The Lost and the Furious: Films that Tried (and Failed) to Ride the Fast & Furious Wave
Fast and Furious has its fair share of copycats—and these are the worst of the lot.
Over the past 20 years, the Fast and Furious industrial complex has found itself among the likes of Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, James Bond, and Jurassic Park as one of the most lucrative and popular movie franchises of all time. At nine films and counting, the worldwide box office tally is nearly six billion dollars. Six billion.
That’s quite the leap for a franchise that started in 2001 with a story about an undercover cop infiltrating a street racing crew to solve a string of truck hijackings. The cars were also true stars back then—no ride in the succeeding eight films made the same cultural impact as Brian's Supra and Dom's Charger. But even as the plots got wackier with the family taking on drug lords, international heists, and Bond-style supervillians, the movies have always delivered the high-velocity automotive action fans crave.
Naturally, its incredible financial success has spawned a number cheap rip-offs from other studios trying to cash in on its popularity. (Let's set aside the, shall we say, strong echoes of Point Break in the first F&F film for now, which was also based on a Vibe magazine article.) But what's interesting here is that the franchise's longevity means all those hangers-on have had to adapt their approach to its evolution over the last 20 years. Some are painfully earnest attempts at early-Aughts street cred. Others, crummy action flicks with nothing to back up the automotive set pieces. All are entirely forgettable.
So regardless of the approach, it seems "The Fast and Furious, but with X" remains a losing formula. The inherent laziness of that idea is why none of these knock-offs could ever hope to reach the same heights it has. But bless their hearts for trying.
Biker Boyz (2003)
- Budget: $24,000,000 (Est.)
- Box Office: $22,076,772 (U.S.) | $1,433,899 (International)
- Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%
- Telling Review: “It’s just an atrocious film, which sadly never becomes so bad it’s good. It takes itself far too seriously to be appreciated as car crash entertainment and so stays solidly on the wrong side of dire, making it officially the second-worst film that we at Wheels on Film have seen so far. Because while it’s bad, but it’s still a lot better than Driven.” - Nick Cowen and Hari Patience for The Telegraph
Rather than cars, Biker Boyz focuses on motorcycles, chronicling the life of underground street racing on two wheels. Love, death, family, and speed are all main themes of this movie that includes several relatively high-profile actors, including Laurence Fishburne, Terrence Howard, Djimon Hounsou, Kid Rock, Lisa Bonet, and Orlando Jones. Sadly, none of them made the movie memorable.
It turned out to be less dumb fun than spelling "Boys" with a Z would suggest, with a lot of forced drama that might entice a brooding teenager but never resonated with moviegoers or critics at large. Some younger readers might ask, “Was the Z really necessary?" Well, kidz, back in the 2000s, using a Z for an S, X instead of Ex, Y as an I, K for C and so on made everything Kool.
So yeah, it was. Unfortunately, the movie itself was not.
- Budget: $40,000,000 (Est.)
- Box Office: $21,215,059 (U.S.) | $25,331,338 (International)
- Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%
- Telling Review: “By the time Torque concludes with a chase so phony-looking that it might as well take place in Who Framed Roger Rabbit's Toontown, it's clear that the 2004 film year has nowhere to go but up.” - Keith Phipps for AV Club
This movie was produced by the same people behind Fast and Furious, hoping to deliver their own motorcycle-centric franchise of speed and stunts. Like Biker Boyz, it fell flat with more cliches, stilted acting, and a truly ridiculous plot.
Here's what $40 million gets you: a biker goes on the run after he’s framed for the murder of a gang leader’s brother. That’s it. It sounds like the last-ditch pitch of a desperate filmmaker to a movie studio that would end with “...you know, like The Fast and the Furious.” The movie features actors Martin Henderson and Ice Cube, and admittedly includes some pretty incredible stunt sequences. You even get the hero of the movie riding the MTT Y2K, a turbine-powered motorcycle that defies the laws of physics.
To be blunt, the movie is silly. But unlike the first F&F, you never get the sense Torque really intended to take itself seriously. I mean, Ice Cube’s character gets away with actually saying “F*ck the police.” And Dane Cook tries to act! Martin Henderson's character even uses Dominic Toretto's catchphrase, “I live my life a quarter-mile at a time,” which someone immediately responds with “That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard.”
