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Renowned American actor Robert Patrick who has starred in a number of nineties classics including Die Hard 2 and Wayne’s World, once said: “You don’t buy a Harley with your mind, you buy it with your heart and your balls.” Throughout time, Harley Davidson has been able to unite people on a very passionate and authentic level. Around the world, but specifically in America, the ideals of self-expression and freedom that a Harley is typically associated with transcends all cultures, age groups, and genders. Ever since the Harley Davidson company introduced its first V-Twin powered motorcycle in 1909, every decade to date has been filled with countless memories of the world’s most iconic motorcycle brand. Here’s a quick summary.

Images from Unsplash.com

The Sixties was a decade of great innovation

In 1960, around about the same time that Chubby Checker’s The Twist became a hit, Harley Davidson released what would be its only scooter platform ever, the Topper scooter. Three years later in 1963, Ralph White won the Daytona 200 on a Harley Davidson 750KR while dirt track racer Bart Markel won the AMA Grand National Championship in both 1965 and 1966. In cinema, the quintessential Harley movie Easy Rider was released which featured a ‘Captain America’ chopper – perhaps the most iconic of all Harleys. Although two of these choppers were custom-built for the film, only one survived the shoot. Unfortunately, the sole survivor met its own fiery end in 2010 when collector Gordon Granger’s warehouse in Austin, Texas burned down.

The cruiser was born in the Seventies

The seventies were a busy time for the Harley Davidson crew. 1971 saw the birth of a new class of motorcycle known as the cruiser with the introduction of the FX 1200 Super Glide. In 1973 the new alloy XR-750 debuted. This powerful piece of machinery went on to become the most popular dirt track racer for the next 30 years. It was in 1975 that a Harley was featured in what was to become one of the greatest cult classics of all time. In a scene from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, ex delivery-boy Eddie rides out of a deep freeze in Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s lair on a beautiful WLA. Although this was definitely not the last time an HD would be seen on the silver screen, it remains one of the most memorable appearances to this day. During the last year of the decade, 1979, the world was introduced to the FXEF Fat Bob that got its name from its dual gas tanks and bobbed fenders.

The Eighties will never be forgotten

It is with very good reason that the eighties will always remain one of the most memorable decades ever. Not only did the Cold War end and the Berlin Wall fell during this period, but Harley Davidson also underwent a tremendous revolution. February 26, 1981 marked a turning point for Harley Davidson as 13 senior executives signed a letter of intent to purchase the Harley Davidson Motor Company from AMF.  In 1982, which was the same year that 60 Minutes was the top-rated TV show and children were playing with He-Man figurines, the Materials as Needed (MAN) application was introduced to the manufacturing process.  In 1987, Harley Davidson was listed on the New York Stock Exchange with the company also starting its buy-back program XLH 883 Sportster which offered a full trade-in value within 2 years on either an FL or FX model.

The Harley Davidson brand is without a doubt one of the most well-known in the entire world. Already more than a century old, it is almost impossible to even begin to imagine the greatness we can expect to see from everyone’s favorite motorcycle brand in years to come.

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I just rewatched and reviewed The Fast and the Furious. I’m not watching 2 Fast 2 Furious as my next movie in my rewatch of the Fast and Furious movies, however, because next on the chronological list is the Turbo-Charged Prelude short film.

I never knew about this short before I did my research for the best order to watch the F&F films. Apparently it was included on special edition home versions of the first film, and also in some theatrical presentations of the second film.

It’s only 6 minutes long, has hardly any speaking (if any actually), and basically acts as a segway to explain what Brian got up to after the first film and how he ended up on the East Coast.

The title screen has the following text: “Paul Walker returns in this electrifying short film that continues the action of The Fast and the Furious and takes you to the sizzling streets of Miami where 2 Fast 2 Furious begins.”

I probably shouldn’t link to it on YouTube but just search for Turbo-Charged Prelude and you’ll find it. Here are my notes whilst watching it for the first time.

  • It starts off like a weird music video with some dodgy music and Brian looking in the mirror and seeing old clips from the first movie in the mirror
  • We cut to a police station and see confirmation that Brian has left the police and is on the run. They’re handing out wanted posters with his face on it
  • In yet another homage to Point Break (in my opinion anyway) they choose to show the cops that are breaking into Brian’s house dressed in the same rain coats and cap covers that the Australian cops do at the end of Point Break
  • I loved the Indiana Jones style map that appears as he drives across America from L.A. to Miami
  • Where did he get his first car from? He gave his car to Dom and then fled from the police. I’m curious to know where he got the wheels
  • We learn that he is basically driving across America winning money in street races. I’d kind of want to see a whole movie about that
  • His wanted picture is in the paper and TV. Some girl then spots him in a roadside diner. He doesn’t even wear a cap or anything to try to hide. He just has a worse haircut than in the first movie but I think that’s just a bad fashion choice rather than a disguise
  • There’s a great zoom in to the wanted pick in the newspaper he’s reading where they add a whoosh sound effect. Very reminiscent of the sound effects when Brian, Dom and Jesse turn their heads towards the end of the first film. Love it
  • He loses his new car as the cops pick it up. Screwed. But… luckily his good looks help him out as the pretty girl gives him a lift into a whole other state.
  • He buys a new car cheap and somehow manages to do it up himself to become a street race winner. Didn’t know he had those skills
  • He also learns how to shake with his left hand
  • He obviously has no idea where he wants to go because he only chooses between Miami and New York when he hits that junction in the freeway. Talk about living live on the edge
  • He spots some souped up cars in Miami (belonging to characters Slap Jack and Orange Julius, who we meet in 2 Fast 2 Furious), he smiles, and then it says “2 Be Continued”

To be honest this short does a fairly good job in telling us what happened, but they must have had a really small budget for it. They couldn’t even afford to record proper audio of people speaking. Or maybe there was a writer’s strike!

