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The Transporter (PG-13)
20th Century Fox
Official Site
Director: Corey Yuen
Producers: Luc Besson, Steve Chasman
Written by: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Cast: Jason Statham, Qi Shu, Francois Berleand

Rating: out of 5

Expectations are an important part of the movie-watching experience. Does a movie deliver the type and quality of entertainment its marketing promises? The Transporter bills itself as a silly action movie with a distinct Hong Kong feel, and that is exactly what it is.

The movie opens with the transporter, Frank Martin (Statham), on routine assignment in his tricked-out BMW. Frank has three rules to live by:

1. Once the terms are agreed upon they cannot be altered or renegotiated.

2. No names.

3. Never open the package.

Frank takes his job very seriously and is willing to use deadly force to make everyone play by the rules. This may seem harsh, but as long as the rules are followed, the transporter makes a decent living and the cargo is always delivered.

So it is no surprise that the transporter’s regimented lifestyle is rudely interrupted when he breaks his own rule and opens a package, finding a young, attractive girl. Our man is really into his job, so he zips up the package and delivers it faithfully to a fellow who looks so depraved he may as well have “I am the bad guy” tattooed on his forehead. This employer wastes no time in double-crossing him, causing Frank to return with a vengeance. Yes, the transporter and his former cargo team up to fight crime, make love, and avoid arrest by a worldly French policeman, though not in that particular order.

This, despite its European and Hong Kong influences, has the feel of a Hollywood movie. All of the characters are very cookie-cutter. Statham’s transporter is a strong, quiet type, so throughout the movie Statham does his best Bruce Willis impression, adding his own understated mannerisms to the mix. The cargo is your typical damsel in distress, screaming when guns and bullets are on display, then cute, flirty, and sexually aggressive when they are not. The best performance is Berleand’s tired but effective policeman with his own method of dispensing justice. The scenes when he’s on screen are great examples of good acting and character insight within an action movie. No fight movie would be complete without legions of bad guys, and they do quite well here. They shoot crooked bullets and have jaws made of glass.

Jason Statham does all right in his first outing in the world of martial arts films. He is aided by some not inconsiderable time in the gym and the excellent choreography of Corey Yuen (Kiss Of The Dragon, X-Men). The action is kept simple but effective, with Statham using guns, fists, and an oil bath (don’t ask) to combat evil. It is hard to decide if this movie is an homage or artistic laziness on Yuen’s part. The fights are stolen from everything as old-school as Raiders Of The Lost Ark to some of his very own work (Kiss, esp.). Also at time the fights are a little hard to follow, due to some excessive editing, but this may be to conceal Statham’s amateur martial arts skills.

With all these explosions and fistfights, the music was sadly overlooked. The soundtrack goes from passable to terrible and is often intrusive. When the transporter first meets the cargo, we know by convention they are going to get together, but this destiny is even further telegraphed by the happiest music played during the film. It there was any doubt as to the future of these two, the music washes it all away. While it sounds bad, it certainly looks nice, with gentle lighting that would make the most ugly people attractive, and attractive people gorgeous. The city itself is a work of art, with tall beige building and narrow stone roads, all set against the deep blue sky or sea.

This was a good movie, with all of the good points of the action genre—car chases, explosions, martial arts—and none of the bad, like cheesy one-liners, phoned-in performances, or stories that make no sense. It’s as if they distilled the genre to its purest essence. No deep messages or confusing sub-plots haunt this production. And at 90 minutes, the show is over before the concept wears thin and the action never has a chance to slow down. The Transporter is a simple movie with a simple idea—kick ass and have fun. That’s what we’re here for.

—Woodrow Bogucki




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