Vin Diesel vs. Dwayne Johnson: Who won 'Fast Five'?


Image Credit: Jaimie Trueblood

Rocky Balboa vs. Ivan Drago. Al Pacino vs. Robert De Niro. Alien vs. Predator. The multiplex has played host to countless epic grudge matches. This weekend, a new showdown entered the history books. On the stage of Fast Five, we witnessed a fight between two of the last American beefcake action stars. In one corner — wearing white tank-tops and mouthing saintly baritoned aphorisms about the desperate existential necessity of family — stood Vin Diesel. In the opposite corner — modeling tight black Under Armour T-shirts, a government-issue bulletproof vest, and a beard on loan from Evil Spock — stood Dwayne Johnson, the Once and Future Rock. Both men had shaved their hair to the bone, so in their rare moments onscreen together, they resembled a pair of pugnacious Pachycephalosauruses, the mythic creatures that supposedly impressed their dino-maidens by head-butting rivals into oblivion.

In some ways, the two Fast Five opponents could not have been more different. Diesel was born in New York City, grew up as a stage actor, studied creative writing in college, got his big break in a Spielberg movie. Johnson was born in California but spent his adolescence in the Pacific — New Zealand, and then Hawaii. He was a defensive tackle at the University of Miami, a third-generation professional wrestler, a man who became famous wearing little more than a Speedo, a pair of black boots, and a magnificent eyebrow.

But the two had uncannily similar career trajectories. Both emerged at the dawn of the new millennium. In that cultural moment – when Sylvester Stallone was only direct-to-DVD, when Arnold Schwarzenegger retreated into politics, when the sudden onslaught of nerdy Peter Parkers and troubled Jason Bournes made muscular gym junkies look old-fashioned — Johnson and Diesel seemed like the great hope for badass American cinema. That plan failed. Too many Dooms and A Man Aparts and Walking Talls and Chronicles of Riddickses.

So, Plan B. Like aging rockers who seek country-fied resurrection in Nashville, Diesel and Johnson implemented the Kindergarten Cop protocol and tried to become lovable, child-friendly badasses. Diesel did The Pacifier. Johnson did The Game Plan and Tooth Fairy. It was a living. Johnson did some of his best work in cameo form – as “The Rock Obama” on SNL, as the suicidally heroic cop in The Other Guys. He took a return trip to Wrestlemania, a conquering hero who had perhaps not conquered as much as had been expected. Diesel also returned to the franchise that birthed him, but at the time, that success seemed almost like a back-handed compliment – an indication that, at the tender age of 42, Diesel had already reached the retro-nostalgic phase of his career.

Fast Five, then, was a chance for both men to re-assert their action-film credentials. And, when the big fight finally came, we were not disappointed. Diesel took the stage in the middle of a great train robbery, somehow appearing far more muscular than he did a decade ago, in the first Fast & Furious film. Johnson appeared much later, but he sneakily stole the PG-13 film’s lone F-Bomb, proving himself a man not to be trifled with. The pair first sighted each other in the middle of a foot chase through the favelas of Rio. Diesel leapt from one building to the next, and right behind him, Johnson jumped through a window. (That was the first window casualty of the great Diesel/Johnson war; It would not be the last.) Watching the two huge-muscle men execute Olympic-level leaps from rooftop to rooftop, I recalled the stern warning my camp counselors used to tell us about the brown bears who held sway in the forests of Huntington Lake: They don’t run very often, but when they do, they run fast.

Ultimately, this was a slugfest, nothing strategic about it. Johnson tackled Diesel through one wall; Diesel, responding in kind, tackled Johnson through another one. One window was broken, then another one. (Johnson, who was so drenched in sweat throughout Fast Five that certain members of the audience expressed concern about the man’s health, seemed to be attempting to drown his opponent in perspiration.)

The men jump-wrestled through one window and crushed an innocent table, who had only wanted to humbly serve humanity. Johnson’s Fed cronies tried to break up the fight, but he insisted on taking down Diesel himself. (Pride, that tempestuous wench, had taken hold of him.) Diesel gained the upper hand. He had Johnson on the ropes. He lifted up a wrench, prepared to murder his opponent. At the last moment, he relented. Perhaps he realized that the two men were stronger together. Perhaps he envisioned a new world cinematic order, with Diesel and Johnson standing next to each other, oiled-up biceps gleaming in the spotlight.

It was a split decision, then. Fast Five ends with the implication that the fight will continue in the sequel, which let’s pray will be titled Speedy Six. But there remains the court of public opinion. So tell me, beloved fight fans — Who won this year’s big action-movie showdown? Dwayne Johnson or Vin Diesel? Or are we all winners?

For regular updates on the sweet science of summer blockbusterdom, follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

Comments (53 total) Add your comment
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  • therealeverton

    Anyone who ca do the Kung Fu flip up from lying on the floor is a winner for me!

    • Samantha

      Who “won”?
      What are you, 4 years old?

      You’re pathetic, Franich.

      Yes, Fast 5 bought another article on EW. Do you need to be such a loser with the delivery?

      • Heidi

        wow, bitter much?

      • Hannah

        Possibly you’re overly invested in the relative seriousness of this article?

      • ks


      • Ruby

        Why are you replying to therealeverton?

      • Satanixx

        Sam is just cranky waiting for her Gleetard news/recap.

      • Liz Lemon

        Wow. What a grouch. Seriously no sense of humor.

