The Fast and the Furious is a 2001 action film starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker and the first film of the The Fast and the Furious series, with the start of a new trilogy. Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) is an undercover cop who must stop hijackers led by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) from stealing expensive electronics equipment off of Semi's. Brian goes undercover and gets involved and becomes good friends with Dominic and crew and is left with a choice of duty or friendship. In 2003, it was followed by the sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious.
The film opens at a dockyard where a container is loaded onto the trailer of a semi truck. The truck then departs the dockyard and one of the dock workers makes a phone call to an anonymous party on the other end, informing them on how to identify the truck. After sunset, the truck is traveling down a highway when three identical black Honda Civic Coupes with green neons approach it rapidly from behind. As they get close to the truck, they go in an aggressive formation, one in front, one on the right and the third taking up the left. The leading Civic's moonroof opens and a hijacker with a motocross helmet emerges with a modified crossbow rigged with a grappling wire. He fires through the left side of the truck's windshield and removes the pane of glass, then fires a second shot into the passenger seat, securing himself to the truck. He then leaps from the Civic to the semi and enters the cab where the truck driver tries to fight off the hijacker with a baseball bat. The hijacker then fires a tranquilizer dart into the driver's arm, subduing him and thus commandeering the truck.
The next day, Brian O'Conner is in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium with his Mitsubishi Eclipse performing a test run. He manages to run a test quarter-mile in which he reaches a maximum speed of 140 mph and subsequently nearly loses control of his vehicle. Frustrated, he departs the stadium. Following his trial run, he arrives at a small grocery store/mechanic shop in his work truck, a Ford F-150 Lightning, and takes a seat at the counter inside and orders a tuna fish sandwich. While his food is being prepared, he takes notice of Dominic Toretto in the back. As Brian eats his lunch, a team of import street racers arrive at the shop, all friends of Dominic and Mia's—the shop's proprietors. Vince is aggravated that Brian is still coming around the store and instigates a fight with Brian, which Dominic is forced to break up. Dominic warns Brian not to come around the store again and scolds Vince for starting the fight.
Brian returns to his job at a local performance parts store called "The Racers Edge," where he also rents a room in the back. He tells the store's owner that he needs a Nitrous system for his Eclipse and that he'll need it installed by that night.
After sunset, a large group of street racers begins to form in a back alley with Brian eventually arriving. One of the legends, Hector, takes notice of Brian's car and approaches him, followed by Edwin who also noticed Brians car. As the three converse, Dominic and his team arrive and the festivities set to begin. Dominic organizes a single race for the evening with $2,000 buy-in to participate. Brian expresses that he does not have the cash to buy into the race but that he'll offer the pink slip to his Eclipse. After Dominic's best mechanic, Jesse, inspects Brian's car, the other participants agree to Brian taking part in the race and the alley empties as everyone leaves for the road.
Everyone arrives at a four lane road where Dominic, Brian, Edwin and a fourth racer line up side-by-side for a quarter mile winner-take-all event. Leon, one of Dominic's entourage, monitors the police scanner for any signs that their illegal activity has drawn the LAPD's attention. With the coast clear, Hector initiates the race. Brian begins with a rough start but eventually catches up with the pack. Approximately halfway through the race, he engages his nitrous system and passes everyone except Dominic then near the end of the race he engages the nitrous again. After engaging the nitrous a second time, the floorboard falls out and causes him to pass Dominic, seeing Brian's Eclipse surpass him. Dominic engages his own hidden nitrous system on his Mazda RX-7 and soundly beats Brian as the race nears the finish line. Brian's Ecplise then screeches to a complete stop due to excessive over-revving of the engine. The race then is finished and the victor is acknowledged. Leon then intercepts a dispatch for the LAPD to go after the street racers. Leon then informs Hector and the group disperses.
Dominic, his team and Brian manage to get away in time with Dominic stashing his RX-7 in a nearby parking garage and attempting to escape the rest of the way on foot. However, an LAPD patrol unit recognizes Dominic and commands him to stop. Dominic runs down an alley with the officer closing in, Brian then intercepts Dominic and orders him to get into his car after which he outruns the officer and whisks Dominic away to safety. However, due to excessive Nitrous use, Brian's Eclipse suffers extensive damage to it's intake manifold due to too large of a nitrous shot. Just then, a group of bikers come and the leader, Johnny Tran, then commands Brian and Dominic to follow them. The two then inadvertently end up in Little Saigon which is Tran's territory and escorted to an abandoned parking lot. After they arrive at the lot, Brian and Dominic are confronted by Tran and his cousin Lance, with Tran inquiring why Dominic had disregarded their truce to stay off each other's turf. Dominic attributed the mishap to Brian, his "new mechanic," getting lost. After Tran and Lance admire Brian's car, their gang departs—with Tran and Lance immediately returning and opening fire with submachine guns, igniting the nitrous tanks, blowing up the vehicle. Brian and Dominic subsequently depart on foot. The two share a taxi back to Dominic's house where Brian says farewell to Dominic, but as Dom is about to step inside his house, where an after party is going on, he invites Brian to join it.
