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About The Production
Rob Cohen, one of today's most versatile and adventurous directors - Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, HBO's The Rat Pack, The Skulls, Dragonheart, Daylight - digs in and tells a story like it is, and the import car street racing scene offered a story he couldn't resist.

"It's primal. It's precise. It's a world unto itself with rituals, language, rites of passage, heroes, villains and intense, gear-grinding drama," said Cohen, who witness the power and allure of this unique subculture at several late-nigh races on the industrial outskirts of Los Angeles. "It's a hobby and a lifestyle, dazzlingly multi-cultural, which has stretched from L.A. to the entire world via magazines, websites, slang and the innate human desire to test the limits." A character-driven action movie, The Fast and the Furious puts audiences in the drivers' seats of cars that look both familiar and completely extraordinary. In the new parlance, they are "Rice Rockets," alluding to their Asian roots - sub-compact imports mostly from Japan, occasionally from Germany, which are reassembled and souped up with artistic precision by devoted owners, who spend tens of thousands of dollars customizing the engines and detailing the bodies before taking them to the streets for midnight competitions that are sometimes outside the boundaries of the law.

"There's been so much written and spoken about the place of the automobile in the development of American culture," Cohen observed. "The car is a symbol of freedom and mobility. There's a point in life when you're totally dependent on your parents to move around. And then at 16, you finally get your license. From then on, you're free. And you never forget that the car gave you that freedom. "What we're doing with The Fast and the Furious, in a sense, is taking the western and re-creating it in a contemporary urban milieu," Cohen continued. "Our film deals with some of the most important themes of classic westerns - loyalty, betrayal, freedom. But instead of horses, we've got horsepower."

Cohen developed The Fast and the Furious with Neal H. Moritz, a producer with a built-in barometer for the interests of young audiences, as demonstrated by such films as Cruel Intensions and I Know What You Did Las Summer. Joining them was Doug Claybourne, who began his career with Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now and more recently handled the challenging logistics for The Mask of Zorro. After agreeing to shoot the movie in Los Angeles, the heart of the street racing scene and American car culture, the filmmakers plunged into their street research.

"The races give the kids something real to do with their time," said Claybourne, who checked out several midnight matches. "They really invest in their cars, which can keep them away from less savory aspects of street culture. All of their energy is put into their cars."

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