    • HPotter

      Ha! I fight I enjoyed after the showdown between The Rock and Michael Clarke Duncan in the Scorpion king. The winner of course, is the industry.

  • judith rivera

    i think the seen was great two of the best men i could think of head to head i love vin but neighther of them one it was about being true to what you do best

    • Samantha


      We know how intelligent and credible judith is.

      • Jose

        Two b*tchy comments by Samantha within a minute.
        We know how much fun she must be.

      • Lauri

        @Jose – Can you imagine how much fun she must be in bed? Are you scared yet?? LMFAO

      • Mike

        I’m turned on

  • Heidi

    That post was hilarious! so,so funny.

    • Samantha

      Heidi rides donkeys. Sickening.

    • Nicholas

      I get the feeling that Vin Diesel’s ego wouldn’t let The ROCK beat him on screen, even though I doubt Johnson would break a sweat disposing of him in real life.

      • mwa

        so true!!!!

      • LaNayia

        Maybe in a tackle. But the rock looks like beefed up steroids while vin diesel looks more like strong man. Vin is taking the rock OUT! He looks like he would fight dirty!

        Not that I have anything against the rock- except her could’ve taken his shirt off. The man wrestles in nearly a thong and they thought the ladies wouldn’t appreciate the sight of a shirtless d.johnson in army khakis with his gun strapped to his leg doing something macho?

  • Chris

    I kind of want to see them make out. I mean that in the least pervy way possible.

    • Mon


    • Dominic

      I want to see them make out…with me.

  • larry

    Another Fast 5 post? You either gotta be a hit movie or a flop like Scream 4 and Sucker Punch to get this many posts. While EW ignores midlevel films.

    • Samantha

      It’s whichever film buys the space.

      You honestly don’t think EW lets the editors and authors CHOOSE what to cover?



      EW is just a advertising rag.

      Grow up and smell the coffee, you pathetic weasel.

      • Mike

        EW fire you from cleaning the urinals? I’d be bitter too. hugsies!!

      • meg

        how exactly is he the pathetic one when your just sitting behind your computer all day waiting for comments to complain about?

        I mean your just absolutely charming, someone like you is clearly a social butterfly with lots of people to hang out with.

        There is no way your just some sad, bitter girl who just gets mad at everything and feels the need to comment even though her opinion means nothing to no one

        oh an P.S, just cuz you ARE a B*tch, doesn’t mean you can about everything

  • ks

    I vote Vin-Dwyane destroyed the charger in a cowardly way that no dodge shoulc have to suffer!!!!

  • James

    Next title: “Six Speed.”

    • Samantha

      That was horrible.
      Just because you ARE a joke, doesn’t mean that you can make them.

      • Richard

        I admit that is a pretty bad sequel name, but as to your comments throughout this section: Just because you HAVE a vag, doesn’t mean you need to BE a vag.

      • Rich

        You are a muppet

    • Micah

      No. “Furious Six”

  • Mentat83

    Honestly this article was pretty retarded. Talk about a writer that stars at his degree each day and sighs sadly.

  • Renee

    Vin is Fast & Furious…but when Dwayne blew Joaquim de Almieda away at the end (spoiler, sorry) I cheered (and I never clap or cheer in a movie unless its Star Wars)

  • tickles

    Vin Diesel IS Fast and Furious. Who gives a dang if it’s not Shakespeare?
    Having The Rock in this one is a nice little lagniappe but I wouldn’t have been upset if they had cast a different actor. All I really need is Vin Diesel in a wife beater growling dialogue that equates the meaning of life to size of a car’s engine and I am a happy girl!

  • Cam

    Vin Diesel won cause he got that hot girl at the end. Paul Walker won too cause he got Jordana Brewster. Those guys win. Houses on the beach, fancy cars, and hot girls. That’s winning.

  • Danny Mac

    Personally, the Fight between the 2 of them was worth the $10 movie price. This was one of the better action movies I have seen in years. The scene after the credits gave me goosebumps. It was a fantastic movie and I will most certainly see the next one

    • Jenni

      I completely agree! My husband and I saw it twice in theaters – which says quite a bit considering our rare, movie-going rep – and even considered a third time. We decide it will be a definite buy. Thx for your thoughtful post.

  • yeah I said it

    Just happy to see two black men lead a movie that appeals to many races, even if they have have to play down their ethnicities.

    • Lauri

      They aren’t playing down their ethnicities. Vin Diesel is half black and half Italian (white). What would you suggest he do? Pretend he isn’t white? I don’t think he has ever played “down” either race. His character’s race is never discussed in the F&F movies, but his character’s last name is Italian, which is in keeping with his ethnicity in real life. And as for the Rock, he is Samoan and black Nova Scotian. I don’t think he’s playing either race up or down. He has the right to be anything he wants, regardless of whether or not you think he’s doing it “right”. Seriously, what business is it of yours what race they identify as, since I don’t think they have ever identified more with one than the other. Some people need a serious dose of “Mind your own damn business”.

      • Rich

        very good comment Lauri

  • Melody

    It was a good fight and the tension that was built between the characters needed this expression. Ultimately I think the winner is the audience for being entertained…I was entertained throughout the film.

  • reason

    Why do many of you ignore that who’s getting paid are the corporations. Many of youare wasting your time on some issue which isn’t getting you anywhere.Just enjoy the movie and stop playing into what others feel.

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