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The Transporter (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

SPECIAL FEATURES: Feature length commentary by Jason Statham and producer Steven Chasman; Making of featurette; Three extended fight scenes with optional commentary.

JASON Statham's film career, thus far, has comprised of two neat turns in Guy Ritchie flicks, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, and a whole host of dire supporting turns in the likes of John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars, Jet Li's The One and, erm, Vinnie Jones' The Mean Machine. So it comes as little surprise, then, to report that I was less than enthused by the prospect of a star vehicle.

Yet The Transporter actually turns Statham into a believable action figure, complete with a suitably trim physique, who is able to mix it with the bad guys as well as, if not better than, the likes of Vin Diesel and Ben Affleck.

Much of the credit for this goes to producer, Luc Besson, and fight choreographer, Cory Yuen, who have crafted some fairly head-spinning action sequences, the type of which help to mask the sheer stupidity of everything else on show.

For while The Transporter will undoubtedly appeal to the action junkies out there, it should be avoided by just about everyone else, as the rest of the proceedings have to rate among the most moronic in recent memory.

Statham stars as ex-Special Forces operative, Frank Martin, who has carved out a nice line for himself in transporting goods, no questions asked, around the picturesque French Mediterranean. He lives his life by three simple rules - never change the deal; no names (to avoid finding out who he is working for), and never look in the package.

Of course, the hardman with a heart of gold breaks his own rules - he would rather knee-cap someone than kill them - and eventually takes a peek, provoking the wrath of a bunch of trigger-happy villains and turning his life upside down as a result.

The package in question takes the shapely form of Shu Qi's Lai (a veteran of some 45 movies in six years, no less) and it isn't long before the pair are exchanging soppy glances and generally running for their lives.

But enough about the plot; it's the action that counts - and it has to. Beginning with a neat car chase around the windy streets of Nice - Statham was actually a former member of the British national driving squad for 10 years, but still uses a double for most of these scenes - the film then takes in fight scenes galore, before culminating in the type of lorry chase that James Bond set the benchmark for in Licence To Kill.

Highlights include a particularly robust game of 'knock, knock' and a slick fight sequence in a pool of oil that really does impress with its audacity - but when the fighting stops, the talking starts and the trouble really begins.

The Transporter boasts a truly appalling script and is backed up by an equally horrendous soundtrack; so while it looks terrific and bears all the hallmarks of Besson's visual style, it is found wanting in almost every other department.

Watch it with the sound on mute and you're likely to have more fun - for it is the fight scenes alone that earn it an indielondon 'two' rating.

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