We have now seen the first Vin Diesel-era F&F: The Fast and the Furious. It turns out that Fast and Furious is simply the sequel to this. That would make it much simpler, if we cared about the plot of these things at all.
Paul Walker is a cute guy who is macking on Vin Diesel's sister, trying to get into Diesel's street racing gang, and, ultimately, spying on him for the LAPD/FBI. Vin is a tough, taciturn racer with a hot girlfriend (Michelle Rodriguez!), a loyal team of mechanics and rough necks and the respect of friends and enemies on the street racing circuit.
The "plot" is about Walker's romance with Vin's sister, his self-doubts about betraying his outlaw friends, Vin's nihilist racing philosophy ("One quarter-mile at a time"), some Asian gangsters, etc. But the real action is the racing.
Most of the racing takes place on the streets of LA - Culver City, El Segunda, Long Beach. It's pretty thrilling, not a lot of special effects faking. The edge always goes to the guy who uses nitrous - are NOS systems really so popular in street racing?
I guess I liked the sequel better, but this is a solid F&F movie. And now we've seen them all except 2 Fast 2 Furious. Coming soon.