I will attempt my normal scoring and review section now…

Main characters
Brian
Girl

Most memorable scene
One bit that is genuinely cool is when he gets a couple of bikers riding alongside him and they egg him on to race them. He gives a cool little nod, they slap their mirror visors down shut, and then they end up getting caught for speeding by the police. Nicely done, Brian.

Best stunt
I’m going to give it to the camera zoom in on the wanted poster. Incredible camera work.

Quote of the movie
There is no speaking.

Score – 2/10
Not really sure how to score this. I guess it could have been worse, so I shouldn’t give it a 1.

Ranking (the best at the top)
The Fast and the Furious
Turbo-Charged Prelude

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Retromash by Retromash - 4d ago

I’ve never been a massive petrol head but I certainly appreciate a fine automobile. I often fantasise about what sort of things I would buy if I suddenly came into money. If you didn’t have to work and you could spend stupid amounts of money on things you’ve always wanted. It’s just a nice way to daydream sometimes.

It could be winning the lottery, beating the house in Vegas, playing free slots online, the pools (do people still play the pools?) or getting free money from a very generous Nigerian bank (jk). But let’s just imagine I’m suddenly very rich. What sort of cars would I buy? Firstly let’s say I’m not a very flash guy so I would probably actually just buy a top of the range Volvo or something. I don’t like showing off. Plus I probably wouldn’t have the space to have all the cars below, unless I bought a huge mansion (which I probably wouldn’t do). So that’s why I’m calling these my dream cars. It’s nice to fantasise about them at the very least.

Lamborghini Countach

This one is a no brainer. This is the car I have been in love with for as long as I can remember. Ever since I saw the Cannonball Run or had the above Athena poster on my wall. Read about how I tracked down and met the artist who painted that amazing poster. And I also made this Top Ten list of Lamborghini Countachs which is worth a read. I’d love to drive a Countach one day. I’ve heard they are not the most comfortable and also are quite heavy to drive. But they just look so amazing. I would probably try to go for a black one, like in the Athena poster. The artist Keith Harmer actually owned a black one of his own. Second choice would be red, and then white.

Ford Mustang ’67-’70

This has always been a car I have admired but I think the first John Wick film tipped me over the edge and I fell in love with it. I’m pretty sure it’s a ’69 Mustang in that film but I would happily settle for any Mustang between about ’67 and ’70. They’re all great. There are loads of great movie Mustangs, including John Wick, Bullitt, Gone in 60 Seconds, Tokyo Drift and more. This is probably a car I would actually get in real life if I was rich as it’s not overly flashy.

AC Cobra

I think I discovered the AC Cobra in a really old episode of Top Gear back in the late 80s. And soon after that there were new models of the AC Cobra that were re-released by the company who purchased the brand. I get a bit mixed up about the history of the company to be honest but I think there were new replicas made in the early 90s, and I saw one in real life near where I lived. It was most likely a replica, but that’s ok. Still the same bodywork. I would say it’s even more beautiful than the Lamborghini Countach. Amazing lines. This would be my Sunday car, going driving around the countryside with the wind in my face. (Not the wind in my hair. I don’t have any hair.) Here’s the old Top Gear episode that I think I saw.

Pickup truck

Perhaps a bit of a random one here but I love pickup trucks. I just don’t have any need for them or space for them. But perhaps, in my dream fantasy future, if I was rich, I might get a house up in the Colorado hills or somewhere and I would need a pickup. Let’s go with that situation. So which one do I get? The Fall Guy’s GMC truck? Love it. The Toyota 4×4 from Back to the Future? Very cool. Or perhaps I would just go all out and get a Monster Truck to drive down to the shops with, like the guy in Road House.

70s Chevy Van

This one may make you laugh as well, but I absolutely love these vans. There’s one near where I live just now and I must say I’m very envious. It was probably the A-Team’s GMC van that got me into vans in the first place, but the 70s Chevy vans are just stunning. I could seriously spend all day looking at photos of them on Google images.
There we go. That’s my shortlist. What would your dream cars be?

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Retromash by Retromash - 5d ago

After my previous posts about how I’m watching the Fast and Furious series, and also the differences and similarities between Point Break and The Fast and the Furious, I’m finally actually starting the series itself. My re-journey into the ‘Fast and Furiverse’ begins.

As I mentioned in a previous post, this was basically Paul Walker’s vehicle. The director, Rob Cohen, had approached him and asked him what sort of film he wanted to do. He said a mashup of Days of Thunder and Donnie Brasco. Hence The Fast and Furious was born (although I’m sure they called it ‘Point Break with cars’ in the pitch).

This is a great film. Some people don’t really like it, some say it’s just trying to be Point Break, and the fact is that this is a very different movie from what the series ends up being. But I like it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s a whole lot of fun, and it has some pretty strong characters. Here are my notes as I rewatched it.

