What You Need to Know: Fast and Furious 1-4 (2001-2009)

We take a look back at the early days of the Fast and the Furious franchise, from the original movie to the sequel, + Tokyo Drift and more!

Last Updated on August 24, 2023

When Universal Pictures released The Fast and the Furious in the summer of 2001, no one could have predicted that it would give birth to a franchise that’s grossed over $7 billion worldwide. It’s a juggernaut that’s still got plenty of fuel in the tank, with Fast X making over $700 million worldwide (and counting) while other franchises struggle to keep up.

Here, we look back at the franchise’s early days, when the Fast Saga was still considered low-key, perhaps even low-rent by some, with the movies modestly budgeted and aimed mainly at the youth market. We take a look at the breakout success of The Fast and the Furious, which made stars of its two leads, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, overnight. This led to Diesel bailing on the second film, 2 Fast 2 Furious, which saw Walker’s Brian head to Miami for an adventure that would introduce Tyrese’s Roman and Ludacris’ Tej, plus the now retired Eva Mendes an agent who’s later revealed to be working with Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs. Next, both leads would sit out the spin-off, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, which would bring director Justin Lin into the fold, and center around Lucas Black’s Sean Boswell, who would eventually return to the franchise years later due to popular demand. Most notably, it introduced Sung Kang’s fan favourite, Han. Next up was Fast & Furious, which was a prelude to the bigger movies in the franchise, which would start with the next film, Fast Five.

In this video, we look back at the early films and try to figure out which ones hold up and which are best left as movies of their era. For newcomers to the franchise, are there any they can skip? Do the early Fast and Furious movies do a good job setting up the further adventures of the Fast Family? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.