The Fast & Furious franchise might have started life as a low-key endeavour about LA street racers, but it’s quickly transformed into a blockbuster behemoth with worldwide appeal.
Nothing typifies this more than the exotic locations Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson find themselves dispatched to in the name of vehicular mayhem. Once rebellious petrolheads in search of a fifth gear thrill, Dominic Toretto’s team are now crossing continents to fight terror.
In Fast & Furious 8 they hit Iceland, the US and Cuba in a bid to take down Charlize Theron’s dangerous cyber criminal, Cipher. With Fast 8 speeding into cinemas, here’s a look through some of the key locations used in the globe-hopping hit film series.
In the Fast & Furious movies all roads eventually lead back to 722 N. East Kensington Road in LA. Located in the ethnically diverse Echo Park area, this two-story craftsman bungalow (numbered 1327 in the films) doubles as the home of Dom Toretto’s ever-expanding family and his trusty Dodge Charger.
The house has been present in Fast & Furious movies stretching back to the first outing in 2001 – that is until a bomb delivery from Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw turned it into a flaming wreck in Fast & Furious 7.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift was the first film in the series to move the story outside of the US. Japan’s capital provided the backdrop, and director Justin Lin set a key sequence at the hectic Shibuya Crossing intersection, where red lights bring all traffic to a standstill and hundreds of pedestrians swarm across like marching ants.
Strict regulations mean Tokyo can be a difficult city to secure filming permits, so Tokyo Drift had to use a clever combination of footage shot on location and visual effects to create Lucas Black and Sung Kang’s memorable ‘drift’ encounter.
The first four Fast & Furious movies were box office hits, but the franchise became a bona fide phenomenon with the release of Fast Five in 2011. The introduction of Dwayne Johnson’s DEA agent Luke Hobbs brought fresh energy to the series, as did a storyline that saw the characters plan a heist to swipe US$100 million from a crooked South American businessman.
The setting was Brazil, with Rio landmarks Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statue appearing prominently on screen. Copacabana beach was also used as a meeting point for Toretto’s heist crew. In a case of movie magic, the rooftop chase across Rio’s favelas was actually filmed in Puerto Rico and not Brazil.
Fast & Furious 6 pitted Dom Toretto and crew against rogue British special ops soldier Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) – naturally that meant a trip to the UK was in order. The movie featured a thrilling race that saw Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez tear through the streets of central London.
Kicking off at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office courtyard in Westminster, a Dodge Charger Daytona and Jensen Interceptor speed through Whitehall and Piccadilly Circus before ending up in the shadow of Battersea Power Station. Elsewhere, eagle-eyed Londoners might want to look out for Lambeth Bridge in Millbank doubling as Moscow.
The Fast & Furious movies boast their fair share of insane stunts – leaping from a tank as it flies across a bridge, chasing a cargo jet down a never-ending runway, parachuting out of planes in cars… all impressive, but the United Arab Emirates provided the location for one of the most eye-popping.
In Fast 7, Toretto and Paul Walker’s Brian O’Connor traverse the Abu Dhabi skyline by driving a US$3.4 million Lykan HyperSport supercar through one skyscraper into another… and then from the second tower into a third, before leaping out as the vehicle plummets to the ground. All of this was accomplished with the help of cutting-edge digital effects – Diesel didn’t actually risk life and limb to crash through buildings in mid-air.
It’s taken a while, but Fast & Furious finally hits the streets of New York in its latest instalment. The Big Apple isn’t the easiest place to drive around at speed, yet Fast 8 finds a way thanks to Charlize Theron’s hacker Cipher taking remote control of Manhattan’s cars and causing carnage.
The crew even managed to shut down the bustling streets of Times Square to shoot part of an elaborate chase involving Diesel’s good-guy-gone-bad Dom Toretto.
Everything from Batman Begins to Game of Thrones has been filmed in Iceland, but Fast & Furious 8 is the first movie to shoot on Mývatn lake in the north of the country. The production spent two months working on stunts at the stunning location, which sits close to the active Krafla volcano.
Mývatn provides the backdrop for a car crashing into the ice, a submarine erupting up through the ice, and Dwayne Johnson trying to manually alter the course of a missile as it slides along to its target at high speed. Dramatic stuff!
After a frosty Cold War, diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba were only restored in 2015. That’s meant that no Hollywood movie has been able to shoot on the island and its archipelagos.
That’s all changed thanks to the might of the Fast & Furious series. Fast 8 has made history by becoming the first major American production to shoot in Havana. It plays host to a street race between two vintage 50s American cars a world away from the souped-up motors of previous Fast films.
Fast & Furious 8 is on general release from April 12, 2017