Young but retired Special Forces commando, Frank Martin (Jason Statham) enjoys a precisely organised life as a mercenary delivering mysterious, perhaps dangerous packages of any kind around Europe from his base in the South of France – always strictly by his strict rules of the deal. When he himself breaks the rules and looks inside the latest package, he finds a Chinese girl (Qi Shu), bound and gagged. The discovery leads him on a chase that involves her people-smuggling father and lots of enemies.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Luc Besson’s fascination for writing car chase movies continues here, with some add-ons that give the film an unusual Franco-Hollywood-Die Hard flavour. Sublime locations along the Riviera provide the eye candy, while Jason Statham is an engaging blend of Bruce Willis muscle, attitude & dryness, and Jackie Chan martial arts with mind-snapping inventiveness. He really has it down pat, no matter the holes in the script. But hey, this is the kind of movie you buy for the pictures, not the stories. Spectacular stunts almost rival xXx in both intensity and prolongation, while the premise is strong enough to carry us through to the end. The Transporter is a single, ‘holistic’ vision film which meets expectations (perhaps surpasses them) and does what it sets out to do pretty well. And to add texture, there is a droll French cop (Francois Berleand) whose cinematic lineage can be traced back to Casablanca’s Capt Renault (Claude Reins). Excellent exploitation action.
Review by Louise Keller:
Buckle up and take a thrilling ride in the South of France, where dare-devil action is at odds with the surrounding beauty and historic setting. Unlike recent action heroes like Vin Diesel in xXx, Jason Stratham’s Frank is also a ‘thinking man’, whose magnetism comes from a hypnotic stillness. The Transporter is a riveting 96 minutes of action with gob-smacking, innovative stunts that genuinely amaze. Written specifically for Statham (Lock Stock, The Mean Machine) by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, the film marries explosive martial arts action with some of niftiest driving stunts imaginable. We first meet Frank in a splendid opening sequence that introduces surprise after surprise. What kind of cool crim is this who stops the proceedings in the middle of a heist, refusing to proceed unless the original terms are met. With nerves as cool as ice, this transporter insists on no changes to the original plan when four, not three men tumble into the car. He waits while the panicking, hooded men are forced to resolve the problem. As the sleek, dark BMW negotiates the wildest turns, narrowest streets and dazzles with the most incredible stunts, our hearts literally stop. The acrobatics venture from the roads to the sky to the bottom of the ocean – this is truly a transportation rollercoaster. And what’s so impressive is the fact that Frank doesn’t need traditional weapons to defeat his foes: he uses his own visceral skills in wonderfully choreographed sequences in gymnastics on fast-moving trucks and one of the most memorable scenes when a barrel of spilt oil is used inventively to advantage. Add an exotic beauty, a sympathetic French cop and the combination of script and Corey Yuen’s skilled direction really rocks. Although virtually unknown outside Asia, acatress Shu Qi has made 45 movies in a very short six-year period. She is an enigmatic addition to a terrific cast. Oomphy music, great editing and the extensive stunt team is outstanding. A combination of European sensibility with Asian martial arts plus a dash of English reserve, The Transporter is a rush.
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TRANSPORTER, THE (M15+)
CAST: Jason Statham, Qi Shu, Matt Schulze, François Berléand, Ric Young, Doug Rand, Didier Saint Melin
PRODUCER: Luc Besson, Steve Chasman, David Lai
DIRECTOR: Corey Yuen
SCRIPT: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Pierre Morel
EDITOR: Nicolas Trembasiewicz
MUSIC: Stanley Clarke
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Hugues Tissandier
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 31, 2002
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: May 14, 2003 (Also on DVD)