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Overall Rating
3.3

Awesome: 13.48%
Worth A Look36.88%
Average: 22.7%
Pretty Bad: 19.86%
Total Crap: 7.09%

10 reviews, 81 user ratings


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Transporter, The
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by Andrew Howe

"Take me far away from this film."
2 stars

What do you get when you combine an appealing actor with a strong track record, a writer who invariably manages to come up with something a little different, and a director fresh from an extended stint in the frenetic world of Hong Kong action flicks? You get The Transporter, a by-the-numbers actioner that makes me wonder why I ever rated Jason Statham, Luc Besson and Cory Yuen so highly.

A recent news report suggests Besson is considering collaborating with Sylvester Stallone on a future script, and his efforts here cast further doubt on his sanity. Besson and co-writer Robert Mark Kamen are no slouches at the typewriter (their credits include the inventive and atmospheric The Fifth Element and the cheerfully amoral Leon), and I can only imagine they viewed The Transporter as a freewheeling, semi-satirical holiday from worthy but draining projects. This is why I can summarise the plot in the following two lines:

Hired hand Frank Martin (Statham) rescues the resourceful Lai (Shu Qi) from the clutches of a slave trader named Wall Street (Matt Schulze), and spends the next sixty minutes dealing with the poorly aimed bullets, inept goons and exploding scenery that litter the road to an inevitable showdown with Mr. Street and his left and right-hand men. He wins.

OK, so I could probably pull a similar stunt on Besson’s other scripts (dopey hit man helps prepubescent vamp take out the guys who killed her family), but The Transporter fails to rise above its simplistic origins. If you’re going to hang your hat on a narrative that consists of nothing more than a flimsy excuse for violence you’d better have enjoyable performances and high-octane action to back it up, and it’s something of a surprise that the film scores so poorly in this area.

Jason Statham excels at making hopeless losers appear strangely attractive (witness his efforts in Ghosts of Mars and Snatch), but Frank Martin is cut from the classic action-hero cloth – he’s self-centred and anally retentive, but he’s definitely not a loser. Statham’s roguish charm is wasted on the role, leaving us with an unflappable Bond clone who loses our support in the first five minutes and never quite gets it back (unless you consider placing your principles above human life to be a desirable quality).

The remaining performances are a mixed bag – Schulze is hamstrung by a villain who’s one of the least-threatening evildoers in action-film history, but veteran French actor François Berleand conspires to make his sympathetic police officer more appealing than the nominal hero. Credit must also be given to Qi, whose comparatively vibrant demeanour livens things up immensely, even if it’s in the service of an annoyingly sassy character who exists for no better reason than to prove that Martin’s a chick magnet and give him a nudge in the mayhem department whenever he’s thinking about letting the whole thing lie (which is at least once every ten minutes – the word “justice” has evidently been deleted from his personal dictionary).

Cory Yuen’s something of legend on the Hong Kong scene (most notably for his collaborations with Jet Li), but there’s nothing in The Transporter that hasn’t been done better elsewhere. I’ll admit that I’ve never been a fan of chop socky, but if you enjoy watching high-flying heroes beat the crap out of hordes of stuntmen you might find something of interest in the climactic showdown. However, Martin’s failure to cop much of a beating defuses most of the tension (a hero should ideally take a hell of a pounding before he triumphs), and none of the remaining stunts will raise the eyebrows of anyone who’s already seen Ronin and Mad Max 2.

The gunplay is also surprisingly muted – despite Martin’s willingness to engineer a bank robber’s demise early in the piece he’s evidently under the impression that he’s playing the lead role in Terminator 2, evidencing his commitment to reducing the body count by ventilating most of the scumbags in a non-lethal fashion. It’s action-flick lite, and while I suspect Yuen’s hands were tied by the requirement to bring the film in at a PG-13 rating the odd grievous impact wound suggests he could have taken it a little further if he’d possessed the inclination. The script is also notable for failing to serve up the mini-climaxes that are the genre’s stock-in-trade – nothing much actually happens for the first seventy minutes, with minor-league skirmishes and laughable attempts at character building the only things standing between the viewer and a well-earned nap.

