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  The Transporter  

Jason Stratham (the guy) and Shu Qi (the girl) in two stills from The Transporter.
Year: 2002  
Director: Corey Yuen Kwai  
Producer: Luc Besson  
Artistic Dir: Louis Leterrier  
Cast: Jason Stratham, Shu Qi, Francois Berleand, Matt Schulze, Ric Young  
The Skinny: Shu Qi's US debut isn't much of a showcase for one of Asia's top talents, but it's an entertaining, low-tech thrill ride with great action panache. Corey Yuen serves up the action with the requisite style and choreographed flair.  
by Kozo:
      Hot on the heels of Wasabi and Kiss of the Dragon comes The Transporter, producer-director-writer Luc Besson's latest Asian-influenced cinematic spectacular. Like Kiss of the Dragon, The Transporter takes place in France and features mucho unsolicted martial arts sequences. Like Wasabi, The Transporter features a popular Asian ingenue. However, unlike both those films, the primary credited director is an Asian one: Corey Yuen, the guy behind the Fong Sai-Yuk films, Righting Wrongs, and half-a-dozen other Jet Li films.
     Jason Stratham (Snatch, The One) stars as Frank Martin, an ex-special forces soldier who works as a professional deliveryman AKA: a transporter. He has three very strict rules about his profession: never change the agreement, no names, and never open the package. Needless to say, he's about to break all three. While on a routine delivery, he discovers that his package happens to contain Lai (Shu Qi), a young Chinese girl whose story involves smuggled Chinese and the illegal slavery trade.
     However, Frank doesn't really care to get involved in this stuff. That is, until he gets double-crossed by the evil bastards who wanted Lai delivered in the first place. Then, he breaks all the tenets of his profession, sleeps with Lai, and goes kung-fu crazy on the bad guys. He also gets to glower, growl, and act generally grouchy while dispensing cratefuls of whup-ass. Meanwhile, Lai pouts, squeals, screams and does all sorts of damsel-in-distress stuff. Yes, this film is amazingly original.
     Not that originality is expected or even necessary in this sort of cinematic wrecking ball. The Transporter is ninety minutes of stupid fun which should satisfy most audiences expecting a good, dumbed-down time at the movies. The film's action and chase scenes are top-notch, and manage to bring some creativity and surprise to the table. Jason Stratham handles Corey Yuen's action and his gruff character with an enjoyable no-nonsense attitude, and Shu Qi is fantastic cinema scenery. Her command of the English language is obviously quite raw, and her lines of dialogue are god-awful (though that could be said for the rest of the cast, too). Still, her facial expressions and physical acting are extremely endearing. The Transporter is probably beneath her talents, but you could say that about most of her movies - especially if Wong Jing's name is on it.
     The film does hit a wall midway through. The first half of the film is great, efficient fun that also possesses some sense of humor. However, when the second half hits and "plot" occurs, the film begins to grow tired. At least, the action gets picked up a notch, but the continual onslaught of bad guys and the monotonous music make the proceedings seem like a video game. Stage one: fight the bad guys in the garage. Stage two: pilot the parasail. Stage three: drive the truck. Stage four: fight more bad guys. That, plus the decreasing presence of any humor, make the film sputter towards its eventual conclusion. Everything ends where it should, but it's not likely that you'll give a damn once the credits roll.
     But, we should give credit where credit is due. For the action-starved HK Cinema fan, The Transporter is made-to-order junk food which should quiet the cravings. Corey Yuen is a fine action director, and he doesn't disappoint. Likewise, the foreign locations and slick car chases satisfy in a low-tech James Bond sort of way. The Transporter is still light years away from the best Hong Kong had to offer, but it's decent fun that's gratefully unpretentious. (Kozo 2002)
Availability: DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
20th Century Fox Home Video
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen / Pan and Scan
English, French and Spanish Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Audio Commentary, 15 mins. of deleted fight footage, "Making of" featurette

images courtesy of 20th Century Fox Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen