Ask a woman what she thinks of this hyper-macho series of movies and you might elicit yawns and eye rolls.
Yes, this testosterone fare is not much more than a gaggle of high-octane pissing matches and, indeed, there are fast chicks and faster cars but, ultimately, "The Fast and the Furious" series is all about bromance. These men jump into fistfights more passionately than any of their PG-13 love scenes (with women).
And for every hundred scantily clad, hoochie extras leaning on racecars, there are -- on average -- two strong female characters per film. Love 'em or hate 'em, there wouldn't be five, going on six, of these movies if they weren't cinematic rollercoaster rides. And what girl doesn't enjoy an adrenaline ride once in a while?
With "Fast Five" in theaters this weekend, here's everything you ladies need to know about the franchise.
'The Fast and the Furious' (2001)
Box Office: $142.5 million
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Approval Rating: 52 percent
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez
Token Rapper: Ja Rule as Edwin the horny street racer
Gratuitous Shirtless Action: Lots of bare and tank-topped man meat this episode, with glorious eyefuls of Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Rick Yune
Female Speed Racer: Rodriguez is the reigning HBIC of the series and her Letty is authentically tough -- punching one dude and smoking another in race wars. "You want a piece of ass, go to Hollywood Boulevard. You want an adrenaline rush, that'll be two-large."
Memorable Bangs: One big car explosion and a very impressive stunt sequence with an 18-wheeler in the desert at the film's close
Bromantic Action: This is the most homoerotic episode with the two alpha males, undercover cop Brian O'Conner (Walker) and street racer Dominic Toretto (Diesel), meeting their respective matches. There's even a possessive ex-boyfriend named Vince (Matt Schulze) resenting Brian's closeness to Dom and provoking several catfights. In one scene, Vince actually kisses the back of Dom's bald head. "[Dom] is like gravity. Everything just gets pulled to him, even you," Brewster's character tells Brian.
'2 Fast 2 Furious' (2003)
Box Office: $127.1 million
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Approval Rating: 36 percent
Cast: Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes, Devon Aoki
Token Rapper: Chris "Ludacris" Bridges as street race facilitator Tej
Gratuitous Shirtless Action: For absolutely no reason, Gibson rips his shirt off 34 minutes into the movie. No complaints here.
Female Speed Racer: Suki (Aoki) has an all-girl crew taking care of her, um, bubblegum pink racecar with fuzzy interior. In the name of road rage, Suki spouts some of the most embarrassingly bad dialogue of the series, including: "Bend over boy!" "Move, bitch!" and "Smack that ass!"
Memorable Bangs: The seemingly endless street race includes a break in a bridge for the drivers to jump. An 18-wheeler smashes a racecar and then rolls over it. "2F2F" debuts the first backwards racing stunt of the series. Oh, and then there's the part at the end where they land a racecar on a moving yacht.
Bromantic Action: Welcome to Miami and the most superficial entry of the series (which is saying a lot). It's the cinematic equivalent of MTV's "The Grind," with drivers dressing to match their candy-colored racecars. After leaving the force in the first episode, Brian and his loud-mouth friend Roman Pearce (Gibson) are offered a chance to clear their records if they race for, um, justice. But first, they roll around the ground wrestling for five minutes.
'The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift' (2006)
Box Office: $62.5 million
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Approval Rating: 35 percent
Cast: Lucas Black, Sung Kang, Nathalie Kelley, Brian Tee
Token Rapper: Bow Wow as Twinkie who, not unlike Morgan Freeman in "The Shawshank Redemption," is the guy who can get you Michael Jordan sneakers, iPods and, apparently, an entrance to the underground Tokyo street racing scene
Gratuitous Shirtless Action: No one wants to see the poor man's Paul Walker, aka Lucas Black, without his t-shirt -- not even his love interest Neela kisses him onscreen. Aside from Tee's bulging biceps, the audience is left with a sumo wrestler bearing his swinging udders for comic relief.
Female Speed Racer: Neela (Kelley) definitely knows how to drift, despite her never actually racing in the film. "Boys. All they care about is who has the biggest engines."
Memorable Bangs: Tokyo police don't even bother chasing cars that go 180 kph, which gives this chapter license to finally drop the tired undercover cop plotlines and 18-wheeler heists. You don't even see a handgun until past the hour mark, but there's tons of drifting, backward-speeding, and a tragic explosion after a race through Shibuya's populated streets.
Bromantic Action: "Tokyo Drift" is technically the third of the series, but chronologically this chapter is set far in the future. Sean (Black) is the youngest, most destructive, and least charismatic racer in the series. Male bonding gets deeper and more philosophical between Sean and Han (Kang), who both feel like outsiders. "I have money, it's trust and character I need around me. You know, who you choose to be around you lets you know who you are. One car in exchange for knowing what a man's made of? That's a price I can live with," says fan favorite Han.
'Fast and Furious' (2009)
Box Office: $155 million
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Approval Rating: 27 percent
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez
Token Rapper: Reggaeton stalwarts Tego Calderon and Don Omar join the ride as team members Leo and Santos, respectively.
Gratuitous Shirtless Action: Sadly lacking, as this is the chapter wanting to be "taken more seriously." Boo.
Female Speed Racer: Letty is literally hanging off the back of an 18-wheeler for the riveting opening stunt. And after spending the entire film crying, Mia takes the wheel in the final moments.
Memorable Bangs: The Dominican Republic highway heist is arguably one of the best opening sequences of series. Most of the other stunts were heavily aided with green screen and CG giving the film more of a video game aesthetic. You're half expecting Indiana Jones and a small Asian boy to pass Brian and Dom in a mine car during the underground Mexican border cross scene.
Bromantic Action: It takes a funeral to bring the gang back together in L.A. Diesel's character officially crosses over to superhero "Fonzi" status in this chapter -- throwing Brian against a shelf like the Hulk, breaking two car windows with his elbow, diving into a speeding car; his shotgun shells even flip cars over like missiles. Brian appears very amused at Dom's transition smiling as if to say, "That's my man!"
'Fast Five' (2011)
Box Office: TBD
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Approval Rating: 82 percent (so far)
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson
Token Rapper: Chris "Ludacris" Bridges returns as Tej, the tech head and safecracker of the gang; Tego Calderon and Don Omar are also back as part of the crack team
Gratuitous Shirtless Action: The IMAX screen can barely contain the manliness that is Diesel and Johnson together at last. Even their muscles have muscles!
Female Speed Racer: Mia is integral during the prison break bus sequence and the train heist. Elena (Elsa Pataky) holds her own against Dom as "the only cop in Rio who can’t be bought," and Gisele (Gal Gadot) drifts like a pro and impresses Han in the process.
Memorable Bangs: During the train heist, Brian drives his flatbed truck into the train, jumps into Dom's moving car, and together they drive off a cliff and dive into the river. Apparently in Rio de Janeiro's lawless favelas, if a boy isn't holding a machine gun then he has a rocket launcher. The ridiculous/ridiculously entertaining safe-pulling sequence looked like something Wile E. Coyote would cook up.
Bromantic Action: It takes one last heist to the tune of $100 million to bring the extended gang to Rio. When the two Fonzis (Dom and Hobbs) battle, you haven't seen this much glass and plaster breaking through walls since the Kool-Aid Man. Dom and Brian get closer than ever this chapter while discussing their fathers. "I want another shot," Brian says, "just you and me once and for all."