobbs and Dom. The inevitable moment when Hobbs joins forces with the gang. Dom's many speeches about "family". The final chase - involving two turbo-charged cars dragging a huge safe (that doubles as a wrecking ball) through the streets of Rio.

Reception: Two thumbs up! Four stars! High fives all around. Critics finally got it. The movie has a 78 per cent fresh rating on the movie-rating site Rotten Tomatoes - and it made more than US$620 million worldwide.

Lessons: A franchise can benefit from shifting gears and even genres, abandoning the street-racing storyline for a heist. And no one minds if your action scenes don't respect the laws of physics, as long as they're crazy-inventive.
 

Photo: Universal Pictures


Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Plot: An FBI agent needs to track down a crime lord and turns to his favourite ragtag team of on-the-run convicts. It's almost exactly like Ocean's 13, except - well, you know the score.

Cast: The gang's all here, plus an unexpected special guest - and a baddie played by Brit Luke Evans.

Memorable scenes: Spoiler alert! It's Letty! (Gasp.) She's alive?! Yes, and she stays alive, thanks to Dom, as usual. There's also a thrilling final scene involving harpoons and cars chasing a massive aeroplane on what has to be the world's longest runway.

Reception: Nearly as many positive reviews as Fast 5, and even more money.

Lessons: It's all about family. You don't turn your back on family. Why are you fretting about the laws of physics? Family's the only thing that matters!

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
In seventh heaven

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