Fast & Furious: Stunts That Went Wrong
Fast & Furious: Stunts That Went Wrong
This is video about some of the stunts that went wrong on some of the Fast and Furious movies.
STUNTS THAT WENT WRONG
It’s hard to argue that the Fast and Furious franchise is now the undisputed king of car related stunts.
After 20 years and eight movies so far, we’ve seen cars launched into the air, driven off a cliff, dropped from parking garages and crushed by a tank.
The action sequences in the more recent Fast movies are seemingly designed just to dispose of unwanted cars.
As of this writing, we’re waiting on the release of Fast 9, which has promised to have a sequence in space. Whether a car is involved or not is anyone’s guess.
Even fans of other car movies like Bullitt, Gone in 60 Seconds, and Ronin have to be impressed by the stunts in the Fast movies.
Sure, more advanced CG helps, but the stunt teams on the Fast movies make the practical shots look spectacular.
And while CG is playing bigger roles in movies these days, action movies are nothing without stunt people.
Since the earliest days of movie making, stunts have been part of our favorite movies. These men and women make stunts seem easy.
Today, it’s probably a safe bet that 99 times out of 100, no matter how dangerous the stunt looks, the stunts go off perfectly,
but during my time working on the first couple of movies, there were a few instances where they didn’t go off exactly as planned.
Despite the franchise’s amazing safety record, there were accidents. A few minor, a couple of serious and one that was nearly fatal. I’ll show you that after this break.
Being a stunt player sounds like a dream job. In reality, it’s hard work and takes decades of training and practice before you’d ever find yourself working on blockbuster movie.
As such, the stunt teams who’ve worked on the Fast and Furious movies are among the very best in the industry.
In fact, Stunts Unlimited, the company that provided stunt players for these movies, has been widely lauded for its amazing work.
But despite all the preparations, all the mathematical calculations and all the safety measures that are taken, and having top stunt players, occasionally, something goes wrong.
In the first movie, there was one notable incident: it happened while filming Brian’s Supra is being chased by Johnny Tran and his cousin Lance who were on motorcycles.
In this sequence, one of the stunt riders landed a little awkwardly and ended up breaking his leg.
You can bet that this stunt rider had been riding motorcycles for many years and had all the expertise needed to pull of the stunt without incident, but some times, accidents happen by sheer luck.
In this case, on the landing, the motorcycle seemed to take an unpredictable bounce only to fall onto his leg and that was that.
A broken leg probably meant he was done working on that movie, but word is that he recovered and continued doing stunts.
There were several major stunts in this movie, but the biggest and most complex stunt in that movie was the Charger flip scene.
That stunt was done using a pipe ramp to get the car up and over the front of the big rig but truth be told, they had no idea how the car would land.
A beefy roll cage, a suspended racing seat and all the other usual precautions were taken, but when the director shouted “action,” no one really knew what was going to happen.
After the stunt, the Production team watched the playback over and over. It looked great and the concern that the fake supercharger would reveal itself in the shot was for nothing. It stayed attached to the hood and most importantly; the stunt driver was not injured.
Although the Charger stunt went off flawlessly, the minor motorcycle incident served as a reminder as to why movie studios don’t let actors do their own stunts.
Actors are usually prohibited by contract to do their own stunts for several reasons, not the least of which being that an injured actor could delay the film by weeks, months or indefinitely.
Of course, there are several actors who actually do some of their own stunts, such as Jackie Chan, Daniel Craig, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie and Adam Driver to name a few.
Actors like Jackie Chan actually got into acting only after being a stuntman, but for the most part, there’s a limit to what motion picture studios will allow their actors to take on.
Paul Walker liked to take on as many stunts as he felt comfortable doing as long as the studio would approve.
Although all of the stunt driving sequences in the first movie were handled by stunt drivers, by the second movie, Paul was ready to take on a bit more of the performance driving.
By the time we started filming 2 Fast 2 Furious, Paul was deep into the car hobby. He already owned his on R34 GTR by that time and he was starting to show interest in racing.
All the actors on that film got performance driving training from professional drivers. You can watch that training session on the DVD’s bonus features.
Paul was feeling more confident and he started making requests to John Singleton to do some of own driving stunts. It was part of Singleton’s plan to let the actors ad lib more on this movie.
In one well-known incident, Paul wanted to be the one driving the GTR when it does the ebrake stop at the end of the first race, which is something that most young people experiment with the ebrake early in our youth. It’s a pretty simple thing to do so they let him try it.
After some practice, he pulled it off.
Paul was also given the go-ahead to do some of the driving in the ensuing police chase.
