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Transporter, The

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 09/27/02 12:03:59

"Faster and far more furious than Vin Diesel could ever be."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

So what do you get when you mix the martial arts direction of Corey Yuen, the writing of Luc Besson and the chisel-jawed take-no-shit escapades of Jason Statham? You get a pretty damn okay action movie, packed with heart-pounding car chases, just enough explosions and acting that - surprisingly - doesn't stink. It's not the next big thing, but The Transporter is sure as hell a fun ride.

Jason Statham is Frank, an ex jarhead who now makes a good living as a transporter. You need it moved, Frank will move it and guarantee it gets where it needs to be - no questions asked, no surprises. This is a fun gig for Frank while he's playing getaway driver to bank robbers and moving quasi-legal goods from point A to point B, but as soon as he finds one of his packages contains something that is actually trying to escape - an Asian girl with gaffer tape over her mouth - things begin to get a little pear-shaped.

Statham is made for this sort of role. He's big, muscular and exudes cool in a way that Vin Diesel doesn't. He doesn't need to wear designer clothes and skater shoes to get props, he simply does his job, takes no crap, and when the fit hits the shan he takes things into his own capable hands with martial arts nastiness. His turns in Guy Ritchie's Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch were both capable performances and though he likes to take his shirt off in this thing (a lot), he certainly makes a better action hero than most of the daisies who've been foisted on us of late.

Statham's co-star, Qi Shu, a prolific Taiwanese actress (she sppeared in eleven films in 1998 alone) doesn't always fare as well. Tending to be a little screechy, she still offers up moments of sweetness and humor in a film that really pays scant regard to either quality. The Transporter is all about screeching tires, screaming engines, convenient escapes and the good guy getting the girl, and on those counts it mostly achieves what it wants to.

If you've seen The Hire - the series of short films at BMWFilms.com - then you pretty much know what to expect here. Gearheads will get their jollies as Statham's character does things with a BMW that no man should be physically able to do, in fact, no man could do them, but who cares? Suspend that disbelief and picture yourself in the passenger seat.

Where The Transporter does let itself down is in relying too much on a story that is drenched in cliche. The old "oh no, he's going to shoot me, oh thank god someone shot him from behind" routine is played out for the 68,904th time in motion picture history and much of the dialogue runs the gauntlet between hokey and uber-hokey. Likewise, the film really does tend to die off in the last act, which is all the more apparent after such a seat-shuddering opening. Having said that, you'd have to figure that most of those in attendance won't really mind a few cinematic lapses when really the only object here is action, action, action.

The mix of Yuen's action choreography background, Besson's European character flavor and Statham's 'saf london' boulder-sized bollocks comes together to do the job intended just about well enough to satisfy. Certainly, there are areas of the film that could be improved - especially in the area of co-star casting (Qi Shu's father in the film comes across almost like an Asian Wayne Newton) but hey, run this one alongside XXX and count the number of eye-rolls you get from each. I guarantee XXX will win that contest in a canter.

The Transporter is a film to look forward to - not in a Lord of the Rings kind of way, but in an 'Triple X can bite my ass' kind of way. On pure bang for your buck, it delivers well enough to warrant the ticket price and may even surprise a few people at the box office.

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