Been There, Done That

A movie long on style and short on substance.

"The Transporter" would be best described as a "been-there-done-that", with a very small twist of originality and style. This movie manages to entertain only if you are fascinated by inane action and clichéd speeches. It comes off as just another action flick, featuring a few bad guys, one good guy, a helpless female victim, and a lot of stunts.

The one thing, however, that sets "The Transporter" apart from the rest of the movies in its genre is its style - great, fast-paced original stunt work and action scenes, mixed with brilliant camera work and stylish music and character portrayals.

The storyline is fairly simple. Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is a retired Special Forces Agent, who now hires his services out as "transporter" in France. His job is to transport packages for his clients in his technically advanced BMW, his clients being bank robbers and other assorted underworld characters. However, Martin manages to stay out of trouble by strictly adhering to his three basic rules: never change the terms of the deal, never exchange names, and never look at what's inside the package (Statham repeats them enough in the movie to get them stuck in your head for a very long time).

Business is good, and everything goes well, until he breaks his third rule, on a delivery for a client known only as "Wall Street" (Matt Schulze). On opening the bag that he is carrying, he finds a girl named Lai (Shu Qi) who is being smuggled into France. Showing the first traces of his humanitarian side, Martin gives her water to drink and allows her to relieve herself. However, following good business ethics, he sticks to his part of the deal, and delivers her to "Wall Street".

"Wall Street" find outs that Martin opened the package and decides it is now time to teach him a lesson; he gives him a package containing a bomb. Our hero, of course, survives and vows revenge. Along the way, Lai manages to convince Martin to help her out. Frank Martin then becomes the stereotypical one-man army, flexing his muscles and punching the bad guys in order to rescue the smuggled victims.

In my opinion, the direction by Cory Yuen is fairly well done. The movie has a smooth flow, with original action sequences. Yuen’s past work does speak for itself, having choreographed the action in movies such as "Romeo Must Die". The storyline and plot of this movie is quite original in some places, with the rest of it being done a million times. Although overall the movie is pretty well paced, the second half contains too much action for one to sit through without yawning. What manages to keep your attention are the stunts and originality of the fight scenes, which are worth a watch.

The acting is noticeably plastic and cheesy, with not much feel and emotion involved. The one thing, however, that caught my attention, was that even though the acting was quite wooden, most of the actors did manage to portray their characters with a lot of style. The production sets are fairly average, and not much to talk about. The original score, composed by Stanley Clarke, is quite well done, and did merges well with the movie.

If you are in the mood for entertainment which involves a lot of gravity- and reality-defying action, packed with a lot of style, and lacking a lot of intelligence, then "The Transporter" serves as fairly decent entertainment.

This article was first published on 12 Jan 2002.