  • It was great to hear a Live track in the first few minutes of the song. I had always remembered that song in the film but had never quite twigged that it was Live for some reason. Live are in my top 5 bands of all time, so it was surprising I hadn’t recognised it before.
  • One of the first things that Jesse says is, “Wow, he’s beautiful”. He’s not wrong. Paul Walker was a beautiful, beautiful man.
  • It’s some entrance by Dom. Low camera angles, muscle-bound physicality and Vin Diesel’s voice sounding incredibly low and gravelly. Almost inhumanly low.
  • Dom seems to have a problem with running. When he breaks up the first fight between Vince and Brian he just kind of speedwalks out of the cafe. And he does the same near the end of the film when he drives off in his black car after that thing happens on the lawn with Jesse. He does actually run when he is running from the cops after the street race, so perhaps he only does it when he really, really has too.
  • Brian’s a bit of a dick to his undercover boss, Harry. He’s messing with Harry’s business and doesn’t even apologise. He just tells Harry to relax and then immediately insists on getting more expensive tune ups to his car.
  • At the first street racing meetup we hear what I think is the only audible reference to Fast and Furious in what I assume is probably a Ja Rule song where he raps “Do it fast, do it furious”.
  • Brian manages to look cool even when he does pretty big blunders like driving too far over the start line and having to reverse back. He somehow gets away with it all.
  • Dom calls one of the blonde ‘skanks’ (Letty’s words) ‘Monika’. But then Ja Rule shouts ‘Monikaaa’ when he is losing the race because the girl who was talking to him was also called Monika. Is every girl at the street race called Monika? Is that a ‘moniker’ that they’re all given?
  • The graphics in the game that the Asian guy plays on the start line slightly dates the film. I’m guessing it’s probably PS2 as the PS2 was released around the time the film was probably being filmed, but there’s a chance it’s actually only PS1 graphics. It’s pretty pixelated anyway.
  • The effect where the camera flies into Dom’s car and then out again during the race, is kind of cool but also just looks pretty dated. I can imagine it was incredibly cool at the time.
  • I kind of like when Brian looks like a little kid full of adrenalin when he loses the race. Breathing heavily and looking round not knowing what to do. Kind of shows that he’s a bit out of his depth but also that he’s absolutely loving it. A taster for where his priorities may soon lie.
  • I never quite get how Dom is ok when Brian owes him a 10 second car and then brings round a wreck that just happens to have a decent engine in it, but Dom’s happy to immediately spend $15k on it. Is the engine really that good? And he can tell right away that the engine is totally intact despite the rest of the car being a wreck?
  • I quite like Vince. He is a bit of a douchebag but he’s the only one who thought right from the start that Brian was a cop.
  • Vince’s string vests feel like a homage to Bennett from Commando! I like him even more for that.
  • Brian’s boss in the LAPD says “There’s all types of family Brian, and that’s a choice you’re going to have to make”. Quite interesting to hear that when you think ahead to everything that happens in the run up to Fast 7.
  • There’s something about the way that Dom punches Johnny Tran during Race Wars that I love. The camera angle and the follow through are perfect.
  • Brian telling Mia he’s a cop doesn’t really seem to have the weight that it should. He just suddenly mentions it and she seems pretty ok about it. It’s done cleverly when Brian reveals to Dom that he’s a cop. He does it whilst on the phone calling for a helicopter to save Vince’s life, so Dom can’t get angry and interrupt. Clever, Brian.
  • When they do their last truck robbery in the middle of Race Wars, they go out in the middle of the night but it seems to suddenly become daytime when the actual robbery happens. Were they driving all night? Were they just not going to sleep during Race Wars?
  • The whole bit with Vince getting caught on the front of the truck, and Brian standing on the side of the car to jump across to get him is pretty well done. That shot of Brian crouching on the side of the car is one of the iconic shots of the film for me.
  • When Brian hands Dom the keys at the end he hands them home in a really weird way. I really don’t know why. I guess to make them more visible on screen, but it just looks weird.
Above photos all from IMDB

I think the film still holds up reasonably well. The thing that ages it the most are some of the shots and effects. Things like the camera flying into and out of the car during a street race, or the noise that happens when they whip their heads round to see Johnny Tran about to kill Jesse (although I kind of love that), or the slow motion cross fade zoom when Dom and Brian realise the train is coming (not great). None of these have aged that well.

If you like this film I would whole heartedly recommend you listen to the episode about it on

The Rewatchables podcast. I’m on exactly the same page as those guys, as you will probably tell as some of my observations are exactly the same as their ones. I literally shouted ‘Yes!’ when I heard they thought that Vince looked like Bennett from Commando! I hadn’t spotted Brian’s weird key holding until I heard that podcast though, so that one goes out to them. Give it a listen. They’ve got some great insights.

I just watched the deleted scenes on YouTube. There are a couple of good scenes there that I wish they had kept in. The first one gives some good depth and insight into Mia and shows that she’s studying to be a doctor, and flags Brian’s sexism that he assumes she wants to be a nurse, although Brian doesn’t seem to register that what he said was bad. And there’s a scene where Vince yet again says that Brian is the narc. And not long before Brian is revealed to Dom to be a cop too.

I want to run down the main characters in each movie, so that I can keep track of who appears in which instalment of the franchise…

Main characters
Brian
Dom
Mia
Letty
Vince
Jesse
Leon
Hector
Edwin (Ja Rule)
Sgt. Tanner
FBI Agent Bilkins
Johnny Tran

Most memorable scene
This one’s pretty tough because almost every scene is a memorable scene. Seriously. I can’t think of a boring section of this movie. Here are three contenders.

  • The first street race where Brian talks about respect and Dom gives his monologue about winning by an inch or a mile.
  • The drag race at the end where Dom just stops and waits for Brian and says how he used to race here because the distance to the train line is exactly one quarter mile. A poignant moment and even more exciting because they nearly get hit by the train. Nice when they land but then Dom immediately goes flying.
  • But the most memorable scene for me is when Dom shows Brian his ridiculously sized engine in his dad’s car, and even though he’s known Brian about four days he tells him all about his Dad and gives him the big speech about hearing his dad screaming as he burned alive but then being told that it was Dom screaming. He then says how he lives life a quarter mile at a time. A very open and honest moment from what the audience might have thought was just a muscle-bound petrol-head at that point. A great scene all round.

