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Fast and the Furious, The (Trilogy Boxset) Print E-mail
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
Image"The Fast and the Furious" trilogy is the ultimate boxset for car enthusiasts.  It blows "Days of Thunder" out of the water.  Unfortunately, as the films progress they get worse.  That trend doesn't bode well for the upcoming fourth installment of the film series.  However, as the future film looks to get back to its roots, it does stand a chance at success.

The first film is "The Fast and the Furious."  It was one of the most anticipated releases of 2001.  The film follows an undercover cop, Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) as he tries to bust the crew behind the highway truck robberies.  The primary suspects are Johnny Tran and his followers.  Unfortunately, O'Connor neglects to focus his energies on Toretto's crew.  O'Connor works for undercover at a supped-up car supply store.  After losing a race to Toretto (Vin Diesel) and a devastating run in with Tran, O'Connor owes a 10 second car to Toretto.  Once O'Connor saves Toretto from the police, he earns his good-graces.  O'Connor is now on the inside.  Of course he falls for Toretto's sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster).  O'Connor must break through to Toretto before time runs out and the truckers take matters into their own hands.  The film is action packed, with a couple rad car races.  However, just wait until the second film for more action. (3.5/5)

"2 Fast 2 Furious" debuted in 2003 and gave Eva Mendes one of her biggest career starting roles.  The film actually has a decent story.  It is perhaps the most memorable of the bunch.  Still, the film falls short of the engaging factor.  Director John Singleton just couldn't quite pull it off.  The second installment follows O'Connor after he was been let go from the police force due to his stunt at the end of the first film.  Once again though, the FBI recruits O'Connor to infiltrate a drug-money smuggler in Miami, Florida.  He in turn recruits his old childhood buddy, Roman (Tyrese Gibson).  Monica (Eva Mendes) is already undercover as the personal assistant of Carter, the smuggler (Cole Hauser).  This film contains much more interesting and choreographed street car races.  With a bit more polish this film could have passed the original. (2.5/5)

"The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" is by far the worst of the three films.  There is absolutely nothing to the story.  The only thing worth watching in this film is the incredible drifting car racing sequences.  None of the original characters carry over to this film, short of a brief Vin Diesel moment.  Sean (Lucas Black) is a high school southern boy that gets into trouble time and time again.  A race between him and a school jock with no brains results in a near-deadly crash with a ton of destruction.  Rich mommy and daddy get the jock out of trouble.  However, Sean is facing time.  An agreement is made, and Sean is sent to live with his father in Tokyo.  Sean now attends a school in which every word spoken is Japanese, which means he is going to learn a whole lot in school.  The rest of the storylines are all overused.  Sean falls for the one untouchable girl, Neela (Nathalie Kelley).  She is "owned" by D.K (Brian Tee), the nephew of the Tokyo mob boss.  (Ummm, how is it that a girl that was born of an Australian woman in Japan and raised by a Japanese family and yet still has an Australian accent?)  There really isn't much to say about this film.  Watch it for some amazing drifting.  Just don't try on the streets or mountain roads here. (1.5/5) Luckily as the film quality goes down, the video quality goes up.  The video quality remains the same as the previously released HD DVD version.

"The Fast and the Furious" has the worst quality of all three films.  The film suffers from vertical and horizontal banding in the blue sky.  Grain is consistent for the most part.  However, there are a few night sequences in which the film grain is immense.  There were also several occurrences of dust, dirt and scratches.  The printmaster was not in the best of shape.  The colors are stable and vibrant.  Skintones fluctuate a little, but are accurate for the most part.  There does not appear to be any edge enhancement or noise reduction.  Contrast runs a bit hot at times.  Black levels and shadow delineation are excellent, yielding a popping image.  The video is good, but only slightly above average. (3.5/5)

"2 Fast 2 Furious" has a much improved video transfer.  The details are much sharper, still suffering from softness here and there.  The black levels and shadow delineation remain excellent.  The contrast is much better, never resulting in blown out whites.  The colors are vibrant and bold providing a deep and rich image.  Note: colors are not accurate.  They have been boosted to yield a lush image.  The printmaster used for this transfer is in much better shape.  There were no remnants of dust and dirt or scratches.  Grain is virtually non-existent.  You won't be disappointed with this video transfer, despite the film quality. (4.5/5)

"The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" has a video transfer equal to that of the second film.  The colors here have been toned down to yield a more naturally vibrant image.  Details are substantial.  There is no compression or motion artifacting despite the fast paced cutting of the film.  Fleshtones some fluctuate, and overall may be a touch like fake looking.  The source is again pristine.  Black levels are deep and there was no evidence of crushing in the majorly dark sequences. (4.5/5)

The audio on all three Blu-ray discs have been upgraded to DTS-HD Master Audio tracks from the previous Dolby Digital Plus tracks on the HD DVD releases.

