What do you do when you've got a package that needs to be delivered and you're too lazy to do it yourself? You call the transporter. He's Frank Martin, (Jason Statham) an ex-military solider that has what it takes to give James Bond a run for his money. He doesn't use gadgets like agent 007, but instead he uses his skills behind the wheel of his sharp BMW, and his masterful knowledge at martial arts. He is a freelance transporter who always gets the package to its destination safely. Directed by Corey Yuen, The Transporter may just be one of the best marital arts movies this year, easily blanketing the CGI-coated Jackie Chan's Tuxedo.
Back to our hero Frank. You see how good his is at the beginning of the movie, where he helps three bank robbers escape capture in a narrowing chase. He has three rules when doing business. 1-The terms are non-negotiable. Once a deal has been made, nothing can be changed. Rule #1 got the 4th robber killed after Frank said that he will only drive three of them, as those were the terms that were agreed upon. 2-No names. Frank doesn't deal with any names of any party. And 3-the one Frank sweeps under the carpet-never look at the package. He's really strict when it comes to his rules, until he breaks one himself and starts the chain reaction.
On the latest delivery, Frank's car tire gets a flat. When he opens the trunk to take out the spare, he notices the bag is moving. Tempted by either curiosity or the notion to be a gentleman, he allows the person in the bag to have a drink, and then later allows her to take a restroom break later on in the trip. By breaking the rules, he has put himself in a position he never wanted to be in, which I'll describe two paragraphs later.
The Transporter is an action-packed movie with a foreign feel, taking place in southern France starring a British born actor. When Frank isn't talking, he's fighting, doing what ever he can to avoid capture by either the bad guys or the police. The first part of the plot sets up to be a good fast paced action flick. There's a lot of high-speed driving, and a lot of high-speed chasing. One thing that I found interesting was that in most movies, the cops usually crash into each other after missing their suspect. They seem to know how to use the breaks in this movie, although much of the time, metal-to-metal collisions are unavoidable.
The second part of the plot is awful. It completely undercuts the character of Frank. He is supposed to be a secretive agent who works alone getting the job done and immediately cutting the ties off with his clients. But after he opens the package on the latest delivery and finds a live Chinese girl inside, the path that this movie was traveling on immediately proceeds downhill. The girl, Lai (Shu Qi), as we later learn, has a cause and an agenda, and only the Transporter can help her out.
He reluctantly gives into her pleas, only after being double-crossed by the people he was supposed to deliver her to. He seeks revenge on, but also protection from a clan of thugs under the leadership of Wall Street (Matt Schulze). They will stop at no cost to kill both the girl, and Frank. Wall Street and his gang mean business. Everything Frank owns is blown to bits, and has to resort to thievery in order to fight back.
The acting is pretty good from the mostly unfamiliar cast. I'm not familiar with Statham, but I enjoyed his no-nonsense approach to taking care of business. He isn't as vibrant as Vin Diesel, but is about as big as him when he takes his shirt off. He is also more resourceful, taking advantage of whatever he can get his hands on to fend off his attackers.
But the characters are very thin. You don't know anything about Frank, except that he was once in the military, and that fact may just be the explanation as to why he is so good at his job. There's no real motive as to why Wall Street wanted Frank dead in the first place. He opened the package, but doesn't seem like a reason to fear him. If in fact they didn't try to kill him, there would be no movie. Frank would have no reason to go after them.
There are shoot-outs, but you see more rockets fly than bullets. And ranking higher than both of those is the hand-to-hand combat fighting. It gets a little silly at times. The bad guys wait there turn, attacking Frank one at a time. There is also plenty of other opportunities to take Frank out. When he is sliding on the floor, although fast, it shouldn't be something that a machine gun can't handle.
But it's more fun than anything else. The ending is predictable and nothing to write home about. But you really can't do much to this type of plot in terms of twisting it, except enjoy it until it's over. With Die Another Day coming out soon, there is still a demand for Bondish films. The Transporter is defiantly different, and unlike XXX, utilizes choreography over special effects.
The Transporter is a good movie for people wanting to explore the talents of unfamiliar actors, as well as who want to see a good martial arts flick that utilizes the least amount of special affects by the punch line. I'll wind up seeing The Transporter again for the exciting combat scenes, and I will also be looking more closely at the rising Jason Statham. Remember that name when you need a driver.