Brian is not well received by Dominic's team, with Vince asking Dom why he brought the "buster" to the party, and Dominic replying that it was the "buster" that kept him out of handcuffs. Dominic leaves up stairs with his girlfriend Letty, and tensions mount when Brian is left alone with Vince, Leon and Jesse. However, Mia interrupts and pulls Brian away from the trio to join her for a drink in the kitchen. She points out to Brian that her brother Dominic likes him and that it is unusual.
The following day, Brian is pulled over by an unmarked police car and "arrested." The car arrives at a residence where Brian is then removed from the car and his handcuffs are removed, revealing that his "arrest was a ruse" incase he was being watched, thus revealing that Brian is in fact an undercover police officer. The house he was brought to is, according to Sergeant Tanner, a former home of Elizabeth Taylor bought for her by Eddie Fisher in the 1950s, and has now been repurposed for a base of operations by an LAPD/FBI task force. Brian is brought into deliver intelligence he had gathered to Tanner and Special Agent Bilkins of the FBI. He expresses that he doesn't have anything yet but that he needs more time, which Bilkin informs him that they're in short supply of.
The next day, Brian returns to Dominic's shop with a tow truck dropping off a totaled Toyota Supra. Dominic and his team laugh at the car, failing to recognize it's potential until Dominic pops the hood and notices that most of the parts under the hood are in good shape. Brian, Dominic and his team set to work restoring the vehicle and preparing it for Race Wars, a large-scale legal street racing event where Dominic expects Brian to repay the debt from the original race.
In the meantime, Brian and Mia form a closer bond until it culminates in Mia asking Brian out (partially to upset Vince and partially out of her own interest). Prior to the date, Dominic takes Brian aside and drives him to his house where he reveals in the garage a pristine 1970 Dodge Charger. Dominic educates Brian on the cars back story, saying that his dad used to race and that it was a source of father-son bonding for them. However one day a driver named Kenny Linder had clipped his father's bumper during a race and caused his dad to crash into a wall at 120 mph, which caused the fuel tanks to rupture and his father to burn to death. Dominic says the next time he saw Linder he had a 3/4" torque wrench in his hand and he hit him once, he continued to hit him—though he didn't mean to—until he couldn't lift his arms when he was done. Dominic was subsequently banned for life from the race tracks and Linder could never drive again.
That night, Brian and Mia go out on their date and discuss themselves, Dominic and the team, then they take a late night drive to the beach, followed by returning to where Brian was staying in the back room of his work. As the two are sleeping together Brian's cell phone rings, Sgt. Tanner was covertly contacting Brian to inform him that the truck hijackers had struck again and that Bilkins had made a decision to move on Johnny Tran and his crew as the best possible suspects in the investigation. Brian gives his consent and hangs up.
The next day, the LAPD and FBI simultaneously serve arrest warrants on Tran, Lance and the rest of his crew for the hijackings of the semi trucks. However, after the arrest, it was proved that Tran and his crew were not the perpetrators of the crime, as all of the electronic equipment they had was purchased legally. This result led to the conclusion by Bilkins, Tanner and Brian that the perpetrator is in fact Dominic and his crew.
Following the bust on Tran, Brian and Dominic are set to test the newly completed Supra. They take it down the Pacific Coast Highway where they race it against a Ferrari F355 Spyder, the Supra soundly beating it. Immediately after the race, Brian pulls into the parking lot of a crab shack on the beach where he and Dominic eat lunch and discuss business. Brian, with time against him now, becomes more aggressive towards Dominic, inquiring as to how Dom makes all of his money—because he surely does not earn it all from selling groceries and doing tune-ups. Dominic glances at Brian and then hands him a slip of paper with directions on it to Race Wars, informing him that they'll talk afterwards.