Best stunt
This one was quite tough. It’s either the scene with Brian standing on the side of the car and jumping onto the truck to save Vince, whilst Letty drives under the truck etc. Or it’s the final drag race where Dom and Brian jump past the train and then Dom’s car hits something and flies over Brian’s car upside down. That one is very well done and very realistic, but for me the Fast and Furious franchise is about crazy unrealistic stunts, so I’m going for the first one, where Brian stands on the edge of the car at 80mph and jumps onto the truck. That whole sequence is great.

Quote of the movie
Dom – “I live my life a quarter mile at a time”

That quote just sums up Dom and his whole philosophy for the series to come. Although I very nearly chose “You can have any brew you want, as long as it’s a Corona.”

Score – 8.5 / 10

Great film. Underrated by many. Very cool and entertaining with some iconic moments.

I’ll be ranking all the films as I go along. Obviously this one is no.1 so far.

Tune in soon when I will not be looking at 2 Fast 2 Furious yet, but instead will be looking at the Turbo-Charged Prelude short film.

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You leave the movie theatre walking like him, talking like him, and wanting to be him. Save the world. Get the girl.

We all have had this experience—encountering a movie character so heroic and stylish that you want to emulate their every move.

As Hollywood continues to wow us with thrilling blockbusters, it’s time to look at some cool characters (some heroic, some villainous, others comical) that have helped to show how even box office hits that rake in billions have room for inspiring acting choices.

From the legendary, maniacal Joker, to James Bond in the casino, to the no-nonsense Terminator, here are some of the more memorable Hollywood movie characters of all times. 

1. Heath Ledger (aka The Joker)

He may be gone, but Heath Ledger’s role as the Joker in the Dark Knight movie has inspired many actors, and will surely never be forgotten.

Based on the DC Comics character and supervillain of the same name, the joker is portrayed as a psychotic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with no empathy at all. Think of him as a psychopath who cares less about the affairs of the world—while thieves will rob a bank to get rich, the joker robs a bank to burn the money.

Owing to his excellent performance in his role as the Joker, Ledger won many accolades, including the Golden Global Award for Best Supporting Actor. He has also spawned many cosplays and halloween outfits.

2. Daniel Craig (James Bond)

The fictional character “James Bond” was created by Ian Fleming—a British author, journalist, and former Naval Intelligence officer.

Owing to his superb role as James Bond in the hit movie “Casino Royale,” Daniel Craig has established a name in Hollywood and slowly become an inspiration to many casino and gambling enthusiasts.

James Bond has always been a gambler. He loves the soft sound of the cards and the constant unemphatic drama of the quiet figures round the green tables, whilst sipping on his shaken Vodka Martini.

His dogmatic approach to gambling and a winning mantra that “luck is a servant, not a master” have earned him a name in the gambling community. He is not just a master of poker games but is also a fan of roulette and other casino games (which you can play online to practice to become as good as Bond). I’m sure many of us wish we had Bond’s skill at the Baccarat table.

3. Johnny Depp (aka Captain Jack Sparrow)

Jack’s home is in the sea, and his ship (The Black Pearl) is his only true love.

Portrayed by Johnny Depp, Jack Sparrow is a fictional character and the main protagonist in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. The film series became huge in the early noughties and the character of Jack Sparrow was the iconic figure at the heart of them.

Jack is trickster, a strategist, and a master negotiator. He can be treacherous but survives in the dangerous seas by use of wits and tricks—fleeing from most of the dangerous situations without putting up a fight and only using force when necessary. Most of us have probably tried to do an impression of the Keith Richard-inspired Jack Sparrow voice at least once or twice.

4. Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)

Arnold Schwarzenegger is as iconic a star in Hollywood as anyone can be.

In all his films—from Commando (1985) to Total Recall (1990) to the hit Terminator series, Schwarzenegger is depicted as a hero who fears no one and never backs down to a challenge. A sheer combination of physical strength, will for justice, and indomitable courage are what defines him.

The Terminator is arguably his most iconic role. Even though he plays a robot sent to destroy humanity in the first film, his character still manages to find redemption later in the series.

5. Rowan Atkinson (aka Mr. Bean)

We can’t forget the one man who made many of our childhoods hilarious—and that’s no other than Mr. Bean. Perhaps the absolute antithesis of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Portrayed by Rowan Atkinson, Mr. Bean is an icon in the comedy genre. He is not just a mischievous character, but one who has a propensity for causing trouble whenever he goes. Atkinson manages to generate hilarity without even speaking for most of the role.

In all his TV shows and movies, he is known to turn ordinary situations into moments of embarrassment—and that’s his style. His films have attracted large television audiences and won several international awards, including the Rose d’Or. It does help when there is no, or minimal, English actually spoken. It works in virtually every country without subtitles. Genius.

If you have a favourite iconic Hollywood character let us know in the comments.

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In my last post I explained how I was going to rewatch the Fast and Furious franchise and that I’m starting it all off by watching Point Break, as I feel it is not just a the inspiration for The Fast and the Furious but its spiritual forefather.

When The Fast and The Furious first came out, loads of people accused it of just being ‘Point Break with cars’. Firstly, I’m cool with that. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’d much rather have something that copied the blueprint of Point Break and changed it slightly than actually remaking Point Break itself. Secondly, as mentioned above, it’s not just a blatant copy. I feel it references Point Break respectfully a few times, rather than just ripping it off. And thirdly, there are actually quite a few differences. 

I absolutely love Point Break, so I thoroughly enjoyed watching it again. I made a detailed note about the main beats in the movie to see how similar they were to the Fast and the Furious. It’s certainly not a carbon copy. But first let’s look at the similarities.

