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Jason Statham kick started his movie career with Guy Richie’s hit film Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and since then things have been looking better and better for him. Not only has he starred in Richie’s followup movie Snatch but he has also broken into Hollywood with supporting roles in Ghosts of Mars and The One. Now comes Statham’s big break with a leading role in The Transporter, produced by none other than action-movie mogul Luc Besson. Does he have what it takes to be the next Hollywood star? Read on…

Transporter, The
Ex military man Frank Martin (Statham) will transport anything for you on one condition – that you don’t change the deal. He is a man as precise as the car that he drives; a disciplined and well-oiled machine that will take anything from here to there for the right price.  He is a professional at what he does, and it shows. Living in a nice house on the French Riviera, he spends much of his spare time relaxing and tuning his BMW Sedan to perfection. He is able to do this in peace because he adheres to three strict rules: 1. Once the deal is negotiated, it cannot be changed. 2. No names. 3. Never open the package.
These rules have ensured him a relatively peaceful life, albeit under the watchful eye of police inspector Tarconi played by French actor Francois Berleand. However, things are about to take a turn for the worse when he agrees to transport a package for some rather suspicious looking gentlemen. Mid way through delivery Frank notices something rather unusual with the package – movement. Against his better judgement and breaking rule three, Frank decides to open the package and discovers a beautiful young woman bound and gagged inside. Unfortunately for Frank, breaking the rules comes with a big container load of danger and now Frank must engage in a non-stop, action packed fight to save his precious cargo – and his life.

Transporter, The
So what’s the verdict? If you’ve seen the theatrical trailer for the film then you’ve probably already passed your judgement on this one – I know I did. Littered with bad acting and questionable action sequences The Transporter has all the ingredients of a very bad film. That’s also precisely why I’m sitting in my chair right now with a puzzled look upon my face – as the film is one and a half hours of mindless entertainment! The makers of the film have obviously kept tongue firmly in cheek throughout and that’s the reason it works so well. Right from the start we see a ridiculous car chase complete with comical villains and witty one-liners from Statham. All in all, if you’re looking for an entertaining film that wastes a couple of hours on a lazy weekend, The Transporter is almost certainly the film for you.

The film isn’t without its problems though. First and foremost the cast is generally made up of unknowns, and it shows. Although a fair bit of the questionable acting adds to the charm of the film, in some places it becomes a little too much and does become rather distracting. Still, there’s plenty of good acting going on too (albeit in a slightly camp way!). Jason Statham proves that Lock Stock and Snatch weren’t flukes and puts in a pretty decent performance as the ex military man, despite juggling a rather dodgy New York accent. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the near future. The ‘by the books’ bad guy played by Fast and the Furious’ Matt Schulze is also rather entertaining. He pulls just the right amount of ‘nasty man’ facial expressions to be convincing and plays off Statham well. All in all we have a mixed bag performance wise but does it really matter? It is an action movie after all and they aren’t renowned for Oscar winning performances! The only other problem I feel I should pickup on is the pacing. Initially the film almost flies off the rails at breakneck speed only to slow down to a crawl about an hour in. A minor issue though as the film is only 92 minutes in length anyway so things soon get going again.

Transporter, The
The Transporter arrives on a shiny new region one disc with a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on the one side and one of those horrible pan and scan disgraces on the other. Luckily for us, the transfer is near reference quality with razor sharp imagery as well as excellent clarity and colouring. Particularly impressive is how well the darker colours have come off. The transfers on many discs come apart in darker scenes, however The Transporter holds strong with no visible grain or picture artefacts present. Hats off to Fox for this one.

As well as a great transfer, Fox have also put together a pretty impressive soundtrack. We may not have any DTS to sit back and listen to but who cares when a Dolby Digital 5.1 track is produced as well as this. Everything about this track screams volume with the rears being used to great effect in particular. The movie itself carries a pretty energetic selection of hip-hop and R&B songs and these will really get that sub working! Luckily though all this bass action won’t distract from the film, as speech throughout is clear and concise. Again, great work Fox!

The movie wasn’t a huge success theatrically and this is reflected by the disc it receives. Still, not a bad selection is included and starting things off is an audio commentary with actor Jason Statham and producer Steven Chasman. It’s a pretty informal commentary on the whole; one of the first things that’s pointed out by Statham is that the producer is nibbling on a bagel. From then on the commentary mainly consists of Statham reflecting on his work in the film. If you’re expecting a technical analysis of the film you’ll be sorely disappointed. Still, for fans of the more informal commentaries like myself you’ll probably be pretty content with this one.

Transporter, The
The next feature included on the disc is a series of three extended fight sequences which come with optional commentary from Jason Statham, producer Steven Chasman and director Cory Yuen. I should point out that the Cory Yuen input is via a translator speaking on his behalf. The sequences themselves are entitled Wall Street’s House, Container Fight and Bus Station/Oil Fight. Each of these contains scenes of a more graphic nature and were deemed too violent for the PG-13 rating. It’s a shame really as some real gems have been removed from the film, particularly during the Bus Station scene in which Statham stabs a variety of thugs in a variety of different places! Nevertheless this is still a welcome addition to the disc and runs to a little under fifteen minutes in total.

To access the second set of features you have to flip over to the fullscreen side of the disc (boo hiss!). Included here is a Making Of featurette and the films theatrical trailer. The featurette runs to a little under twelve minutes and features interviews interspersed with short clips from the movie. The interviews primarily discuss how the film originally came about and the film locations though they also delve into difficulties Shu Qi had with learning English and the like. Overall, a pretty bog standard feature but still a welcome addition. Completing the package is the films theatrical trailer. The trailer runs to around a minute and thirty seconds and is presented in widescreen. Interestingly the trailer also includes a few scenes not in the final cut. Most noticeably a rather far-fetched shot in which Statham deflects the path of a missile with a tray!

Transporter, The
Despite every bone in my body telling me that I should hate The Transporter – I can’t help but be entertained by the films slightly bizarre take on reality. This is an action film and thankfully there isn’t a shortage of it with some great Kung Fu style moves from Statham and enough explosions to keep the destructive people happy like myself. The disc is no slouch either with a reference quality transfer and a pumping soundtrack. Overall, providing you don’t go in expecting an intelligent couple of hours you’ll almost certainly be entertained!