The Fast and The Furious franchise has to be one of the few cinematic endeavors in which each subsequent film gets better and better. Sure, dumber and dumber too but dang! Justin Lin knows how to string together some serious vehicular slaughter. And when he added The Rock into that volatile mix of blood, bullets, & octane he hit upon something epically macho and utterly bro. This series is a goof. And I didn't start to pay attention until Mr. Johnson hopped on board, but as I've spent most of this past week prepping for Friday's Furious 6 release, I've found quite a bit of fun in the over-the-top absurdity of the Lin trilogy...soon to be quadrilogy! To celebrate this mondo gonzo action saga, here are my top five favorite moments of Road Rage!
5. Bonus Points (Death Race 2000): Set in the far flung future of 2000 AD, the American government and the world's religions have crashed into each other forming The Bipartisan Party. To keep the masses in line and glued to their television sets, The Party hosts an annual Transcontinental Road Race in which celebrity combatants like David Caradine's Frankenstein and Sylvester Stallone's Machine Gun Joe crash & smash their way to a gory finish line. As much fun as it is to watch these gladiators go up against each other, the real hateful blood lust commentary comes from the Bonus Round. Along the way if they hit innocent bystanders each driver is given a few extra points towards their victory. Special Bonuses are awarded to dead children & the elderly. Yes, before Grand Theft Auto there was Death Race 2000. A real sick puppy, but funny as heck if you're blessed with a dark heart.
4. Open Season on the L.A. Freeway (L.A. Story): Steve Martin's struggles in the land of weird are painful in their comedic attack, but no scene is as uncomfortable or as a accurate than the First Day of Spring in Los Angeles. Martin's wacky weatherman with delusions of grandeur finds himself trapped on the LA Freeway, and his petty arguments must take a break for gunplay. Thankfully he's got his revolver in the glove box and he can fend for himself as those around him discharge their hate upon his car. Damn funny, but real sick humor.
3. Popeye Doyle's Train Chase (The French Connection): You can't talk about car chases without talking about the granddaddy of them all. Gene Hackman's narcotics cop attempts to pursue a suspect after he's boarded the New York Subway. The Detective nearly kills half a dozen people as he rams his Pontiac through garbage dumps and takes to sidewalks. The brilliance is not the chase itself, but how it represents Doyle's reckless anger; all he has in life is the pursuit and it really doesn't matter what good or bad comes from it.
2. Stuntman Mike's Collision Course (Death Proof): As the second half of the ambitious Grindhouse, Death Proof is easily my least favorite entry in Quentin Tarantino's directorial canon (yes, that includes Four Rooms & that episode of CSI he helmed), but the one thing its got going for itself is that horrendous crackup at the center of the film. While terrorizing Rose McGowan in the passenger seat, Kurt Russel's Stuntman Mike drives his tricked out death machine right into oncoming traffic. His victim, the self centered Jungle Julia & her drunk cronies. Tires go through faces, legs are ripped from windows, glass cuts through throats. It is withoutadoubt the most graphic car crash ever put on screen. And it's essential viewing for driver's ed classes everywhere. Grisly, nasty stuff.
1. Mad Max's Decoy (The Road Warrior): You could easily snatch 6 or 7 great moments of road rage from this film or the original Mad Max, but the king daddy of tarmac warfare has to go to Lord Humungus' climactic tanker assault. It is a breakneck chase, with Max behind the wheel attempting to swerve villains off the road and jamming his shotgun in their faces when they get to close to the bucket. Director George Miller is a madman himself, putting his camera right up on the whiplashing action and at any moment the viewer feels like they too could plummet to their own road rashing death.