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Introduction
Some films have sequel written all over them, so it was no great surprise that only two years after sleeper hit The Fast And The Furious, a sequel was playing out in cinemas worldwide. Released during the height of the summer blockbuster period, the bizarrely named 2 Fast 2 Furious held its own, even though one of the main stars refused to reprise his role in the sequel. Apparently Universal had commissioned two scripts, one with Vin Diesel and one without, so when the star refused to take part plan B was put into action. Being a huge fan of the original I approached the sequel hoping for more of the same, but sadly left the cinema feeling hugely disappointed. Now with this DVD release I have a chance to see if the movie impresses a second time around. Read on to find out.

2 Fast 2 Furious
Movie
Following his exploits in the original movie, Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) is now on the run from the LAPD who have stripped him of his badge, and still harbour thoughts of catching him. Brian has fled to Miami, but old habits die hard and he starts street racing again to earn money. It is during one of these races that Brian is caught by the Feds, who subsequently offer to wipe clear his criminal offences in return for some undercover work. Brian is drafted in to expose local drug baron Carter Verone (Cole Hauser), who is well known for his illegal activities in the Miami area, and requires two drivers to transport a package across town. Brian needs a partner for the job, so in steps Roman Pearce (Tyrese) who has been buddies with Brian for many years, and also has a healthy appetite for fast cars! However, the pair have not spoken for a while, and Roman has just been released from prison.

The duo take a while to patch up their differences, but it isn’t too long before they are getting into trouble together! Accepted by Verone to carry out the operation, the pair try to bend all the rules in order to fulfil their appetites for fast cars. Added in for good measures is undercover agent Monica Clemente (Eva Mendes), who has been working on the Verone case for a year pretending to be his girlfriend. Obviously there has to be some sort of love interest, and Brian finds himself being drawn to Monica which in turn brings unwanted attention from Verone. Will Brian and Roman keep their cover, or will their extravagant behaviour make Verone smell a copper?

So did my opinion of the movie change second time around? Well to some extent it did. My expectations were far lower this time around, so I ended up sitting back and accepting the movie for what it is, a silly but entertaining version of Gran Turismo on the playstation! It’s fair to say that the acting leaves a lot to be desired and the plot is wafer-thin, but there are enough car set pieces to ensure that the movie flows reasonably smoothly. Some of the stunts appeared unrealistic when I saw them in the cinema, but on the smaller screen they don’t seem so obvious and in your face, so that may have increased my enjoyment of this movie.  However, the end stunt still annoys me, defies belief and therefore in my opinion spoils an otherwise engaging end sequence.

2 Fast 2 Furious
So I suppose the next question is whether the movie suffers without the appearance of Vin Diesel, and that’s an easy question to answer. The definitive response is yes! Tyrese does his best to fill his shoes, but sadly Vin Diesel’s screen presence and charisma is never matched. For me this sequel never quite lives up to the standards set by the original movie, but even so it is still harmless fun and an entertaining way to spend a few hours. If you have seen the first movie you can expect more of the same. In a summer of poor movies, 2 Fast and 2 Furious is one of the better attractions!

Video
2 Fast 2 Furious is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is also anamorphically enhanced. What Universal have produced here is a transfer of sheer class, which only just falls short of reference quality. The colourful lifestyle of Miami is brought to the screen with acute accuracy, bright blue skies and aluminous cars are just some of the elements which are portrayed perfectly. Skin tones are spot on, while black levels are solid; as far as the colour palette is concerned, this aspect of the transfer rates as one of the best of the year. Details levels are also impressive, with a high level of definition evident throughout and sharpness is also good. The only real downfall here are edge enhancements which are evident during a large proportion of scenes. Grain levels are kept to a minimum, and for the most part are non-existent. Considering the lack of a DTS track (more about that later!) it is no great surprise that compression artifacts are nowhere to be seen.  Edge enhancements aside this is a high quality transfer.

Audio
Unsurprisingly Universal have only supplied the one soundtrack with this release. I say unsurprisingly because once you see the number of extras packaged with this release you will realise that any further tracks would have been added at the sacrifice of the transfer. The soundtrack in question is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which really does justice to the movie. The original movie had a pumping soundtrack (it also had a DTS track!), and the track on offer here is no different. A DTS track would have been nice, but what we get instead is an aggressive 5.1 track that will leave your neighbours wondering if they live next door to a race track! The surrounds are used at every opportunity, ensuring that each screech and rev of a car’s engine is portrayed affectively, leaving the viewing fully immersed in the movie. Subwoofer usage is also healthy, so turn it on, sit back and listen to the booms! The musical score is also effectively played out, and dialogue levels are clear throughout. This soundtrack doesn’t quite live up to the high standards set by its predecessor DVD, but it is not far off. I’ve no doubt that a DTS release will surface at some point, but for the time being the track provided with this disc is a nice start.

