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The Fast and the Furious: Collector's Edition

When the police think somebody in the world of underground street-racing is involved in a string of truck hijackings, LAPD undercover cop Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) gets his hands on a neon green street-racer and infiltrates the high-octane subculture. Chief suspect? Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), an ex-con with lots of extra cash and a hot ride, which means he regularly takes the biggest prizes on the asphalt field of battle. But for Paul to investigate Dom he has to gain his trust, which means joining his crew — and inadvertently falling for his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster). Is Dom the bad guy? Is a rival street-gang behind the hijackings? What will everybody do to Brian if they find out he's a cop? Do any of these questions matter? Er — no. Directed by Rob Cohen (The Skulls, Dragonheart), 2001's The Fast and the Furious is a brightly-lit thrill-ride that knows how to reach its core audience — give 'em lots of babes, thrills, stunts, and tricked-out Japanese cars to drool over, and a thin patina of plotting so the whole thing hangs together. Unfortunately, because of the emphasis on the hardware, movie fans who don't know the difference between nitrous oxide and a nosebleed might find several parts of Furious lacking — the story is a heavy retread of most "wayward undercover cop" templates (Donnie Brasco being a good version for grown-ups); Paul Walker is not a strong leading man, apparently having graduated from the Keanu School for Drama; and the conclusion of the film is a befuddled hodgepodge of awkward plotting and head-scratching moral exegesis. But where Furious works is where it's supposed to work. An opening drag-race is a skillful bit of digital trickery, while a truck hijacking towards the end features some awesome stunt driving by a trio of Honda Civics. And yet best of all is Diesel as the charismatic, enigmatic Dom — an actor with genuine talent and range, he puts a spark into some occasionally lifeless dialogue with a performance that has Movie Star written all over it like decals on a body-kit. Universal's The Fast and the Furious: Collector's Edition features a clean anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with audio in DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 (as well as French 2.0). Features include a commentary with director Rob Cohen; the behind-the-scenes "The Making of the Fast and the Furious"; the original magazine article that inspired the movie, "Racer X"; eight deleted scenes with commentary from Cohen; a multi-angle stunt sequence; a look at the special effects; a visual-effects montage; final editing for MPAA approval; a storyboard-to-film feature; three music videos; a music-highlights menu; and the theatrical trailer. Keep-case.

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