After Rob Cohen's smash hit The Fast and the Furious debuted in the summer of 2001 to respectable box office returns, it was no surprise that a sequel followed a couple of years later in the form of John Singleton's 2 Fast 2 Furious
in 2003. Although Vin Diesel did not return as the film's leading man, the late Paul Walker reprised his role as Brian O'Conner and the film went on to make over $236 million against its $76 million budget.
The first film in the series had been passed uncut in the UK with a 15 rating, mainly for its depiction of illegal street racing but also for its strong language, moderate action and violence. In the US, the MPAA had passed the film with a PG-13
rating after some minor cuts to violence, and this version went on to become the standard version released throughout the world.
Cut for an MPAA PG-13 rating
For the release of 2 Fast 2 Furious, the distributors UIP also had to make some minor cuts to violence to appease the MPAA, with particular regards to a sequence where O'Conner and Roman (played by Tyrese Gibson) repeatedly assault a man whilst
he is down and dazed. Three kicks were removed from this scene and a PG-13 rating was awarded.
Cut for a BBFC 12A rating
This PG-13 version (which became the standard version released throughout the world) was later submitted to the BBFC in the UK for a theatrical certificate with a request for a 12A rating.
Cut Scenes: A good kicking
The Board took issue with the granting of 12A, with the aforementioned assault in Reel 6 cited as being problematic. In order for UIP to receive its desired 12A rating, the BBFC demanded:
As Brian and bald headed man struggle on ground by car, after Roman delivers one kick and one punch to bald headed man to release his hold on Brian, remove all sight of subsequent violence and spitting as the two heroes stand over the prone
man. The cuts should therefore remove 2 kicks, a spit, a stamp and the final kick.
The distributors duly complied, and removed the offending footage. An exclusive shot was utilized in the UK version of O'Conner holstering his weapon; a shot that was used to bridge the gap left by the BBFC cuts.
2 Fast 2 Furious was seen again by the BBFC in its specially-prepared UK version and was passed 12A on June 11th 2003 after 11 seconds of cuts; five days after its premiere in the United States. The BBFC consumer advice which accompanied the film
stated that the film:
Contains moderate violence and street racing.
BBFC reports on excessive violence and concerns about glamourising street racing
The BBFC's 2003 annual report later commented on the film's content in detail, with the Board remarking:
At '12A'/'12' the Board strives to ensure that presentations of violence are in keeping with what most adults would consider appropriate for young adolescents. Excessive use of violence was an issue in the film 2 Fast 2 Furious. The work
contained a scene in which the two 'heroes' corner the 'villain' and proceed to stamp and spit on him after he has been subdued. This was judged to be beyond what is acceptable at this level and was cut to achieve the '12A'.
The 2003 annual report also discusses the viewing of the film by members of the Advisory Panel on Children's Viewing. In the BBFC's own words, the members of the panel:
... represent a range of disciplines including social work, clinical psychology and psychotherapy, education, the law and children's media and so are able to advise the Board on a wide range of issues relating to classifying films for children.
Their thrice-yearly meetings provide the Board with a useful sounding board against which to test classification decisions and debate specific policy issues.
One of the film's key classification issues, the street racing theme, was discussed at length with the panel, with the BBFC noting:
Some members were concerned that the glamorisation of rule breaking and illegal activity, combined with the loud and exciting soundtrack, would make the activity appealing to young people. It was suggested, on the other hand, that the film was
no more problematic than some television programmes featuring illegal road behaviour. The Panel doubted whether the film was more likely to promote dangerous and emulative behaviour than the car chases in most Bond films. In these circumstances,
the '12A' rating given to the film was acceptable to most Panel members.
Cut for a 12 rating on 2003 DVD
2 Fast 2 Furious was submitted to the BBFC again in the summer of 2003 for an initial DVD classification. As per its original UK theatrical submission, the distributors submitted the PG-13 version for a rating. It would be another year before the
BBFC introduced their policy of allowing both cut- and uncut versions of the same film to be released simultaneously, so the Board demanded the same cuts for a 12 rating as per the UK cinema version, noting on their website that:
Cuts made in order to make the work suitable for the audience established by the similarly cut cinema version, in accordance with BBFC policy.
The distributors cut the film once more and 2 Fast 2 Furious was passed 12 for a DVD release after 12 seconds of cuts on August 29 th 2003. However, UK law requires that all video content on home video releases be classified by the BBFC. This
includes audio commentaries and any special features, which are classified as standalone works. The 2 Fast 2 Furious DVD included some deleted scenes as part of its special features package, and one of these scenes was the original, uncut version
of the kicking scene, which contained not only the footage missing from the UK cinema version but the three blows removed from the scene for the MPAA. Naturally, given that this footage restored shots missing from the cut cinema version, the BBFC
demanded cuts to the deleted scenes, noting in their records that:
Compulsory cuts required to reduce the violence of the two heroes in one scene by removing kicks, a stamp and a spit, all delivered to a prone man for 12 in line with the Video Recordings Act 1984, BBFC Guidelines and Policy which does not allow
for restoration of potentially harmful violent material which has previously been removed from feature works.
In the end, the distributors realised that cuts would render the novelty of this extended scene superfluous, so they elected to remove the entire scene from the deleted scenes compilation altogether, including the final copyright notice. The
deleted scenes were then passed 12 by the BBFC on August 8th 2003 after 37 seconds of cuts. Ironically, despite changes having being made to the main feature and the extras package to attain a 12 rating, the DVD that was ultimately released in
the UK carried a 15 rating due to the inclusion of an audio commentary, which was passed on September 12th 2003.
Uncut and 15 rated on 2006 DVD
2 Fast 2 Furious was submitted to the BBFC again in 2006 for a new video classification and once again the PG-13 version was submitted. BBFC policy now permitted the simultaneous availability of cut- and uncut versions on the market and the film
was passed uncut with a 15 rating on November 28th 2006, with the BBFC noting that the film:
Contains strong violence.
This 15 version is available on Blu-ray in the UK and restores all of the original UK cinema- and DVD cuts. It may be worth noting that the UK Blu-ray release features the incorrect consumer advice on the rear of the package that refers to the
cut 12 version, but rest assured that the film itself is the correct 15 version.
Cutting Edge Video, Season Three, Episode 43: 2 Fast 2 Furious
Now in High Definition
All articles are original works compiled by Gavin Salkeld, with occasional help from a small team of researchers. Particular thanks are due to the BBFC for their diligent and helpful explanations of their interventions.