The Transporter

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The plot in a nutshell
A standard action flick from Luc Besson (he co-wrote and produced), the film follows a fairly generic Besson plot.  A semi-mysterious man, with the ability to kill with a nasty look, meets a young girl and reluctantly saves her not surprisingly attractive behind.

In this case, our anti-hero is Frank Martin, ex-military, now living in France and operating as a 'transporter'.  This is a high paid, fancy version of a delivery boy.  Frank has basic rules - rule 1, never alter the deal; rule 2, no names; and rule 3, never open the package.

Frank breaks rule 3, and as any anal retentive knows, when you break the rules, even a little, everything falls apart.  Frank's package turns out to be Lai, a young Chinese girl, and his content life is turned upside down.  But as all good anti-heroes do, he saves the day, not without a little help from Lai herself.

Relatively Spoiler Free Thoughts
It's been a few weeks since I saw a good, basic action flick, and like any card carrying testosterone tub, I was beginning to go through withdrawal.  This film was the perfect solution - little to no plot to disturb the mindless and often senseless, but always well choreographed, violence and mayhem.

Jason Statham plays Frank, and does so quite convincingly.  If there was any question as to whether this was an action flick, one only has to count the number of minutes Statham spends shirtless.  As a matter of fact, this film has perhaps the most unique and interesting way I've ever seen an action hero loose his shirt in battle.

Statham's other big flicks were Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.  If Hollywood is looking for an action star, please stop casting Vin Diesel and give Statham a second look.  His fighting style is more Jet Li/Jackie Chan than brute force, and he manages to look convincing through some extreme choreography.  The rest of the cast is pretty much filler, with only four other main characters - Lai of course, played by Qi Shu, star of many Hong Kong flicks, Ric Young, a character actor in just about any film involving an Asian (and he should win the Academy Award for worst haircut in this film), the French actor Francoise Berleand who plays a helpful police inspector, and Matt Schulze as the main bad guy, a relative newcomer who's best performance was as Chupa in Blade II.

But Statham does the lion's share of the work, and he proves himself a competent actor.  Too bad the plot is paper thin - it's simply one contrivance after another to thread the action sequences together.  These are very well done though, particularly the long drawn out battle around the buses that involves a lot of grease.

I did find Frank Martin's desire not to kill interesting, particularly since it was pointed out only during the action sequences - and quite obviously there - but never mentioned in any way during dialog.  It's anyone's guess as to why he has an aversion to killing, even those who are trying their best to see him dead.  Perhaps he's really just a lover at heart.

Rating - Rent It
Looking for a film that requires little thought but is lots of fun?  This one will fill the bill.  While the plot might be thin, at least it makes sense (most of the time), and the action sequences are worth the price of admission.  Your female companion may find it less than fulfilling however, but the shots of a shirtless Statham might keep them awake.

Spoiler Laden Thoughts
This is one of those films with really nothing to spoil.  Don't expect any surprises, don't expect any twists.  Even when it looks like there might be a bit of a twist a third of the way in, the train quickly jumps back on the tracks heading for Obviousville.  There is one very interesting scene in which Frank must stop a small convoy of a couple trucks with the bad guys following the trucks.  If that sounds like a scene out of Indiana Jones, you're right.  Remember how Indy rode after them on a white horse?  This time it's a white car, but the entire sequence is so close to that original that one could call it homage rather than rip off.

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