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The Fast and the Furious
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Cast:Rob Cohen, Paul W. Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez

This supercharged melodrama was the year's undisputed sleeper hit for good reason. Edgy and stylish, The Fast and the Furious goes beyond the extremely limited parameters of youth-oriented action films and very nearly attains the mythic quality associated with the rugged westerns of John Ford and Howard Hawks. Teen-movie hunk Paul Walker, in his first leading role, plays a hotshot driver who joins a cultlike coterie of Los Angeles street racers and becomes the prot‚g‚ of local legend Dominic Torreto (Vin Diesel), whose posse rules the `hood. Their sleek, souped-up cars are fueled as much with testosterone as with gasoline, and violent clashes with rival gangs account for the film's non-racing action highlights. Rob Cohen, who previously directed Walker in The Skulls, deliberately and effectively contrasts the brash and enigmatic novice with his unsavory mentor, a thoroughgoing hoodlum who adheres rigidly to his own peculiar code of honor. With his shaved head, muscular physique, and deep bass voice, Diesel is quickly becoming the most imposing screen presence of his generation. He imbues Torreto with charisma to spare. With the less complex part, Walker displays a heretofore unsuspected star quality, and Jordana Brewster shines as Diesel's loyal sister. Occasionally improbable to the point of absurdity, The Fast and the Furious nonetheless succeeds in achieving a sort of surreal authenticity that makes it not only believable but genuinely gripping. The Collectors Edition DVD offers a commentary by Cohen in addition to deleted scenes, a making-of documentary, a montage of visual effects used to enhance the first racing sequence, an interactive segment showing the same car stunt from eight different angles, a featurette on the film's editing, storyboard-to-film comparisons, and several music videos Ed Hulse

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