Really, all you need to know is that two characters clash with their motorcycles as if they’re sword fighting. If that concept can't save a Fast and Furious ripoff, nothing can.
- Budget: $26,000,000 (Est.)
- Box Office: $6,881,022 (U.S.) | $1,386,357 (International)
- Rotten Tomatoes Score: 0% (Yes, really)
- Telling Review: “An idiotic action thriller, vanity project and testosterone-filled guilty pleasure whose sole purpose is to show off a fleet of million-dollar Ferraris and Lamborghinis belonging to fledgling movie mogul Daniel Sadek.” - Terry Lawson for Detroit Free Press
You’ve probably heard about the time comedian Eddie Griffin crashed a Ferrari Enzo during a promotional event for a movie. Redline was that movie. Want more? Redline was written and produced by a subprime mortgage lending mogul named Daniel Sadek right before the last recession, because of course it was. Many of Sadek's personal cars are in the movie, including the Enzo that Griffen crashed, and all of them had to be sold off before the demise of his company Quick Loan Funding in the 2008 financial crisis.
The peg here was to be Fast and Furious with exotics before Fast and Furious had exotics, so Redline is nominally a movie about racing supercars while high-rollers gambled ludicrous amounts on the outcomes. There's also a scene when night vision is used to get to Vegas in a hurry. The hero cars were real and sounded great, but the movie was awful.
The punchline to all this setup is that despite an semi-honest effort to make a car movie, the result is a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the worst-reviewed movies of all time. That may sound sad, but considering it was funded in large part with money Sadek made running a predatory loan scheme, the movie got what it deserved.
Street Racer (2008)
- Budget: $1,000,000 (Est.)
- Box Office: N/A (Straight to DVD)
- Rotten Tomatoes Score: 24% (Audience rating)
- Telling Review: “I cannot say anything good about this movie. This is by far the worst acting I have ever seen in a movie. And I saw many bad movies.” - IMDb viewer review
Some of these flicks are downright unwatchable, and this is one of them. An ex-racer, who served time in jail for crippling a young boy, is released and soon finds himself back into the world of street racing. (Ignore the German poster seen in the YouTube screengrab above—it's an American film.)
Produced by a company called The Asylum, which is best known for intentionally ridiculous films like Sharknado, Street Racer feels like a school project. Bonus points (not really) for the worst tagline on this list: "At 130 mph, you're never more alive...or closer to dead!" The acting is terrible, there are no exciting cars, and the writing shows no knowledge of car culture. Want an example? During one stand-off, the antagonist in a Honda S2000 says to the protagonist “I don’t race ricers” in reference to the main character’s BMW. What?
It’s about time someone reveals that Street Racer was the byproduct of teaching an AI to write a script after reading a few blog posts about Fast and Furious. Still, that wouldn't explain the awful cinematography that makes the "races" look like recreations made for a local news segment.
200 MPH (2011)
- Budget: Not available
- Box Office: N/A (Straight to DVD)
- Rotten Tomatoes Score: 15% (Audience rating)
- Telling Review: “200 MPH represents the worst of the worst, a truly terrible film that's cliché, dull, poorly written, miserably performed, and while not home to an excess of special effects, home to a few that are so miserable that they're a sore sight for already pained eyes. There may not be a film with worse acting on Blu-ray” - Martin Liebman for blu-ray.com
This straight-to-DVD movie is possibly the worst film of all time. There are moments in 200 MPH where the cars are replaced by 3D models that look worse than game graphics from the Playstation 1 era. Don't believe me? Skip to 2:10 in this clip and revel in the magic.
Some continuity gaffs are so bad that they break your brain, such as when a white Mazda RX-7 enters a garage and later leaves as a green Nissan Silvia. I'm sorry, what? One character calls this vehicle an “MX-7," while another goes with “MX-5.” It's still wrong, but at least they got a real car there. If this doesn't jar you, imagine a human-based drama where the actor playing a character is replaced with someone else in the middle of a scene and no one acknowledges that he's an entirely different person.
