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The action gets more furious for Dwayne Johnson in Hobbs & Shaw

Stars Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham team up for Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw

After eight films that have amassed almost US$5 billion (S$6.8b) worldwide, the Fast & Furious franchise now features its first stand-alone vehicle as Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprise their roles as Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw respectively in Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw.

Directed by David Leitch (Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde), it opens here tomorrow.

Ever since hulking lawman Hobbs, a loyal agent of America's Diplomatic Security Service, and lawless outcast Shaw, a former British military elite operative, first faced off in 2015's Furious 7, the duo have swapped smack talk and body blows as they've tried to take each other down.

But when cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton (Idris Elba) gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever, these two sworn enemies will have to team up to bring down the only guy who might be badder than themselves.

Hobbs & Shaw blasts open a new door in the Fast universe as it hurtles action across the globe, from Los Angeles to London and from the toxic wasteland of Chernobyl to the lush beauty of Samoa.

Here, US actor Johnson, 47, talks about how the spin-off ties in with the series, showcasing his Samoan culture and fighting on screen.

On the Fast & Furious spirit

We felt that with Hobbs & Shaw, let's raise the bar and make sure that it had the elements - the big, insane, gravity-defying action set pieces. Because in every Fast & Furious movie, you have to defy gravity every once in a while.

That was very important to us to make sure we had the spirit of a Fast & Furious movie, and also the element of the F word, as I like to say, family.

In Hobbs & Shaw, we all believe deeply in family and the power of family and the importance of trust in family and always taking care of family, so that lives and breathes in our DNA just as human beings.

On building the ultimate bad guy

We had an opportunity to build the baddest bad guy the Fast & Furious franchise has ever seen, one that can wipe out our heroes.

It automatically put us in a framework of jeopardy. And you know, this has just been how I've built my career over the years. Even in wrestling, I would laugh and joke now, but I've lost more than I won in wrestling. And I was always better when I was vulnerable and getting my ass kicked and I love being in that position.

On having an opportunity to showcase his Samoan culture

Hobbs has always been a personal character for me because so much of Hobbs and his DNA comes and derives from just me, who I am as a human being and just as a man. But Hobbs & Shaw is a deeply personal film as we were able to showcase one of my cultures on the big screen.

I was able to do that in the past with Moana (2016), and it was our way of really showcasing our Polynesian culture. I was very proud of that movie and the story we told.

But in terms of live action, this was an opportunity that comes around once in a lifetime if you're lucky. I'm half black and half Samoan. I'm very proud of who I am and what I am.

On the fight scenes

I have waited my entire career to have fight scenes like these, that are raging, savage and primal and without weapons or guns, just these (gesturing with his hands), in modern day.

I found such joy in the action sequences and fighting this way - biting somebody's face and trying to break their neck and just using whatever you could.

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