The audio track on "The Fast and the Furious" is a bit unique.  Throughout the film the rear channels are more active and present than the front channel.  You will feel like you are facing the wrong direction.  It is possible for that effect to work in films.  However, it does not succeed in this film.  The sound effects feel as if they were pulled from a stock car library.  All the car engines and drive-bys sounding as if they belonged on a race track and not on the street.  The panning is off.  The panned sound effects never match the on and off-screen movements.  Many times there are engine revs and other sounds present in the surrounds when there is no visual evidence that any car exists off-screen.  The sound design aside, the dialogue is clear and present.  You never have to struggle to hear it.  The LFE channel is present, but not nearly as much as the other two films. (4/5)

"2 Fast 2 Furious" has a much more solid audio track.  The rear channels are present throughout the film, but they are not overpowering.  The dialogue is crisp and clear.  The LFE channel gets a nice workout.  The car engine sound effects actually sound like street cars now.  The dynamics are not spectacular and the frequency range does not stretch very high.  The front and rear divergence is much more spot on.  There is a slight lack of clarity in individual sounds.  An excellent sound track, but still somewhat forgettable. (4.5/5)

"The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" contains a perfect audio track.  The dialogue remains solid.  The LFE channel is even more present, without being overpowering.  The rear channels have been chilled out a little bit, while still remaining completely engaging.  The immersive feeling is incredible.  Localization is also terrific.  Individual placement of sounds can easily be distinguished.  The three car chase toward the end of the film and the final mountain race sequences are certainly demo worthy.  This is an excellent audio track. (5/5)

The trilogy comes boxed in three Blu-ray cases and a cardboard box.  All the features from the HD DVD and DVD versions of the films have been ported over to the Blu-rays.  This release also contains some exclusive Blu-ray special features.

The first disc contains the first film in the trilogy.  There is an audio commentary with director Rob Cohen.  Universal has also included a picture-in-picture function for this commentary, allowing you to access video footage during the film and commentary playback.  The disc contains four original featurettes: "The Making of 'The Fast and the Furious,'" "Visual Effects," "The Multiple Camera Angle Stunt Sequence" and "Movie Magic."  New to the Blu-ray are "Dom's Charger with a Sneak Peek of the new 'Fast & Furious,'" "Quarter-Mile at a Time" and "'The Fast and the Furious' Video Mash-Up."  The latter two featurettes cover real street racing and provide music clips.  The disc also contains deleted scenes.

The second disc contains a director audio commentary with John Singleton.  This is an excellent commentary that supersedes the actual film by far.  For the first time ever, I recommend watching the film with this commentary track on, and not bother with just the movie.  The original featurettes on the disc include: "Inside '2 Fast 2 Furious,'" "Actor Driving School," "Tricking Out a Hot Import Car" as well as a few minor segments.  New to the Blu-ray are "Fast Females with a Sneak Peek of the new 'Fast & Furious'" and "Hollywood Impact."  The latter looks at the affect of the films in Hollywood.  The Blu-ray disc also contains "Animated Anecdotes," a pop-up trivia track, and a picture-in-picture track.  There are also some deleted scenes and a brief film that covers the time period between the first and second films.

The third disc contains a feature audio commentary with director Justin Lin.  This commentary bleeds production information like no other.  Original featurettes included on the Blu-ray are: "Drifting School," "The Real Drift King," "The Japanese Way," "Cast Cam" and "Trick Out to Drift."  The disc also contains some deleted scenes and a music video.  New to the Blu-ray are "Making of the Fast Franchise with a Sneak Peek of the new 'Fast & Furious'" and "Drift: a Sideways Case."  Also exclusive to the Blu-ray are a picture-in-picture track, storyboards and GPS, a feature that tracks the final sequence of the film.  "Custom-made Drifter allows you to design your own drifter.

All three discs also contain BD-Live functionality, MyScenes, U-Control functionality, theatrical trailers, D-Box motion control and Tech Specs.

This boxset also contains three discs, each with a Digital Copy of the corresponding film.

"The Fast and the Furious" trilogy is an action packed set.  However, the films decrease in quality.  Luckily the video and audio quality improve in quality as the series progresses.  You will definitely find some audio demo-worthy material.  The trilogy certainly does its job.  I now want to actually see the fourth installment of the film series, especially since all the original actors and actresses return to the screen.

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