At Race Wars, Brian arrives with the team already there. After being there only a short time, he finds Jesse about to race Tran for pink slips, despite Jesse's Volkswagen Jetta being severely outmatched by Tran's Honda S2000. Jesse engages Tran anyway, with his amateur status becoming evident when he engages his nitrous system prematurely. Thinking he has the lead he let his guard down, when Johnny engages his nitrous and viciously pulls past Jesse for the win. In a state of panic, Jesse promptly departs from Race Wars. Tran drives up to where Dominic and his team are hanging out, and provokes Dom by demanding that he fetch his car from Jesse. Dominic denies the provocation initially, until Tran informs hims about the police raid and then accuses him of being the snitch that caused it. Dominic whirls around and punches Tran in the jaw, knocking him down, then climbs on top of him and repeatedly beats the biker until he is pulled off by two Race Wars security officers.
Later, that night, Brian goes looking for Mia and peeks through the window in her trailer to see her arguing outside with Dominic. Following the argument, Dom and the team depart and Mia returns upset. Brian aggressively inquires why she is upset and where the team is going until he reveals to her that he is a cop and that Dominic and the team could be in trouble, hoping to convince her to help.
Brian and Mia leave Race Wars in his Supra in pursuit of the team. Brian calls a police operator identifying himself as an officer and asks for assistance tracing Dominic's cell phone in hopes of intercepting them before they hijack another truck.
The team arrives to a remote site outside of Thermal, California, where the Honda Civic's were being stashed and prepares them for the job. They depart the site and head down a small two-lane highway after a semi truck. The team takes up the same formation as in the beginning of the film, only this time after Vince leaps onto the truck, he is met with multiple shotgun blasts in his direction by the truck driver. The team tries to improvise a rescue but to no avail and after multiple attempts, Vince winds up tangled in his own grappling wire on the side of the truck pinned against an exhaust pipe.
The truck driver manages to disable both Letty and Dominic's cars, with seemingly no hope for Vince, Brian arrives on the scene with Mia and they perform a daring rescue as the truck driver reloaded his shotgun—Brian narrowly missing being shot in the head. After Leon retrieved Letty and then Dominic, the three catch up with Brian and Mia who have taken Vince out of the car and out into the field as they try to dress his wounds. Forced with an unappealing ultimatum, Brian blows his cover open in Dominic's presence by calling for an medivac to save Vince's life. Dominic is enraged at Brian's deception, but before he can respond, he returns to the car with Mia and the four depart back to the city as the paramedics loads Vince into a helicopter.
Brian returns soon after to confront Dominic, just as the street racer is leaving to track down Jesse. Dominic is armed with a shotgun and Brian tries to order him to drop the weapon. Mia attempts to interfere, but Dominic tells her to avoid into the argument. As Brian and Dominic are arguing, Jesse returns to Dom's house, apologizing profusely for his mistakes. As Jesse explains the situation, Brian and Dominic both hear dirt bikes approaching in the distance and then see Tran and Lance rapidly approaching with suppressed submachine guns. They open fire in a drive-by-shooting on Dominic's house, narrowly missing Dom but killing Jesse.
Brian fires off a couple of rounds on the two bikers, then jumps in the Supra and races after them while Mia and Dominic mourns over Jesse's dead body. In a fit of rage, Dominic gets into the Dodge Charger and pursues Tran and Lance as well. Brian stays close behind Tran and Lance, until Lance maneuvers himself behind Brian hoping for a killshot. Just in time, Dominic emerges in the Charger, swinging the rear-right quarter panel around causing Lance to collide and launch off a steep incline on the side of the road, his impact effectively and fatally injuring him. Brian stays in hot pursuit of Tran until they reach and overpass where Brian swings his car around and opens fire on Tran, striking him twice in the hip and abdomen, causing him to tip over and collide into a curb and crash, killing him.
As Brian checks Tran's body, he sees Dominic waiting for him at the top of the hill. Brian yells to someone to call 911 and rushes to his car and chases after Dominic where he finds him at a red light. As Brian pulls up, Dominic tells Brian that he used to race at the spot during high school, and that the railroad crossing ahead of them marks a quarter mile from where they are at the traffic light. When the light turned green, Dominic launched off the line, causing the Charger to wheelie for several feet before setting down on the ground. Brian barely managed to keep up with the Charger's raw power, however after engaging his nitrous he closed the gap between them. The railroad crossing guards descended as a train was on approach, yet the two continues their race—now racing against a train.
Brian engaged a second shot of nitrous to keep up with the Charger and hopefully beat the train. The race edged closer until the two launched across the railroad tracks, narrowly missing the train. With the race seemingly over, the two breathed a sigh of relief. Dominic looked ahead only to see a semi truck starting to pull out from a side street, causing his Charger to launch off of the front end and barrel roll over Brian's Supra, crashing on the street in front of Brian and flipping multiple times before coming to a rest. Brian slammed the brakes and ran to Dominic's side, with Dominic informing Brian that "that's not what he had in mind" for a race. Fortunately the Charger's roll cage had spared him worse injury. Dominic crawled out of the Chargers wreckage, with emergency services and police approaching the scene of the crash. Brian looked at Dominic with a sense of understanding and offered up the keys to the Supra acknowledging that he owed Dominic a ten-second-car from the first race. Dominic nodded and took the Supra keys, departing before the police could reach them, Brian turned to face the oncoming LAPD.
Following the end credits, a bright sun is shining over a bright blue ocean. Dominic is shown in Baja, Mexico driving a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS, repeating the famous line from earlier in the movie."I live my life a quarter mile at a time. For those ten seconds or less, I'm free..." Dominic then drives into the sunset.
An alternate ending, named "More than Furious" was released on the Blu-Ray bundle for all five movies from 'The Fast and the Furious' to 'Fast Five'.
In the ending, Brian had resigned from the LAPD, then Tanner drops him off at the empty house in Echo Park. Brian goes to the garage to see Mia packing up, informing him that she's moving away. Brian then tells her about his resignation from LAPD and that he wants another chance. Mia says it won't be that easy, to which Brian remarks: "I've got time."
- Paul Walker as Brian O'Connor
- Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
- Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
- Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
- Chad Lindberg as Jesse
- Johnny Strong as Leon
- Matt Schulze as Vince
- Rick Yune as Johnny Tran
The title rights (but not the story rights) of the 1955 film The Fast and the Furious were purchased so that the title could be used on this project, another film about racing.
According to an interview found on the original DVD release, Cohen was inspired to make this film after reading a Vibe magazine article about street racing in New York City and watching an actual illegal street race at night in Los Angeles.
The film was shot in various locations within Los Angeles and parts of Southern California. Key locations included Dodger Stadium (on the opening scene where Brian tests his Eclipse on the parking lot), Angelino Heights, Silver Lake and Echo Park (the neighborhoods around Toretto's home), as well as Little Saigon (where Tran destroys the Eclipse) and the San Bernardino International Airport (the venue for Race Wars, which attracted over 1,500 import car owners and enthusiasts). The entire last rig heist scene was filmed along Domenigoni Parkway on the South side of San Jacinto/Hemet in the San Jacinto Valley in California near Diamond Valley Lake.
Prior to filming, both Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez did not have driver's licenses, so they took driving lessons during production.
In one scene at Toretto's home, the gang is seen watching Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, another film directed by Cohen.
For the climactic race scene between Brian and Toretto, separate shots of both cars crossing the railroad and the train crossing the street were filmed, then composited together to give the illusion of the train narrowly missing the cars. A long steel rod was used as a ramp for Toretto's car to crash through the semi-truck and fly in mid-air.
The Fast and the Furious was released on DVD on January 2, 2002. A second print known as the "Tricked Out Edition", released on June 3, 2003, featured Turbo-Charged Prelude, a short film that set the tone to the film's sequel. An abridged version of the short film is also on the DVD of that sequel.
The film was released on HD DVD along with 2 Fast 2 Furious on September 26, 2006, along with The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift on DVD, and on Blu-ray disc on July 28, 2009 along with Fast & Furious on DVD and Blu-ray.
The Fast and the Furious was met with mixed reviews, with a score of 52% based on 145 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Todd McCarthy of Variety called the film "a gritty and gratifying cheap thrill, Rob Cohen's high-octane hot-car meller is a true rarity these days, a really good exploitationer, the sort of thing that would rule at drive-ins if they still existed." Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called it "an action picture that's surprising in the complexity of its key characters and portents of tragedy." Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today gave the film 21⁄2 out of 4 stars, saying that Cohen "at least knows how to keep matters moving and the action sequences exciting." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C, saying it "works hard to be exciting, but the movie scarcely lives up to its title." Rita Kempley of The Washington Post gave the film a scathing review, calling it "Rebel Without a Cause without a cause. The Young and the Restless with gas fumes. The Quick and the Dead with skid marks." Paul Clinton of CNN wrote that Cohen "created a high-octane, rubber-burning extravaganza" but he criticized the film for "plot holes you could drive the proverbial truck through" and an idiotic ending.