"Furious 7" bursting onto the big screen this 2 April!
While the "Fast & Furious" series mostly has intense car chases, high-flying stunts and sweet rides (among other things), the franchise also has never run out of story elements revolving around family to fuel the series that would be going into its seventh instalment.
So to bring you up to speed on what's been happening in the last six instalments in the series, we sat through the entire Fast & Furious franchise to give you a retrospect before you see Furious 7.
Be warned there will be major SPOILERS if you haven't been following the series closely, but hey, that's what we are here for.
"The Fast and the Furious" (2001)
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Matt Schulze.
Plot: Going by the name of Brian Spielner, Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) tries to appeal to the street racing scene in Los Angeles by challenging its hot rod Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) to win his respect. When Brian manages to get into the good graces of Dom (and catches the eyes of his sister, Mia), Brian begins his real work as an undercover cop to find out who has been responsible for a string of hijackings on cargo trucks from the city's port.
Following a few false leads, including Dom's Vietnamese rivals, Johnny Tran and his cousin Lance, Vince (Matt Schulze) begins to have suspicions about Brian's real identity. Dom decides to let Brian prove his worth and loyalty at the Race Wars, while the FBI and the LAPD whom Brian works for begin to doubt his loyalty to the police force for his stubbornness to investigate Dom.
Brian finally reveals his true identity to Mia, when Dominic, Letty, and Vince take off from the race for a job, proving that Dom was the one who was leading the hijackings all along. After letting the cat out of the bag in order to save Vince from a gunshot wound, Dom goes on the run from the authorities but gets tangled up with Johnny and Lance after one of Dom's mechanics ran off after losing the race. When Dom's car gets totaled after his climatic race with Brian, O'Conner shows his loyalty to Dom by handing over his keys to his car, letting Dom ride away for his quarter mile to freedom in Mexico.
"2 Fast 2 Furious" (2003)
Cast: Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes, Ludacris, Devon Aoki
Plot: After being discharged from his duty as an officer, Brian makes his way to Miami where he becomes infamous with the racing scene there. However, Brian eventually lands on the wrong side of the authorities there (who are much better at catching street racers), and is brought before his former employers. In exchange of clearing his criminal record since he left the force, Brian is offered to cooperate with the local Customs to pose as a skillful driver for the drug lord, Carter Verone.
Needing a second driver to be part of Verone's delivery team, Brian goes to meet his childhood friend Ronan Pierce (Tyrese Gibson), who is offered the same annulment of his house arrest sentence if he agrees to cooperate. O'Conner and Pearce eventually makes contact with Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes), the Custom's own undercover agent serving Verone, who gives them information that Verone is planning to have a package delivered out soon to an airstrip.
On the day of the delivery, the sting operation to arrest Verone and his stash of dirty money is compromised when Verone finds out of Fuentes's identity and that the plane waiting on the airstrip is a diversion. After a clever ruse worked together with Tej (Ludacris) to confuse the authorities, Brian and Pearce drive out to save Fuentes and have their records cleaned after delivering Verone to the authorities.
"The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" (2006)
Cast: Lucas Black, Nathalie Kelley, Shad Moss, Sung Kang.
Plot: After getting into an auto accident while racing (and wrecking) a suburban development, Sean Boswell is sent to Japan to live with his Navy father or face the courts in the US. While being introduced to the racing scene in Tokyo, by his classmate Twinkie (Shad Moss), and drifting, Boswell challenges the Drift King ('DK') to a drift race using Han's (Sung Kang) car. Failing miserably and managing to ruin Han's car in the process, Han takes Sean under his wing to work for him until Sean clears his debt for the damage.
As Sean learns the ways of drifting, he also gets closer to Neela (Nathalie Kelley); DK's object of affection to which she also owes a debt of gratitude to DK's family. While tension mounts between Sean and DK, Han has been making money on the side under the nose of DK's yakuza uncle, who does not take the profiteering lightly. When DK finally confronts Han for this betrayal, they chase across the streets of Tokyo where Han gets killed by an explosion after his car is rammed by a mysterious vehicle.
Sean finally decides to make things right again by coming clean to DK's uncle and challenges DK to a race whereby the winner will have to right to remain in Tokyo. DK sets the duel to his home ground at the mountains, but Sean manages to take over the title of the Drift King and is permitted to stay by the yakuza. In the end, a challenger arrives to challenge DK, claiming to be family to Han who turns out to be Dominic Toretto.
"Fast and Furious" (2009)
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordanna Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Sung Kang, Tego Calderon, Don Omar
Plot: Taking place 5 years after "The Fast and the Furious" (and before "Tokyo Drift"), Dom, Letty, Han, Leo and Omar are in the business of hijacking oil tankers for liquid gold in the Dominican Republic. When their last job comes with the authorities hot on Dom's tail, he decides to leave Letty and Mia behind to draw the attention of the law away from them.
Meanwhile back in LA, O'Conner has become an agent of the FBI (complete with suit and tie) and is part of an investigation to crackdown on the Braga Cartel that has been smuggling heroin into the country. While in hiding, Dom receives a call from Mia, telling him that Letty has been killed, and Dom secretly returns back to LA to witness Letty's burial. He vows vengeance on Letty's killer and deduced that she had been running from someone that deals with drugs upon her death.
