The Transporter

The one thing The Transporter is sure to do is catapult Jason Statham higher up in the action star food chain. Statham (Mean Machine, The One) was previously more of a supporting character in these types of films, but proves here he can shoot-em up with the best of them. Granted, this is not saying much, since The Transporter is about as mindless and a little more enjoyable than most action films, still it is a nice change of pace. Statham is Frank Martin, an ex-military man who is now a transporter. For a fee, he will transport anything, as long as the clients follow the rules. They must give him exact dimensions and weight of the transport, never provide any names, and he will promise never to look inside the package.

Of course he ignores the rules and discovers Lai (Shu Qi, Beijing Rocks, Visible Secret), a fetching young Chinese woman, inside the package in his trunk. Starting here is what appears to be some sort of attempt at a plot by Luc Besson (Wasabi, Kiss of the Dragon) and Robert Mark Kamen (Kiss of the Dragon, The Fifth Element), but most of it is beside the point. Wall Street (Matt Schulze, Blade 2, The Fast and the Furious), who hired Frank to transport Lai learns he knew, and decides to kill him. This sets in motion a series of action sequences that get increasingly over-the-top. In the end, there is something along the lines of smuggling immigrants in large shipping containers, but nobody cares, since the main reason to see The Transporter is to watch Statham.

And Statham rocks, thanks to director Corey Yuen (So Close, Avenging Fist), an action legend in Hong Kong best known as a choreographer here. The fight scenes and action sequences are kinetic and frantic, and Yuen captures every moment of them with finesse and style. For most of the movie, watching the stunts is enough to hide the lameness of the story. However, like most action movies, Yuen feels the need to escalate things to ridiculous levels as he nears the conclusion. The ending is where The Transporter falls apart, going too far in terms of trying to wow the audience. It just looks dumb. Yuen is at his best when things are simpler, whether it be Statham fighting a bunch of guys in oil or the Frank character coolly driving like a maniac in his black Mercedes.

Statham certainly has the build and attitude of a bona fide action star. The Frank character is one of those guys who prefers to say little if nothing at all, and looks like he reluctantly whoops ass. He would much rather sit at home and read the paper. The entire plot of The Transporter is predicated on Frank disobeying the rules that he so carefully employs. Given the way that Yuen presents his character, this seems too far-fetched. However, if he did obey the rules, then there wouldn't be a movie, would there? Qi is harder to define. Her character does little except whine through duct tape for a good portion of the movie, then when Besson and Kamen try their hand at a plot, Lai, along with everybody else, become muddled.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 32 minutes, Rated PG-13 for violent sequences and some sensuality.

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