SIMILARITIES

  • The plot – Yes, it is very similar…
    • The main protagonist is in the FBI (or LAPD but working with the FBI)
    • He goes undercover to infiltrate a gang that is stealing stuff
    • The gang is involved in some extreme sport or activity
    • He initially suspects another rival gang as being the perpetrators
    • He gets very close to the gang he has infiltrated, falls in love with one of the female acquaintances
    • He eventually realises that they are the baddies he has been looking for
    • He ends up letting the gang leader go at the end of the movie
    • He effectively leaves the FBI / LAPD in the final shot
  • Los Angeles – both films are set in L.A.
  • Fights – Bodhi breaks up a fight between Utah and Warchild’s posse. Dom breaks up a fight between Brian and Vince.
  • Corona – They drink Corona at least once in Point Break. I think a few times. It first appears after 11mins. In F&F it is mentioned by name and drunk several times. Dom’s love of Corona is even referenced by Kurt Russell in a later movie. And there was never even any deal made with Corona. It was just the director’s choice
  • Tuna sandwiches – When Pappas orders two meatball subs Johnny Utah orders himself a tuna on wheat. Brian O’Conner goes back to Torreto’s each day and always asks how the tuna is and orders tuna on white (without the crust)
  • Neptune’s Net – This restaurant near Malibu features in both movies. In Point Break it’s where Johnny meets Tyler, and in The Fast and the Furious it’s where Brian and Dom go for shrimp. I actually went to this place on my honeymoon, just because it was recommended as a cool place to go in the area, and I had no idea that it was in these films! We even saw people surfing across the road. Shame. If I’d known I would have got my wife to pose for stupid photo recreations with me. Obviously I would have been the bald Vin Diesel and she would have been the beautiful Paul Walker.
  • Opening shots – The movies open with cool shots of someone doing the activity in question, be it surfing or street racing
  • Closing shot – This must be a homage. In Point Break we see Keanu Reeves walk wistfully towards the camera after he says “He’s not coming back” and then throws his FBI badge into the sea. Paul Walker does the same walk to camera as the final shot in F&F after letting Dom drive off in his car

Some of the above are pretty much copied plot points, but some, like the beer, the tuna, the restaurant, some of the shots etc feel more like homages. Now let’s look at some of the more significant differences.

DIFFERENCES

  • We find out that Johnny Utah is an FBI agent in the first couple of minutes. But we only find out that Brian O’Connor is a cop about 30mins in when he gets fake arrested by his colleagues
  • Johnny Utah is shown to be a star agent getting 100% in his training session. Brian O’Connor on the other hand seems to spin out badly after driving in a straight line and then yells ‘Shit!’ while hitting the steering wheel
  • Johnny Utah’s cover is blown when Tyler finds his ID in his bloody wallet (the fool). Brian openly tells Mia he’s a cop when he’s trying to find out why Dom is leaving Race Wars
  • Johnny Utah has a partner. Brian O’Connor doesn’t.
  • I would say that Dom takes the news about Brian’s real job a lot better than Bodhi takes it when he finds out about Johnny’s job
  • Obviously there are lots more little differences but those ones are the main ones that stand out to me

So there it is. The Fast and The Furious obviously takes a huge steer from Point Break but it’s not absolutely beat for beat the same. But some of the connections are so direct that it must be a homage in some ways. This exercise was just an excuse for me to watch Point Break again.

Anyway, both great films. I would say Point Break is the better movie but The Fast and The Furious started something special. Speaking of which, we will take a detailed look at that movie in my next post very soon.

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I’ve always enjoyed the Fast and Furious franchise, pretty much all the way through, but even more so after it transitioned into the huge action heist movies that they have become today. After I watched Fast 5 I vowed that I would do a full rewatch and review of all the movies. Obviously there have been three more movies since then, so my rewatch is long overdue and now consists of eight movies in total, spanning a total of eighteen years.

But the time is now. Summer is here and I have stocked up on Corona. I am ready to watch these movies and I’m going to take them a quarter mile at a time.

I’m not just going to watch them in the order they were made though. I’ll be watching them in chronological order. My memory was that there were two films that were out of chronological synch, but actually I believe it’s only one, Tokyo Drift. Basically I just need to watch Tokyo Drift in-between the 6th and 7th movies. But also there are two short films that help bridge the gaps between some of the early movies, which I haven’t seen before.

I think these shorts were required because of how the franchise had such an interesting start and the characters and actors changed around a few times before they settled on the key team. For example, my understanding is that after the first film, Vin Diesel and the original director, Rob Cohen, and producer, Neal H Moritz, went off to start the XXX franchise in the hope of basically making Diesel into the American version of James Bond. 

They stuck with Paul Walker to keep the F&F franchise alive without Vin Diesel as Walker had been the main reason for the first film anyway. The story goes that the producers approached Paul Walker and wanted to create a movie around him and asked him what he would like to do. Walker said a mix of Days of Thunder and Donnie Brasco. Well that’s basically what he got. It could perhaps be better described as a mix of Point Break, Days of Thunder, Donnie Brasco and Point Break (again).

Then, after 2 Fast 2 Furious, I believe Walker didn’t want to return and so they got a whole new cast for Tokyo Drift. When they eventually got most of the original cast back again for Fast & Furious they had to create a short film to fill in the gaps. So in one sense it took a while for the franchise to really find it’s feet, but when it did, boy did it find its feet. It’s very interesting to go back now and watch the series through again to see how it all developed.

Here is the full list of movies and shorts in chronological order that I will be watching for this series rewatch.

• The Fast and the Furious (2001)
• Turbo-Charged Prelude (2003)
• 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
• Los Bandoleros (2009)
• Fast & Furious (2009)
• Fast Five (2011)
• Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
• The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
• Furious 7 (2015)
• The Fate of the Furious (Fast & Furious 8) (2017)


It looks like The Fast and Furious is the first movie I’m going to watch. But it isn’t. The first movie I’m going to watch in my Fast & Furious series rewatch is Point Break! It’s not just the movie that F&F ‘copied’. I feel it is the spiritual forefather, and that they directly and openly homaged several aspects of it. So I think it’s the perfect way to start. And in my next post I will be looking at the similarities and differences between Point Break and The Fast and the Furious.

As it happens I actually just watched Roadhouse properly for the first time in about 25 years, around two weeks ago. For me that’s almost the spiritual forefather to Point Break. You can’t really say that Patrick Swayze’s Dalton is the younger version of Bodhi, because Dalton is just too nice, but I like to think that they could be twin brothers, both very zen and into Kung Fu etc. So I feel that watching Roadhouse and then Point Break is the perfect lead-in to kickstarting the Fast and Furious franchise.

I actually got a pretty great deal on Google Play of getting all the first seven F&F movies on permanent download for only about £22 or something crazy. I can Chromecast these on to my big screen TV or watch them on my commute. 

So, let’s do this. Let’s dive into the Fast & Furiverse. Salute, mi familia.

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Retromash by Retromash - 1M ago

I obviously quite like nostalgia. I run an 80s nostalgia website after all. I love when I get that warm, fuzzy feeling of nostalgia whenever something triggers a memory from my childhood. They say music and smells are the biggest triggers of memory. I will hopefully be writing a Top Ten Nostalgia Smells post at some point too. But for this post I’m going to be looking at the main songs that instantly give me an injection of nostalgia. I’ll try to pinpoint what memories they trigger too, where possible.

Firstly some honourable mentions that didn’t quite make it into the Top Ten.

Kenny Loggins – Footloose
A classic song from a classic movie. I nearly had Danger Zone too, which appeared in Top Gun. Kenny Loggins obviously liked his movie anthems. But that intro to Footloose really gets me every time.

Midnight Oil – Beds are Burning
This one is maybe the most recent song in the list, being released in 1987. But the memories it evokes are very specific. It instantly transports me back to reading Incredible Hulk comics during the Joe Fixit storyline. Very strange how it’s so specific. I’ve checked and that storyline did indeed run around 1987. I don’t think we owned that song on vinyl or tape so it must have been on the radio at the same time.

John Parr – St Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)
I’ve still never seen the film, but I remember staring at the publicity shot from the film on the cover of the vinyl single that we owned. I love this song and my main memory is sitting on the floor in my bedroom (back when I shared a room with my brother) and listening to this single.

The Eagles – Hotel California
The song Hotel California probably should be in my Top Ten but it’s my all time favourite song and I’ve played it so often over the years that the nostalgia doesn’t shine quite as brightly. The song itself does still evoke very strong memories of a family holiday in France though. I had recently discovered the album Hotel California and absolutely fell in love with the title track, but it was an album from the 70s so I was just discovering it after the fact. But about two weeks later we had a holiday in France and for some reason it must have been re-released in France or something because it was constantly on the radio over there. Very bizarre and serendipitous but it helped to cement it in my favourites list anyway. Listening to the rest of the album totally transports me back to looking at White Dwarf magazine and Citadel Miniatures paint guides and occasionally trying to paint the miniatures myself.

Now onto the proper Top Ten.

10. Harold Faltermeyer – Axel F

You can’t get more 80s than Axel F. Those opening notes and the main riff are just absolutely iconic of the 1980s. I never totally loved the whole of the song, but that intro is incredible. It immediately transports me back to watching Beverly Hills Cop, a film that I love. For some reason it also really makes me think of Miami Vice too, even though that was by Jan Hammer. I guess it’s just the whole synth vibe.

Harold Faltermeyer - Axel F (1984) Beverly Hills Cop - Soundtrack - YouTube
9. Bon Jovi – Livin on a Prayer

This one was in danger of not being in my list at all, because it’s such a mainstream song that I’ve heard and played so much over the years. But that intro still instantly takes me back to one of my friends’ houses where a bunch of us went for an overnight party when we were about 10 years old and played it on repeat, screaming our heads off until we all lost our voices.

Bon Jovi - Livin' On A Prayer - YouTube
8. Toni Basil – Mickey

This song was maybe slightly more on my radar than everyone else, because my name was Michael. Friends kept joking it was about me. So it kind of just evokes a memory of that whole period in school, although I do seem to particularly remember her appearing on a Saturday morning show like No.73 or something.

Toni Basil "Hey Mickey" Official Music Video - YouTube
7. Bonnie Tyler – Holding Out For A Hero

This song really is just amazing. I’m not ashamed to say it. It’s incredible. I remember seeing it used as the intro theme for the TV show Cover Up. I don’t think I ever watched a full episode of that show but I remember thinking that the song was a total perfect fit for the title sequence. Again I had this on vinyl single growing up, so one of the main memories I have is off the cover image of Bonnie Tyler. Another song from the soundtrack to Footloose.

Bonnie Tyler - Holding Out For A Hero (Video) - YouTube
6. 99 Red Balloons – Nena

Now we’re getting into the big guns. The big nostalgia triggers. This song by Nena is fantastic. I don’t think it evokes a memory of a particular event or situation but rather just a feeling of my whole childhood. We had this on vinyl single too and the B side was the original German version 99 Luftballons. Brilliant stuff. I was doing some research and it was good to see that Nena made a bit of a comeback in 2018.

Nena 99 Red Balloons Top Of The Pops - YouTube
Nena ‎- 99 Luftballons - YouTube
5. Bruce Springsteen – Dancing in the dark

There are so many good Springsteen songs from this era, but this is the one that triggers the memories. Again, nothing majorly specific, although I do have a very vivid memory of seeing Courtney Cox in the video, years before she became ‘Courtney Cox’. But this is another song that just evokes a whole time period of nostalgia to me. 

Bruce Springsteen - Dancing In the Dark - YouTube
4. Billy Joel – Tell Her About It

The Innocent Man album by Billy Joel is one that triggers so many memories. We had a cassette of it that we played in the car every single time we drove to and from my grandparents house on the coast. The whole family would be signing along to every song and we knew all the words and all the backing vocal parts. Fantastic memories. But this song, ’Tell Her About It’, was always my favourite and we owned it as a vinyl single too. Whenever I hear the first few bars of it I find it incredibly difficult to sit still and keep my mouth shut. It’s incredible how such a few notes can have such an emotional effect. It also randomly gives me strong memories of making these Shrinky Dinks.

Billy Joel - Tell Her About It (Official Video) - YouTube
3. Cyndi Lauper – Girls just wanna have fun

I really don’t know why, but the first 3 seconds of this song are HUGELY nostalgic to me. They instantly take me back to a certain period of my childhood. Nothing specific though. I don’t even remember particularly loving this song more than other songs at the time, and yet this intro immediately takes me back, like a time machine. Perhaps it was because it was such a unique sound effect that it really stood out to me.

Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun (Lyrics) - YouTube
2. Queen – Radio Ga Ga

Here’s another one we owned as a vinyl single, so it got played a lot in our house. I think I found the intro quite haunting, in a good way. It was different to most of the light-hearted rock songs that I’d known up until then. This seemed to have a bit more depth to it or something, and even the title of the song itself was curious to a young child. Great song, and I love listening to it as it always transports me back to that time.

Queen - Radio Ga Ga (Official Video) - YouTube
1. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon

For me there was never any doubt what would be my No.1 nostalgia song. This song is of course an 80s classic, and it evokes two main memories for me. One was Boy George’s appearance on an episode of The A-Team, but the main memory I get when I hear the intro to Karma Chameleon is of playing with my He-Man and Skeleton figures. The song was released in 1983 and that’s when I got my He-Man figures, so it makes sense. How manly can a young boy get, eh? Playing with his muscle bound He-Man figures while listening to Culture Club. No, the 80s weren’t homoerotic at all, what are you saying? But again it’s just incredible how a few notes at the start of a song can instantly transport you back to a bygone time.

Culture Club - Karma Chameleon (Official Video) - YouTube

Do you have any particular tracks that give you a massive nostalgia trigger?

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Las Vegas for many people is a place that isn’t just about gambling but it also an intriguing mix of retro old school culture and modern day entertainment. From the days of the rat pack, to modern day gaming and huge shows and events.

The 1950s were a pivotal time for the world. Nations were moving on from the previous decades’ hostilities into an era of optimism and prosperity. This was no more present than in the architecture, arts, fashions and entertainment of the era, still held in such high regard today.

One place that perhaps benefitted most from the new outlook of the world – and the consumer trends that came with it – was Las Vegas. The 1950s was arguably the most influential decade in the history of Las Vegas and saw it transform from a run-of-the-mill gambling resort, to one of the entertainment epicentres of the US.

How Vegas came of age in the 1950s
During the 1950s, Vegas made the first steps to becoming the glitzy and glamourous city we know now. Nowadays, Vegas is known worldwide as the world capital of gambling. But at the start of the 1950s, it was home to just under 25,000 people.

Halfway through the decade, Vegas was posting annual casino revenues of $200 million, which is the equivalent to around $2 billion in modern terms. Gambling is a peculiar industry in that it prospers in times of stagnation and decline and levels out when the wider economy improves.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the American economy was in flux. Sure, it had emerged out of the Great Depression, but it wasn’t stable. Las Vegas defied the odds and went from strength to strength. But how has Vegas’s expansion during that time affected our modern world – and where is its legacy?

Influencing commercial branding and popular culture

Vegas’s influence on the world of gambling can partly be attributed to the designs of their casinos – which introduced the world of glitz and glamour. In the 1950s, the city saw an explosion in the popularity of gambling – and the acceptance of it. This fuelled the need for more gaming establishments to be built, each one more ostentatious than the next.

The early pioneers of casino design in this era paved the way for the future designs of their modern online counterparts – with one operator in particular paying homage to the stylings of the era.

One online operator that’s widely believed to be one of the most unique is 777 online casino, as it’s got a distinctly retro look and feel. Here the game choices and imagery around the colours, fonts and graphics you’d typically have seen on the strip during the decade.

On its homepage, the first thing you’re greeted by when you scroll down is an image of a classic car driving through the desert towards the gambling oasis of Las Vegas – a true nod to 1950s Las Vegas culture. Of course, the site also has all the perks of the modern world too, with high-quality graphics and powerful speeds providing a richer experience for players.

This online casino isn’t alone in tapping into the nostalgia that remains around the 1950s era in popular culture today. Green Book, Revolutionary Road and Julie & Julia are all highly acclaimed films set in this period, strongly reflecting the look and feel of the era.

Retail brands have also used inspiration from the 1950s to help sell products in the modern marketplace. For example, SMEG refrigerators retain an unmistakably retro aesthetic harking back to the dawn of consumerism. While on the surface it looks stylishly old-fashioned, it’s packed with modern-day power and efficiency – again, providing the best of both worlds.

Making the music scene what it is today

Attitudes to gambling in the 1950s were a lot different to what they are today. Of course, opponents to gambling still exist – but back then, the anti-gambling lobby was much bigger and more influential. Pressure groups weren’t afraid of applying pressure to federal and national governments to clamp down on gambling.