O'Conner and Dom are drawn together when they go chasing after the same target who could provide more clues, and they both are given a chance to prove themselves as drivers for Braga if they manage to pass a test. They both succeed but each of them has their own reasons to be working for Braga. Dom finally finds the man who pulled the trigger on Letty, while getting acquainted with Giselle (Gal Gadot) and O'Conner is gradually uncovering the real leader of the cartel. After hatching a double cross on Braga by stowing away a shipment of drugs worth millions, Dom and O'Conner manage to lure out the real Braga and apprehend him for the authorities.
Despite pleading for clemency on behalf of Dom for his involvement that led to the arrest of Braga, Dom is still sentenced to life imprisonment at a maximum security prison. Unsatisfied with the verdict, O'Conner hatches an escape plan for Dom when he is being transported to the prison and together make their way to Brazil.
"Fast Five" (2011)
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordanna Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sun Kang, Gal Gadot, Tego Calderon, Don Omar, Dwayne Johnson, Elsa Pataky
Plot: Penniless and now wanted fugitives in the United States, O'Conner and Mia find themselves at the doorstep of Vince who has settled down in Rio de Janeiro with his own family. When Mia finds out that she is pregnant, they both are offered a job to steal back a few seized cars from a train. Dom later joins them for the job but things go awry when Dom gets the feeling that something is amiss.
While Mia manages to escape with one of the cars, Dom and O'Conner are caught and tortured by Hernan Reyes; an investor and crime lord of Rio who wants that particular car that Mia had stolen from them. After Dom and O'Conner manage to escape, Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and his team from the Diplomatic Security Service are sent down to Rio to hunt down Dom and O'Conner, with the enlisted help of officer Elena (Elsa Pataky) as their local correspondent.
After figuring out what Reyes was after in the form of a microchip that leads to all of his illegal cash houses in the city, Dom, O'Conner and Mia are beset by Reyes' men with Hobb's team caught in the crossfire. Refusing to keep on running and knowing that Mia is pregnant, they all decide to hatch a plan to rob Reyes of all of his money as payback and assemble their team by bringing in their old friends.
Fearful after one raid by the team on one of his cash houses, Reyes takes the precaution of having all of his money locked away in a vault at the police station under his payroll, while Hobbs continues to hunt for his American fugitives. Dom also breaks into Elena's house to get back a sentimental item that once belonged to Letty, and they both have an understanding of what it feels like to have lost a loved one.
Dom and Brian's plan seems to be reaching fruition after clearing a few obstacles, but just before they are about to pull it off, complications arise that get Dom, O'Conner and Mia arrested by Hobbs. As Hobbs is en route to extradite his captives, they are ambushed by Reyes' men who wipe out Hobb's team in cold blood, leaving Hobbs willing to work with Dom momentarily until he can avenge for his team.
With everything finally in place, Dom, O'Conner and everyone else charges headlong into the police station and tows the vault away, leading to a car chase that lets Hobbs get his revenge. In a small act of gratitude, Hobbs gives Dom and the rest of his team a head start before he comes after them again. Set for life with Reyes' money, the team goes their respective way to live out their dreams.
Just by the end, however, Hobbs is assigned to a new case of a military convoy being hit by a team of expert drivers and among them is Letty who is thought to be dead.
"Furious 6" (2013)
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordanna Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sun Kang, Gal Gadot, Tego Calderon, Don Omar, Dwayne Johnson, Elsa Pataky, Luke Evans
Plot: Mia safely gives birth to her child with O'Conner and life seems to be getting better for everyone, except that they miss their home in Los Angeles. Hobbs manages to track down Dom, who is spending his days with Elena, and asks for his help to take down a new team of drivers that have been hijacking convoys around the world.
Baiting him with information that Letty is among the wanted hijackers, Dom brings back the team from Rio and only agrees to help Hobbs if they are allowed to return back to the United States. After agreeing to do so, Hobbs briefs them of their target; Owen Shaw, a former special forces operative who runs the forces' mobility division, making them highly trained adversaries to Dom and his crew that is on a whole new level.
After coming close to botching Shaw's escape from Russia, Dom comes face to face with Letty but is shot by her as though she did not know him. The team continues to investigate Shaw's true motives behind the hijacks and finds out that he is out to assemble a 'Nightshade' device that can take out an entire military communications grid to be sold to the highest bidder.
The pursuit for Shaw eventually takes them all to London, and just as Dom was about to catch Shaw in a trap, he is forced to exchange Shaw's freedom with the last component he needed for Mia, who is kidnapped by Shaw's men. Just as Shaw is about to escape on a heavy aircraft, Dom and everyone race down the airstrip, pulling the plane down from takeoff, but losing Giselle in the process.
Shaw is killed as a result and Dom, O'Conner, Letty and Mia are all allowed back to their home back in Los Angeles, as they can finally put their past behind. Meanwhile, in Tokyo where Han is running underground deals, his accident while running away from DK in "Tokyo Drift" is revealed to be not so accidental at all. It was the work of Deckard Shaw, brother to the dead Owen, and he calls Dom to let him know that he is coming for them.
Cinema Online, 31 March 2015