Serving up tiresome characters, a reheated narrative and emasculated action sequences is no crime if you’re making a Chuck Norris flick, but to waste the talents of Statham, Besson and Yuen on a film that’s no better than Missing in Action is nothing less than a crying shame. I can appreciate their need for a break from the daily grind now and again, but a trip to Majorca would have been a considerably better investment than taking their siesta on the screen.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6173&reviewer=193
originally posted: 10/13/02 15:36:34
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell transports the thrills to the viewer 4 stars
12/21/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Worth seeing, but only once 3 stars
10/23/09 Rachel Really enjoyed this fast paced movie from start to finish! 5 stars
8/19/08 Shaun Wallner Great Action!! 5 stars
6/18/08 PAUL SHORTT IT'S PROBABLY NOT EASY TO MAKE SUCH A WORTHLESS FILM 2 stars
2/18/08 cdmtx awesome! 5 stars
12/02/07 davidbobo20 screw xXx, this movie is awesome! 5 stars
9/20/07 R.W. Welch C+ actioner has little that's new but moves well. 3 stars
9/30/06 Stanley Thai It's a good action flick. 4 stars
9/26/06 Anthony Feor It can keep up with itself 3 stars
2/18/06 Ronin Yup - Statham great and bad script. Sill nice to watch 4 stars
2/03/06 tony Good in its own way 4 stars
1/12/06 tatum Fun, mindless actioner 4 stars
10/31/05 chris exellent film i loved it 5 stars
10/14/05 Mike Statham great, horrific script, an old B Karate movie done modern. 2 stars
10/12/05 Tom Burns great action. 4 stars
10/10/05 Agent Sands It's fun, but very simplistic and anti-climatic. 4 stars
9/27/05 Indrid Cold Dumb, over-the-top Hong Kong style action movie = good fun. 4 stars
9/20/05 Carolyn Rathburn Another blow everything up and fall for the girl movie, it was great 4 stars
9/15/05 John great concept but pedestrian execution 3 stars
8/23/05 ES This movie has a great start and then devolves into Seagal/Van Damme fight style movie 1 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins A comic masterpiece, too bad it's not a comedy. 3 stars
6/05/05 Charlene Javier What was that about? 1 stars
6/03/05 deadwiz To much lack of story, and really pointless action 3 stars
4/26/05 E-FUNK I imagine this is what gay porn is like... but with less story and acting skills. 1 stars
3/14/05 Ronin Statham is as good actor as any guy picked randomly from the streets.Good montage. BMW rock 4 stars
1/28/05 Charlie Exciting, fast paced action flick! 4 stars
10/14/04 Sandy Great! 4 stars
8/17/04 Dean-o Qi-Chu is lovely. The film is not about plot, it is a demonstration of Sun Zi's Art Of War. 4 stars
8/11/04 Dean Why did she screech so much, it still don't get the kidnap part 4 stars
5/08/04 Stefan Halka Slick, well-choreographed fight scenes could not make up for the weak script the film had. 3 stars
4/17/04 Michael Greenwaldt Awesome action flick! The heck with crap like xXx and Vin Diesel, Statham oozes sex appeal! 4 stars
4/15/04 The More You Know Statham just misses box office success on 1 hand, Bruce Campbell cult status on the other. 4 stars
3/15/04 "Meth Labs" for DUMMIES WOW...Uhhh, WOW?????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
11/15/03 HorrorScribbler Fun but loses all credibility when Statham parachutes onto a moving truck from a cropduster 4 stars
11/09/03 Shane Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ONE OF MY FAV'S NEXT TO "Cowboy Bebop: The Movie" & "Freddy VS. Jason"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/05/03 Lia Aranga Great, I love long car chases 4 stars
8/09/03 Eric Not high art, but packed with tons of great action, Statham's awesome 5 stars
8/04/03 punjab utter pish! 1 stars
6/23/03 David Get sillier as the clock rolls by, Statham's wasted here.... 3 stars
6/16/03 Jason Cowan Good 4 stars
6/13/03 Robin Swados "The Transporter" is one of the best bad movies I've see in years. It's a junk masterpiece! 4 stars
6/02/03 Daniella Great! Awesome! My Favorite! Incredible! 5 stars