Vegas casinos looked to combat this by diversifying their entertainment offerings. Venues started to collaborate with musical behemoths like Sammy Davis Jr, Frank Sinatra and Carol Channing to draw in non-gambling crowds. By the 1960s, the term ‘The Rat Pack’ was affectionately used to describe the aforementioned group of entertainers.

As a result, Las Vegas hosted some of the biggest music concerts in the western world. Casino owners were keen to demonstrate they weren’t only interested in making profits from gambling. They were also committed to bringing musical talents to the city, benefitting the local community and driving tourism.

This created a counter culture, whereby a host of other musical performers descended upon Las Vegas in the hope of boosting their careers and hitting the big time.

The effect of these early musical pioneers can still be seen in Las Vegas today, with a host of musical luminaries playing in the city. Stars like Kanye West, Elton John and Britney Spears have all made appearances in Sin City recently. This foregrounds the lasting appeal of the city as a musical mecca. In fact, you might argue that music stars wouldn’t be performing in arenas today if Vegas hadn’t shown they could sell out its biggest venues in the 1950s.

Bringing the boldest architecture to the world

In the late 19th century, Las Vegas was a barren desert, home to a few brave miners who were seeking fortune for seasonal work. By the 1950s, this sprawling city had truly shaken off that image and developed its own identity.

Taking the attitude of ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’, Las Vegas began to invest in building mimicked world landmarks and monuments. Structures like Caesars Palace, the Colosseum and even replicas of Venice’s canals all sprung up across the city – bringing the globes most famous structures into one place.

Tourists could now simply travel to Las Vegas to have their picture taken by the Pyramids or the Eiffel Tower. These gaudy monuments initially angered many in Europe and across the world, but they laid the foundations for the pastiche architectural styles and influences of modern-day Las Vegas.

The American gambling city is often derided for its ‘tacky’ or ‘gaudy’ appearance, but this is something that Vegas has owned and pioneered. Hotel and casino complexes like the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino – with 30 floors and 7,000 rooms – are the living embodiment of this and are proudly hailed by the city’s locals as a sign of how far Vegas has come.

Rather than shunning this image Las Vegas has sought to own it, build on it and stamp its own cultural identity on it. Today, these copycat structures have become visitor hotspots and find themselves in all the city guides and Top 10 lists.

Summary
The 1950s was a crucial decade in the history of Las Vegas and we have a lot to thank to early pioneers for. They laid the foundations for the modern-day tourist hub that Vegas is now, and for that, the millions of visitors each year should be eternally grateful. Not only that, but the feeling associated with Vegas – the glitz and glam, and the notion that anything is possible – is so strong that it still resonates in popular culture today.

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I’ve always been intrigued by ham radios over the years. I’ve never used one and never know anyone who had one, but I’ve always enjoyed seeing them in movies and TV shows for years. Notable appearances that I can remember include seeing ham radios in Alf, Contact, Phenomenon, I Am Legend and, more recently, Stranger Things.

At present, there are more than 750,000 licensed ham radio operators (hams) in the USA – an increase of nearly 200,000 since the early 90s. Ham radio (also known as amateur radio) has always been seen somewhat as a geeky hobby and became especially popular between 1970 and 2000. Although ham radio has lost some of its hi-tech appeal thanks to the huge amount of smart gadgets entering the markets, it remains an enjoyable and valuable hobby for hundreds of thousands of radio enthusiasts across the world. If you don’t believe that Ham radio is a great hobby, the following three reasons to take up amateur radio might get you more interested.

You could become a local superhero
Ham radios are super-fast and effective when it comes to relaying emergency information to a group of people. While TV news and commercial radio stations have become a lot faster at reporting breaking news than they were in the 80s and 90s, they are still slow when it comes to the reporting of community occurrences. Social media has made it somewhat easier to stay abreast of what is happening in the outside world but is, unfortunately, riddled with misinformation. This is precisely why Ham radio enthusiasts say it is as useful today as it was 50 years ago. If you have a Ham Radio you will be able to catch the latest news directly from people who live near to the action. You will also be able to become a real-life superhero by informing your community of any newsworthy incidents such as car accidents, extreme weather situations, and crime.

It’s a fun skill to have
Once you decide to get involved in amateur radio you can look forward to learning a host of very geeky yet exciting skills. Due to the fact that you can’t legally become an amateur radio operator in the USA unless you are certified and licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. In order to achieve this you will have to brush up your math and physics knowledge as well as delve into the field of electronics a bit. One of the greatest appeals of Ham radio back in the 70s and 80s were the building of kits if you desired a particular type of receiver, transmitter, or transceiver. Although each kit came with its own set of assembly instructions (and still does) it does help if you know your way around a printed circuit board (PCB). Even if you have never held a soldering iron before in your life you may become almost a pro at it after you have been at it for some time. It is also one of those skills that may come in handy later in life as well.

The Ham radio community is awesome
The 80s and 90s brought us a lovely variety of TV shows such as Saved by the Bell, Friends, and Seinfeld that revolved around the friendships of oddballs that shared some mutual interests. Ham radio has always been a very social hobby which is great news for anyone wanting to meet up with like-minded folk. The Ham community has always been a very inviting one that makes any newbies feel right at home. Whereas Hams have always been fond of attending group meet-ups and other social events they can now also meet up via social media.

There is no denying that Ham radio is a superb hobby to learn. Apart from being educational and useful in times of need, you will also have immense fun engaging with fellow hams from across the globe.

Oh, and the final reason to give Ham radios a go is because it will make you feel like a trucker, like Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China. That should be enough reason for anyone.

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