Worse yet, it was released three days before the debut of Fast Five, one of the most entertaining entries in the F&F franchise and the first to shift the action away from street racing to focus on global car capers. Fast Five also saw the addition of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a cast member, making it probably the most significant entry in the series since the first. Meanwhile, 200 MPH was straight trash.
- Budget: $18,000,000 (Est.)
- Box Office: $10,501,938 (U.S.) | $1,304,494 (International)
- Rotten Tomatoes Score: 2%
- Telling Review: “You've probably seen this movie before, watching a child play with his toy Hot Wheels cars after eating multiple bowls of sugary breakfast cereal.” - Peter Hartlaub for the San Francisco Chronicle
Starring Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, and Jon Voight, this movie was panned by critics and one of the bigger box office flops of 2013. It's hard to think of a duo that would fail to excite both dedicated car enthusiasts and most of the general public, but Hawke and Gomez are that rare pair. You're going to need more.
The film features a custom Shelby Super Snake Mustang, a kidnapped wife, a smart kid-hacker, a heist, and plenty of fast driving as a mysterious caller instructs a washed-up racecar driver to follow his instructions and pull off various crimes. It sounds more interesting than it is, if that's possible. There’s very little in the way of interesting character development, but plenty of eye-candy in tons and tons of car crashes.
To that end, 130 cars were wrecked in total for the movie, including 13 Shelbys. But by the time Getaway was released in 2013, we'd had our fill with six Fast and Furious movies, each one presenting ever-more-lovable characters to go along with those eye-popping car chase sequences and wild plot twists. Getaway had the chance to be original and flubbed it with its hyper pace and worthless story.
Need For Speed (2014)
- Budget: $66,000,000 (est.)
- Box Office: $43,577,636 (U.S.) | $159,700,000 (International)
- Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%
- Telling Review: “With five fewer tries, Need for Speed aims for F&F's level of goofy, fan-pleasing grandiosity while attempting the existential vengeance vibe of Drive. The resulting mishmash is as exciting as getting a tow from AAA and just as slow.” - Odie Henderson for RogerEbert.com
Need For Speed had perhaps the best chance to take on Fast and Furious, and the best box office numbers as a result. It came with the name recognition of a popular video game series, a very healthy budget, and a selection of recognizable stars. But everything beyond the cars was hackneyed and shallow to the point of making Vin Diesel's famed monologues about the importance of family seem Oscar-worthy.
In NFS, the main character is framed for killing his best friend in a street race and plans to take his revenge out on the real culprit by beating them in another street race, no matter how many people get wrapped up in the messy aftermath on public roads. How much sense does that make?
There are a ton of high-speed stunts, though, and the movie ends with what seemed to be a commercial for the 2015 Ford Mustang. Released in between F&F films number six and seven, Need for Speed proved to be popular with people seeking a quick fix, with overall box office numbers salvaged by a huge showing overseas. Its tepid performance in America seems to have slowed talk of an inevitable sequel, though it's still being discussed. It better be called Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, that's all I'm saying.
- Budget: $27,000,000 (est.)
- Box Office: $7,793 (U.S.) | $9,650,552 (International)
- Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%
- Telling Review: “Quite a few times in the plastic action splat called, “Overdrive,” characters say to their antagonists some variation of “You must think I’m stupid.” Sorry to break it to you, Overdrive but all of you is stupid.” - Robert Abele for the LA Times
You’d think being Clint Eastwood’s son would have someone counseling him to avoid a movie like Overdrive, but somehow Scott Eastwood landed in a film that managed to combine elements from Fast & Furious and Gone in 60 Seconds with absolutely none of the joy of either.
An international production with a solid budget, Overdrive has plenty of cool cars and almost nothing compelling or original to do with them. Stop us if you've heard this before: A rich crime lord forces two brothers to hijack a bunch of cool cars from his rich crime rival on a tight schedule. Action scenes. Explosions. Spectacle. And maybe some love!
By the time this movie was released in 2017, the F&F crew was well into the heist game, robbing trains, stealing bank vaults, and driving cars off skyscrapers. Overdrive, with its simplistic plot, brought nothing new to the table to enhance the genre. And we're not the only ones who feel that way—Eastwood later joined up with the Family as a budding CIA agent opposite Kurt Russell in The
Fate of the Furious.
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