6/01/03 Shane Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fucking great to watch, Jason Statham is the next Bruce Willis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/28/03 brentley Parity errors galore, illogical plot events... The fight scenes were ok, tho. 3 stars
5/22/03 Desert Rat Painfully lame!!! 1 stars
5/18/03 Zaharin Hamid aka The Movie Samseng It's like watching MTV while riding a rollercoaster! 4 stars
4/16/03 YES Car chases, martial arts fights, death-defying stunts, The Transporter's tons of fun. 5 stars
4/04/03 Ric Fun action romp, Jason Statham is the next great action star. 5 stars
3/28/03 Jon Killer action romp, but why does the plot for these kinda movies always have to be shit 4 stars
3/17/03 Peter Nice look on Paris. Lots of action, and great picture. A great movie for action fans. 5 stars
12/12/02 Natalie Stonecipher 2nd gratuitously violent film set in France I've seen this week. What kinda trend is this? 1 stars
12/08/02 ADP Action at the ebd was good but a lot of bad acting. Strathma has seen too many kung-fu movi 2 stars
12/04/02 Robin Fletcher ABSOfuckingLUTELY awesome! Statham is our new action star! 5 stars
11/26/02 malcolm great Hong Kong style action featuring white people 4 stars
11/26/02 Jeremy Witteveen Great action flick, if you don't expect too much characterization 4 stars
11/25/02 Ravenous Jason Statham is eye candy and fight choreography was fierce. Plot was non-existent 4 stars
11/10/02 jason wonderful 5 stars
11/09/02 Michael Bolton What a pile of crap, no plot just gay 'karate scenes' what a piece of shit. 1 stars
11/05/02 Tyler Rowe Wicked movie, thought it was great. Great stunts and karate scenes. 5 stars
11/05/02 Michael Buehler Wretched-An excuse to cram as much low rent choreographed violence into a movie as possible 1 stars
11/04/02 Anarchy Azmi barely average movie....at least its better xXx....which was completely gay 3 stars
11/01/02 F.E. The most fun I've had in a movie for a while! 5 stars
10/31/02 SGR Fights at about half the speed of Jet Li and has none of Jackie Chan's finesse 2 stars
10/29/02 Jason Statham Best Film ever 1 stars
10/27/02 Mr. Hat Jason Statham is cool, but not quite as much in this unrealistic action flick 3 stars
10/20/02 Jamer 1/3 Jackie Chan, 1/3 James Bond, 1/3 Hitman (videogame series). Good flick. 4 stars
10/20/02 The Bomb 69 white knuckle action with a decent script 5 stars
10/19/02 nick2k first half was fucking good...but what the hell happened to the script afterwards?!? 3 stars
10/16/02 wintermute The fighting was top notch and the bicycle pedals were truly original 4 stars
10/15/02 Interrog8 Loses touch with it's story, but the action keeps it going. Delivers where xXx couldn't. 4 stars
10/14/02 Uncle Salty We're not talking shakespear here, but it sure kicks XXX's ass. 4 stars
10/14/02 Matt Senne The best, worst, funniest movie ever. 5 stars
10/14/02 Chancey Sugarpants Not as dumb as I expected. It's fun, but didn't make me feel like a moron for watching it. 4 stars
10/14/02 Jiz Started as an original/cool action flick, half-way through turned into boring generic shit 3 stars
10/13/02 King Richard As long as you sit back and enjoy the show, and don't think at all, this flick is alright 4 stars
10/13/02 "Yes the shit." Good entertainment to sneak into. Or the 3 AM is a good idea. 3 stars
10/12/02 crashdavis This movie sucks all ass. Wait for it at 3am on HBO 9. 1 stars
10/12/02 syrius yeah, the script was bad, but the action more than makes up for it 4 stars
10/05/02 Buddha The dialogue was pretty damn hokey, but it's a fun ride. 4 stars
10/04/02 Zaw Good chaseing around europe small towns. I wish there were more chasing scences. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Oct-2002 (PG-13)
  DVD: 23-Aug-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  31-Oct-2002 (M)


Directed by
  Corey Yuen

Written by
  Luc Besson

Cast
  Jason Statham
  Qi Shu
  Matt Schulze
  François Berléand
  Ric Young
  Doug Rand



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