THE DVD OF the action film Fast Five rolled out this month, and it's good to see filmmaker Justin Lin making buttloads of money for Universal Pictures and the Fast and Furious franchise. Also good to see Universal and Lin, a Chinese American and UCLA Film School graduate, making money with a multicultural cast (Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson) that appeals to a global audience. As of October, Fast Five has hauled in more than $600 million in 40 countries, according to BoxOfficeMojo.
It's no coincidence that the Fast and Furious films were set in Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and America, and that the next movie will land in Europe. All of the little touches do not go unnoticed: The polyglot ethnic characters bonding as one crew and family . . . The casting of global reggaeton stars Don Omar and Tego Calderon . . . The action scenes in the real-life favela (Brazilian slum) away from Rio's glitzy tourist zone . . . The cool Asian dude Sung Kang getting the beautiful girl . . . Smart black entrepreneur Chris "Ludacris" Bridges launching an auto repair garage, rather than wasting his loot on bling.
Good, refreshing stuff. Some in Hollywood have come a long way from Fu Manchu and actors in yellowface. The media images from the Fast and Furious films will influence young viewers for the better, for years. In the meantime, Fast Five as an action flick was flat-out, non-stop, dead-on, high-speed fun to watch -- except for the souped-up Dodge Charger getting smashed like tinfoil. Ouch. Poor muscle car.
- Los Angeles Times, "Fast Five sequel: Justin Lin looks for franchise finish line" by Geoff Boucher.
- Associated Press, "Hollywood Tailoring Movies for Overseas Audiences" by Glenn Whipp.