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Transporter, The

Reviewed By Brian McKay
Posted 10/19/02 08:19:05

"Qi Shu can ride in my trunk any time, but I'd rather watch THE HIRE"
3 stars (Average)

In an obvious attempt to cash in on the short but entertaining BMW films about THE HIRE (Clive Owen), Luc Besson has regurgitated your standard action movie. While it certainly has more gunplay and kung-fu hijinks than the average installment of THE HIRE, it is ultimately less entertaining, despite the likeable leads.

Frank Martin is The Transporter (who, coincidentally, drives a BMW). He is played by Jason Statham, best known for his memorable stints in the films of Guy Ritchie (before Guy started making crappy vehicle films for his ho-bag wife). As an action lead, Statham isn't bad at all. He's got the good looks and chiseled build, and he's definitely got some decent moves. When he's shifting gears, pulling the trigger, or putting his foot into somebody's face, The Transporter is a hell of a good time. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is down time as it trudges through tons of unecessary plot exposition for a rather silly plot.

While the action is good, the rest of the film is just lazy. How many more goddamn times are we going to have this scenario?

Hero is about to get shot. A gun goes off, we think the hero's been hit, but wait! Someone else shot the bad guy! Bad guy looks down, sees blood oozing through shirt, falls over, camera pans over, cue dramatic shot of hero's savior holding gun in trembling hands

Jesus Christ in a Gucci handbag! I am so tired of seeing this in every action/suspense movie ever made. And there are plenty of other cliches and leaps of illogic as well. Like the opening scene, where Martin argues with the bank robbers he is supposed to be transporting away from the scene of the crime. He refuses to take them because the deal was for 3 passengers and there are four of them. After this long (albeit amusing) argument about why he can only take 3 of them because 4 will throw off the fuel to passenger ratio and increase their chances of pursuit, they finally ditch one of the robbers. Of course, by now the cops have had all the time in the world to show up, leading to the very chase that Martin was supposedly trying to avoid. Imagine that.

The main gist of the plot is that Martin is hired to transport a package to a thug known only as "Wall Street" (Matt Schulze, playing the usual pissed-off and coked-out looking villain that he has in his last five films). Along the way, he makes the mistake of violating one of his cardinal rules and looking inside the package. What he finds is a gorgeous, hog-tied asian woman named Li (Qi Shu). After giving Li a sip of juice and a piss-break, he dutifully bundles her back up and delivers her to Wall Street. After all, a deal is a deal.

But when Wall Street tries to off him for his efforts, The Transporter comes back with a vengeance. Beginning with the most memorable door-kicking scene in movie history, he proceeds to shoot, kick, and bludgeon all of Wall Street's men silly. When the main baddie himself is nowhere to be found, he hot-wires a mercedes and takes off - only to find that Li, who escaped in all the chaos, is hitching a ride in the back seat. Against his better judgement, he decides to rescue her and take her back to his place.

Needless to say the rest of the film is Frank and Li dodging bullets and beating up bad guys, while of course finding time to get their freak on along the way. Statham is definitely action hero material, but deserves a better movie to show off his talents in. For those so inclined, he takes his shirt off - a lot (even using it as a weapon in one scene). For the rest of us, we get a little sumthin' sumthin' in the form of Qi Shu. She plays the part with perky effervescence. Okay, so she's not the greatest actress, but hell, just look at her! Sadly, though, she doesn't take off articles of clothing nearly as often as Statham does.

The rest of the cast is completely forgettable, if not downright annoying - like François Berléand as a french cop who can't decide if he wants to arrest Frank or help him, and whose English is so horrid that I could barely understand every fifth word he said.

Drive-In Triple Feature "Get in The Trunk, Bitch" Picks for The Transporter:

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai: Forrest Whitaker is a ghetto hitman who follows the Japanese code of Bushido, or "Path of the Warrior". He also has a penchant for stealing BMW's and other high-end vehicles.

Bullit: Steve McQueen's car chase through San Fran - still the best ever.

Also, check out the series of short films about The Hire at www.bmwfilms.com, and note the similarities.

A fair ammount of shootouts and fisticuffs (including one fight scene in a giant crude slick that vaguely looks like gay oil-wrestling), and some decent chemistry between the leads, make this watchable - once. Unfortunately, the plodding story and anticlimactic ending just feel like grinding gears. If there's one thing in this movie I could watch over and over again, though, it's the scene where Statham kicks the door in on that dude.

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