Street Machine - - Contents -

RE­LEASED in 2001, The Fast & The

Fu­ri­ous not only kicked off an en­dur­ing and lu­cra­tive film fran­chise but inspired a whole gen­er­a­tion of car fa­nat­ics. While the fo­cus of later films in the fran­chise moved away from cars and more to­wards generic ac­tion, the im­pe­tus for this in­au­gu­ral out­ing came from a Vibe mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle from the late 90s ti­tled ‘Racer X’, which chron­i­cled the il­le­gal late-night street-rac­ing scene in New York City that was dom­i­nated by Japanese cars.

The film fol­lows un­der­cover cop Brian O’con­ner (Walker), tasked with in­fil­trat­ing Do­minic Toretto’s (Diesel) street-rac­ing gang to find out who is re­spon­si­ble for the multi-mil­lion-dol­lar truck hi­jack­ings in Los An­ge­les. O’con­ner at­tempts to win his way into the gang by rac­ing Toretto’s Mazda RX-7 in a street drag with a Mit­subishi Eclipse. To re­flect the cus­tomi­sa­tion trends of the time, the cars are plas­tered with stick­ers, bodyk­its and neon lights. De­spite los­ing the race – and his car – O’con­ner still man­ages to talk his way into the group.

Brian’s wrecked Eclipse gets re­placed by one of the most iconic cars from the fran­chise, a bright or­ange Toy­ota Supra. Its ap­pear­ance in this film is ar­guably what led to the Supra be­com­ing one of the cult icons of the Japanese car com­mu­nity, in­flu­enc­ing count­less young fans.

The rac­ing ac­tion continues at the Race Wars event at an aban­doned air­field, but things soon go sour dur­ing a truck hi­jack­ing by Dom’s crew, forc­ing Brian to re­veal his iden­tity.

The film then kicks up a gear with mul­ti­ple car chases through the streets of LA, with both the Supra and Dom’s Charger slid­ing and jump­ing their way through traf­fic. The two men fi­nally set­tle their dif­fer­ences in a drag race, with their cars hurtling to­wards an on­com­ing train – with ni­trous hits and down­shifts ga­lore, some­thing that’s be­come a sig­na­ture of the fran­chise.

Even if it is de­signed to ap­peal mainly to teenage boys on school hol­i­days, there’s plenty in The Fast

& The Fu­ri­ous for oth­ers to en­joy – par­tic­u­larly if you’re a revhead. The ba­sic-but-func­tional sto­ry­line is re­ally there to frame the rac­ing ac­tion, and it’s the lat­ter that makes the movie wor­thy of its rep­u­ta­tion as a clas­sic; it comes as no sur­prise that it has be­come a favourite amongst car fans. VER­DICT: 4/5 AL­THOUGH rid­dled with tech­ni­cal in­ac­cu­ra­cies (think ‘MOTEC’ ex­haust), The Fast & The Fu­ri­ous did for the US street-rac­ing scene what Amer­i­can

Graf­fiti did for hot rods in the 1970s: it created a whole new gen­er­a­tion of car nuts. The film’s mix of on- and off-street drags, il­le­gal deal­ings, explosions and high-oc­tane ten­sion cer­tainly de­liv­ers on the s prom­ise of its ti­tle.

COOL FLICK FACT: Do­minic’s RX-7 orig­i­nally had a rollcage, but it had to be re­moved to ac­com­mo­date Vin Diesel’s bulging physique.

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