If you remember this sequence, as Paul tries to get away from the cops, his car is hit by the ESP harpoon dart, he misjudges a turn, jumps the curb and takes out a parking meter. That was absolutely not in the script.
Originally, he was supposed to drive into a ditch.
However, when they looked at the film playback, Singleton decided that it was a perfect way to end the scene and that shot stayed in the movie.
No one was hurt but the car required some extensive and expensive repairs.
Another more serious incident took place during the sequence called the “audition race.” This is the part where several drivers are trying to recover an item for Carter Verone, the movie’s villain, from a car locked up in a boat yard.
As the cars weave in and out of lanes, one scheduled sequence included the Corvette crashing into another car. Despite the rumors, that scene was INDEED in the script. What WASN’T in the script was the Corvette flipping over.
Disaster was averted only because Terry Leonard, the stunt director, told the stunt driver that he would need a pull strap in the car. A pull strap is something attached to a hard point on the passenger side of a stunt car.
In the event of an imminent roll over, the stunt driver pulls his head down toward the floor of the passenger side of the car. If the roof collapses, the driver will be better protected.
The stunt driver was reluctant to do so, but he relented and probably saved himself from serious injury in the process.
Perhaps the biggest incident in that movie occurred during the bridge jump sequence.
The GT-R jumped as planned and despite the expected damage to the car, the stunt driver walked away. CG made it look like the car was doing 100+ mph and the car soared 150 feet, but in really, the jump was done off a 5 foot tall ramp at about 50 mph.
For the S2000 however, it was a different story. Because we couldn’t put a stunt driver in that car because the roll bar would be visible, the stunt team rigged the car to be driven by remote control.
With everything tested in place, we were ready. A Dodge Durango was the chase vehicle, and carried a driver who used a Playstation wheel and pedal setup to remotely steer and brake.
The problem was that the chase vehicle needed to stay fairly close to the S2000 to ensure that the radio signal worked.
Both the S2000 and the chase vehicle headed for the ramp and while the S2000 sailed off the ramp, the Durango’s brakes weren’t as good as expected. The Durango didn’t stop in time and the front end of the Durango dropped off the ramp as shown here. The airbags went off on both sides of the Durango and the guy operating the remote control system of the S2000 suffered some minor injuries.
As bad as this was, it could’ve been much worse.
Had they not had placed a ramp and actually tried to jump the gap from one side of the bridge to the other, the Durango chase vehicle would’ve dropped about 100 feet into the water below, and probably upside down. That would’ve been a disaster.
There was another minor incident that occurred during a rehearsal for the Warehouse Scramble.
While the lead cars in each of these rows of cars were driven by stunt people, many of the car’s actual owners were allowed to driver their own cars that followed the stunt drivers.
During a rehearsal, the stunt man who drover the orange Julius RX7 went out the wrong door — there was no ramp coming out of that door so the RX7 dropped about four feet to the ground.
The car sustained some damage but the stunt driver was released from the film, suffering only from a bruised ego. Hey, everyone makes mistakes.
While there may have been other minor incidents on other Fast movies about which I’m unaware, the biggest incident by far seems to have been the one that occurred on Fast 9 back in July of 2019.
An accident on the set of Universal’s “Fast & Furious 9” in the United Kingdom has left a stuntman in the hospital with a serious head injury. Production on the movie has halted at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, near London.
“We had an injury on the set of ‘FAST 9’ today in Leavesden with one of our stuntmen,” a Universal spokesperson confirmed to Variety on Monday. “We have halted production for the day to focus on this situation.”
Police said they were called to an incident shortly before noon U.K. time and an air ambulance was duly called out.
“An ambulance, three ambulance officer vehicles and Essex and Herts [Hertfordshire] Air Ambulance were called to Leavesden Studios shortly before midday today (July 22), following reports of a man injured in a fall. One patient with a serious head injury was transported to the Royal London Hospital by air ambulance,” authorities said in a statement.
The sequence required the stuntman to be high up off the ground and a safety cable might’ve broken, which led to the stuntman, Joe Watts, who is the stunt double for Vin Diesel, falling from a 30 foot height and landing partially on his head.
He was placed into an induced coma and after making substantial progress, he was released from the hospital in August of 2019. We wish Joe a full and speedy recovery. You sir, are a badass.
The whole incident is yet another reminder that making these movies can be dangerous. These high-flying, explosive stunts have only the tiniest of margins of error.
So to those of you stunt men and women in the industry, on behalf of all of us Fast and Furious fans, we can’t thank you enough for making the Fast and Furious movies the greatest car movie franchise in history.
That’ll wrap it up for this episode. Tune in next time for more behind the scenes stories. And if you’re liking the content so far, please consider subscribing. See you next time.