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September 25, 2011
Fast & Furious 5 Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
20/4/201123/8/2011UniversalJustin Lin
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MVin Diesel
Paul Walker
Dwayne Johnson

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Vin Diesel returns as Dom Toretto.

The Fast and Furious franchise is one which has millions of fans the world over. Fast cars, fast women, great action and a stellar cast has ensured that every new release has an instant following. Still it was a big surprise when earlier this year the fifth movie in the franchise, Fast & Furious 5 (or Fast Five depending where you live), has become the highest grossing movie in the entire franchise. So what's it all about then...

Former cop Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) partners with ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) on the opposite side of the law. Since Brian and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) broke Dom out of custody, they've blown across many borders to elude authorities. Now backed into a corner in Rio de Janeiro, they must pull one last job in order to gain their freedom. As they assemble their elite team of top racers, the unlikely allies know their only shot of getting out for good means confronting the corrupt businessman who wants them dead. But he's not the only one on their tail. Hard-nosed federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) never misses his target. When he is assigned to track down Dom and Brian, he and his strike team launch an all-out assault to capture them. But as his men tear through Brazil, Hobbs learns he can't separate the good guys from the bad. Now, he must rely on his instincts to corner his prey... before someone else runs them down first.

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Fast cars, fast women, it's Fast Five!
Now in its fifth movie this is a franchise that has stood the test of time, and with many returning stars, it was sure to get its fans. There is simply so much to enjoy in this film. While the film is set in Rio de Janeiro much was filmed in Puerto Rico but it's a great substitute and there is plenty to keep your eyes glued to the screen from a visual perspective with plenty of landmarks in Rio letting a good showing. The 130 minute runtime seems just spot on as it gives the ensemble cast and the characters plenty of screen time to develop while Dwayne Johnson is simply brilliant as Agent Hobbs. Indeed every time he appears on screen everything just sizzles and while it's a major risk for any actor to jump into a franchise so late his inclusion has been a major boost to a franchise that could have become stale.

Having said that while the fights between Dwayne and Vin's characters are brutal and highly entertaining it's the shift in focus for the franchise from street racing to a heist movie that had many questioning the minds at Universal, but it works superbly well and offers something completely fresh.

One final interesting note is that while the movie is tilted Fast & Furious 5 on the cover of the Australian packaging the encoding has the title Fast Five which was the same in cinemas here too (again, despite the marketing having the longer title).

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Dom and Brian prepare to jump of the car.
Fans of this franchise will certainly love this film which takes the franchise in a slightly new direction, but in doing so also keeps it fresh. A blast from start to finish (oh, and make sure you keep watching to the extra scene during the end credits)...

Fast Five is presented on Blu-Ray in the film’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and is presented in Blu-Ray's usual 1080p resolution. Being such a recent release in cinemas the transfer here is nigh on pristine with no dirt or scratches on the print and a natural colour palette. Lighting and contrast levels are good while the video has a great level of fine detail. Needless to say, this Blu-Ray would be a few setups up from the best that DVD can offer.

Needless to say with such an action-heavy film the audio doesn't disappoint. The Blu-Ray has been encoded with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (24-bit/48Khz) track that brings the movie to life with some great LFE use and more importantly aggressive use of the surround sound channels. Even during the more frantic scenes sound is prioritized perfectly so dialogue always remains clear.

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Of course hot women feature in Fast & Furious 5.
There is only one other audio track on this disc, an English Descriptive Video Service, which provides a description of what's taking place on-screen. This audio track is encoded in a rather disappointing Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192kbps which gets the job done, but why is it the blind miss out on the glorious surround sound effort? There is only a single English subtitle track and it seems to get the job done nicely enough.

We must point out that on the retail packaging for this disc it states there is Italian and Spanish audio, and subtitles in Italian, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish - this does not appear to be the case on the retail disc we reviewed.

Being such a recent, and major, release there are quite a few extras to get stuck into and while they are a little shorter then we hoped, there is some decent content here.

Filmmakers Commentary: We almost missed this as it's hidden away on the second page of the Extras, but this commentary from Justin Lin is quite an impressive effort with plenty of detail about the production of the film including discussion about the stunt work, creating sequels, filming in Brazil, and so much more.

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Dwayne Johnson is an impressive addition to F&F5.
Deleted Scenes (1:40/HD): Sadly there are only two scenes here and they add little to the feature film.

The Big Train Heist (7:37/HD): This featurette has plenty of on-set footage about how they filmed the train heist sequence including building the vehicle, setting up the train, and using real locations.

Reuniting the Team (4:59/HD): As the titles suggests this featurette looks at bring back many of the characters from the previous movies.

A New Set of Wheels (10:09/HD): This featurette looks at the cars used within the movie, how they were modified, and how the car manufacturers supported the movie.

Dom's Journey (4:55/HD): This brief clip looks at Dom's story through the franchise, and Vin's popularity, particularly in Brazil where they filmed this latest movie.

Brian O'Connor From Fed to Con (5:55/HD): This short clip looks at the change of Brian from a cop to a criminal and now working with Dom. There's also a look at how much of the stunt work Paul Walker actually performed for the film.

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Fast & Furious 5 is set in Rio.
Enter Federal Agent Hobbs (5:50/HD): This clip looks at the introduction of Dwayne Johnson as Agent Hobbs into the franchise. We have to say we loved him in this film, and this looks at how he was introduced into the film, and how Dwayne and Vin worked together on-set.

Dom Vs Hobbs (7:31/HD): This clip looks at the fight sequence between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson including plenty of on-set footage.

On Set with Director Justin Lin (8:36/HD): This featurette focuses on the director working on-set during a car sequence. Justin wants more aggression in the driving, but there are concerns about damaging the cars.

Inside the Vault Chase (9:20/HD): Probably the most interesting featurette this looks at all the stunt work that went into the vault chase sequence. Plenty of on-set footage, as well as a drivable vault!

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Another familiar face in Fast Five.
Tyrese TV (6:35/HD): Tyrese shows us around the set of the film and mucks around with the cast and crew.

U-Control (HD): Universal's U-Control makes an appearance on this disc with a Picture-in-Picture video segments which contain on-set footage and interviews, or the Scene Explorer where you can see scene being played as a Pre-Viz sequence, the Dailies, or on-set Behind the scenes footage. I still think this is a clunky interface, but still, there's some great behind the scenes footage here well worth your time.

Name me one other series where the fifth installment is not only the best in terms of story and entertainment, but also has a majority of the previous cast involved as well. This is a complete triumph, and a brilliant movie as well. An essential purchase for fans of the franchise while newcomers will have a great time too.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Universal. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.