2 Fast 2 Furious
Extras
Universal have produced a menu system which will appeal to fans of this movie and car enthusiasts alike. The opening menu displays three of the cars from the movie and upon selecting one of the cars you are taken to another menu which allows you to play the film, select some non-specific extras, or select some extras which are unique to the chosen car. As I mentioned there are three cars that you can choose from and each car has three unique extras. The three unique extras are a  Spotlight on the actor who drove the car, an extra called The Ride, and another extra called Driving School - Sponsored by Mitsubishi Motors. Each spotlight extra focuses on the specific actor, where he/she gets to talk about the character they played.  The extra entitled The Ride focuses on the particular car and explains why they are so special, and should appeal to car fans as it goes into a reasonable amount of detail concerning each car. The Driving School extra, as it suggests, shows the actors fooling around in cars during a driving school.

The non-specific extras are housed together in one menu. The first extra is called Inside 2 Fast 2 Furious, which starts off by stating that this sequel is bigger, better and has faster cars! This behind the scenes documentary then moves onto focusing on the director and why he chose to get involved with the movie. It also covers each of the characters and the relevant actors talk about their role in the movie.  There is also a detailed section about the cars and how they were chosen for the movie. This documentary lasts for around ten minutes and briefly covers pretty much every aspect of the movie.  

Deleted Scenes are next up and have to be viewed as a continuous sequence. The scenes are introduced by one of the film’s editors and the director.  Each scene is shot in widescreen and has the running time at the top. Probably the most interesting scene is an opening sequence which shows Paul Walker's character asking why he wasn't arrested for his activities in the original movie. Each scene is introduced by the director, which sounds good, but he never really goes into enough detail about why the scenes were cut. Next up are Outtakes, which mostly involve Terese. There are around two minutes of outtakes in total and they make quite a funny collection of clips.

2 Fast 2 Furious
The next extra is mysteriously titled Tricking Out A Hot Import Car, and is preceded by a thirty second warning which says not to do anything that is shown in the following clips. This extra shows how a car can be built up from scratch and converted into a car suitable for the movie. Once again this extra is for car enthusiasts, who will probably love it and wish for more. This extra lasts for just over three minutes and it is fun to see how a car can be converted when money is no object. Stunts are the next aspect to be covered with an extra called Supercharged Stunts.  This extra starts off with some info from the director and the special effects team. Just a word of warning about this extra as it focuses on one of the main stunts from the final sequences. For this reason I would advise watching this extra after the movie. The stunt that is focused on is covered in good detail and makes for interesting viewing. This extra has a running time of just over five minutes.

Music fans should find the next extra worth watching, it is called Making Music With Ludacris and shows behind the scenes footage from Ludacris's video, and also goes into some detail about how the music came about for the soundtrack. I didn't think I would find this extra very interesting but it goes into a lot of detail, and is actually worth a quick look.  The next extra on this disc is called Animated Anecdotes, which is Universal's way of adding facts into the movie. If you choose to switch on this extra you can watch the film, and occasionally interesting facts are displayed on the screen relating to what is currently showing.  

Commentaries are becoming standard for most DVDs and this disc is no different. There is one commentary included with this release and it is from the director. From the outset he mentions that he wants to give as much detail as possible, and explain why he filmed things in a particular way. At every opportunity he gives shedloads of information, most of which is relevant. My favourite parts of this commentary include where the director talks about how he wanted to make the sequel different to the original, and also where he mentions that the main principles for the sequel  (and to some extent the original movie) are fast cars and pretty women! The final extra on this disc, which is found when you choose to play the movie is called Turbo-Charged prelude for 2 Fast 2 Furious. This extra tries to piece together the time between the two movies. It plays like a music video and does a surprisingly good job.  It lasts for around six minutes and focuses on the period of time between the two movies. This extra leads into the main movie itself.

Overall
The summer of 2003 will go down in history as a poor period for movies, the box office tills may have been ringing non-stop, but the standard of the movies was low. Bearing that in mind, 2 Fast and 2 Furious is a worthy sequel, which doesn’t take itself seriously and delivers in the entertainment stakes. It may not be as good as the original but who cares, it’s still unadulterated fun! As for the disc, Universal have provided a first class release which is only slightly let down by the lack of a DTS track. Whether or not that is enough to warrant a future release, only time will tell. Fast cars, pretty women, a first class DVD transfer and some wholesome extras, do I really need to justify purchasing this disc? All these elements should ensure that Universal have a bestseller on their hands this Christmas.


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