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Transporter (2002)

by on 2012/01/22

“The deal was this far. No further. The deal is the deal. Rule number one.”

* * * *

Jason Statham (The Mechanic) can wear a baby-blue polo shirt buttoned up to his Adam’s apple and still look menacing.

Let’s take a moment to respect that.

The first in a terrific franchise, The Transporter is a simple movie about a precise man. I like simple movies. I like precise men.

Ex-Special Forces, particular, tidy, loves his car, Frank Martin (Statham) has rules.

He lives by the rules, no compromise. He is a driver. He doesn’t much care what he drives as long as he gets paid.

Written by Luc Besson, the creator of many of my favourite things including La Femme Nikita and Leon: The Professional, The Transporter is based on a familiar idea. Save the princess.

The princess in question here is Lai Kwai (Shu Qui). She is made of fairy dust, bunny fluff and sparkles. Ok, maybe she isn’t …but she’s pretty darn adorable.

Like a feisty little Anime character come to life.

Along the burning European asphalt of the hero’s journey, there is a wise old man. Inspector Tarconi (François Berléand) is charming and French.

There are enemies along the way. Some kick. Some punch. Some have missile launchers. One enemy is American – perhaps explaining all the heavy artillery making its way into Europe. He is named Wall Street (Matt Schulze).

Frank, however,  isn’t your standard hero. He starts out more money-driven rogue.

He slowly evolves, the catalyst is the destruction of his car. You could probably sustain about a five-minute-long debate about whether or not he really wants to save the princess at all. He comes back to pound on the bad guys because they totaled his car, saving her is a bit of an after-thought.

In this movie directed by Corey Yuen and Louis Leterrier, Frank does become a Good Guy eventually.

Along the way, there are some genuinely inventive and just a little bit silly, fight scenes. Jason Statham fights in motor oil, along the side of a 14-wheeler truck and atop some storage containers. He’s great. Great. Great.

In fact, the fight scenes are the real show-stoppers in this film.  Sure, the driving is pretty good too. But there’s something really wonderful about watching Statham dancing along a slick, oil-covered floor wearing only bicycle pedals and dress pants.

Yes, it is brainless, but I am a sucker for a good B-movie battle.

I hope Statham keeps making Transporter movies. And you know, maybe stops making Crank movies. I can but hope.

* * * *

92 minutes

Rated PG-13 for frequent shirtlessness, reckless driving, violence and a whole house in France being blown up real good

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