1 item from 2002
Set in the south of France and co-written by producer Luc Besson, Fox's "The Transporter" is such a silly slugfest that no amount of surly attitude can hide its skeletal plot or stand in for satisfying characterizations.
A partly successful vehicle for leads Jason Statham ("The One") and Shu Qi ("Visible Secret") -- she provides a few laughs, while he personifies the generation X entrepreneur -- but utterly crude in its storytelling, the wide release should go quietly and make only slightly more noise in ancillary bouts.
Directed with joyless efficiency by Hong Kong filmmaker and martial arts choreographer Cory Yuen, "Transporter" focuses mostly on superjock loner and former soldier Frank Martin (Statham), who has a made a success of driving anywhere for anybody to deliver anything -- just as long as he's paid and his three rules are followed.
The repeated recitation of the rules, the consequences of breaking them and Martin's simplistic approach to everything is supposed to be funny after a while, but it's more like the screenwriters had one inspiration that the target audience -- guys who've had a beer (or six) before the movie -- is supposed to rally around.
Likewise, we first see Shu's character as a kidnap victim with tape over her mouth and stuffed in a trunk. For many more minutes, the off-color joke is how Frank regrets opening the "package" and continues to keep the tape over her mouth and evens ties a rope to her when she needs to relieve herself.
After an opening sequence showing Frank driving robbers to safety -- during which the breaking of a rule leads to the cold-blooded shooting of one of the blokes -- a phone call sends him off to a new gig. Pretending to be "retired" but visited frequently by a French lawman (Francois Berleand), who is friendly, respectful of his manly solitude and suspicious he's up to something, Frank is a reluctant fighter but hardly a model humanitarian.
His new job is to transport a bag for bad boy Wall Street (Matt Schulze), and the vibes are not good. On the road, he gets a flat and discovers the bag in his trunk has a living body in it. Soon, Frank is struggling with his better angels but still drops off Lai (Shu) intact. His car and house are then blown to bits, and he's on the run again with Lai, whose father, played by Ric Young ("The Last Emperor"), is in cahoots with Wall Street in illegally importing Chinese immigrants in shipping containers.
Almost arbitrary in its details and soullessly indulging in romance when Lai offers to make up for all the trouble she's caused him with a spontaneous seduction, "Transporter" comes down to Frank's trying to save the girl and stop the bad guys by pulling off an impossible skydiving stunt as well as lots of two-fisted, whirly footed fights that Yuen presents with no special flair.
20th Century Fox
A Europacorp production
Director: Cory Yuen
Screenwriters: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Producers: Luc Besson, Steven Chasman
Director of photography: Pierre Morel
Production designer: Hugues Tissandier
Editor: Nicolas Trembasiewicz
Music: Stanley Clarke
Casting: Nathalie Cheron
Frank Martin: Jason Statham
Lai: Shu Qi
Wall Street: Matt Schulze
Tarconi: Francois Berleand
Mr. Kwai: Ric Young
Leader: Doug Rand
Boss: Didier Saint Melin
Running time -- 92 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
1 item from 2002
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