The Transporter (2002)
June 11, 2020 9:14 PM - Subscribe

Frank Martin, who "transports" packages for unknown clients, is asked to move a package that soon begins moving, and complications arise.

Deep Focus Review: In the realm of cheesy action movies, The Transporter (2002) is a pretty good one. Production value is high. Pace never slows. Running time is short. And it has all that action flick junkies could hope for: impossible stunts, car chases set to thumping music, and elaborately choreographed martial arts fisticuffs—all that, without any pesky character development getting in the way. Jason Statham stars as Frank Martin, fresh off his Guy Richie beginnings in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, but before his days in the abysmal dullness of Crank and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. Frank runs a private delivery service for special needs clients, and by “special needs” I don’t mean they wear adult diapers. In a black souped-up BMW, he drives from Point A to Point B without questioning his cargo, which works well for his largely criminal clientele. A former British Special Forces soldier, he’s since retired with his skills and become a quiet loner, which is a good thing, because it means we don’t have to endure any typical, cringe-inducing action movie one-liners while he lets loose on those unfortunate enough to get in his way.

Roger Ebert: There have been so many virtuoso chase sequences lately that we grow jaded, but this one, with the car bouncing down steps, squeezing through narrow lanes and speeding backward on expressways, is up there with recent French chases like "Ronin" and "The Bourne Identity."


Frank Martin is an intriguing man in the opening scenes, and we think maybe we'll learn something about his harsh code and lonely profession. But no: We get car leaps from bridges onto auto transporters. Parachute drops onto the tops of moving trucks. Grenades, rocket launchers, machine guns (at one point a friendly inspector asks Martin to explain 50,000 spent rounds of ammo).

NYTimes Review

posted by MoonOrb (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Haven't thought of this movie since seeing it. It's another one with a kidnapped Asian young woman?

(I must be thinking of "The Big Hit" as the other one)

I remember this putting Statham on my radar, it was the "Clive Owen and BMW Ads - the Movie" that it was promised to be (or am I thinking of another actor's pre-acting job w/ a car company?).

This isn't the one with the greased concrete floor, is it? Holy cow, that was cool, with Statham gripping with an inexplicable pair of bike clips (?). That was some refined Jacky Chan stuff.

A saltatory progression on hollywood's action movie template evolution.
posted by porpoise at 10:15 PM on June 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is the greased floor set piece one.
Also a nice gag with the doorbell / peephole / flying kick.
The second one has a lovely bit with a fire hose.
posted by bartleby at 12:53 AM on June 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

I remember watching this movie for the first time and being utterly pole-axed at the presence of François Berléand, which is not at all an actor I would associate with action movies. His duo with Jason Statham is still my favorite part of these movies.
posted by snakeling at 1:10 AM on June 12, 2020 [5 favorites]

This is a fun and well-done movie, particularly with the choreographed action scenes which flirt with slapstick.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:30 AM on June 12, 2020

the greased floor bike clips bit was great. was this also the one where statham's stuck under water, so he sucks the air out of the lungs of a dead man? that was a moment!
posted by LegallyBread at 9:20 AM on June 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

No I think it was car tires.

I will have to watch now to double check.
posted by ODiV at 12:14 PM on June 12, 2020

Just rewatched the grease fight scene - he takes a lungful from the perforated (! so there's that) giant goon.
posted by porpoise at 12:57 PM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Jason Statham has a really unique kind of action star charisma. I have no strong desire to watch this movie again, because I'm sure there's quite a lot that would make me go "uhhhhhhhhhhhhh, really?" For example:

It's another one with a kidnapped Asian young woman?

Yeah, it is.

But I remember it having a lot of really creative action sequences, and again Statham has an undeniable type of charisma that works perfectly for this sort of flashy beat-'em-up. So I'll just stick to the memory of this movie in my head.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:57 PM on June 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Just watch his bits from Spy again imo.
posted by ODiV at 1:03 PM on June 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Just just rewatched this, and just finished 2.

re: kidnapped Asian young woman

I was... flippant/ bitter about that comment, but upon rewatch, maybe criticizing more lazy writing than disrespectful writing. She turns out to be a whistleblower and The Driver ends up taking a contract for her with him paying for it.

Thinking a bit more about it, and yeah confirming with myself...

Giant Goon (with giant lungs) taking bullets makes Driver breathing from him more believable. It's like shotgunning a beer. Try sucking one down without a hole punched into the side.

Just finished watching Transport 2, and... it's an unsteady line towards Crank (and Crank 2 - both highly enjoyable films from several angles). Parallel with the Fast/Furious where Statham has a recurring role. I need to watch 'Revolver' again (it's another instance of a really fun Mark Strong supporting role).

They're all enjoyable movies. Perhaps not "good" but enjoyable given a certain mood. Statham fills the roles admirably between athleticism and comedy because he's enjoying acting as a surprise bonus and accepting his fortune gracefully.

He channels a lot of Jackie Chan humility, and that definitely helps his reputation.
posted by porpoise at 11:39 PM on June 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

Just rewatched the grease fight scene - he takes a lungful from the perforated (! so there's that) giant goon.

Yeah, wow!

Finally got a chance to watch it again. What the hell was I thinking of then?

Just googled it, and apparently it was a Bond flick.
posted by ODiV at 7:35 AM on June 26, 2020

There's a bit in the Third one (which also has a fight sequence where he gets progressively undressed, using items of clothing as weapons) where he sips air from his tires, them empties them into underwater-lift baloons to unsink the car. That might be what you're remembering?
posted by bartleby at 10:06 AM on June 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

Probably, thanks! I will now have to watch all of them, obviously.
posted by ODiV at 10:06 AM on June 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

3 is on right now and I don't know why these movies aren't appreciated in the same vein as comic books.
posted by rhizome at 7:08 PM on October 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Statham's very watchable but oof, so much clunky dialogue in this. Also: would really like to know what accent he thinks he's doing?

Fun as the bus station fight was, it felt a little out of place; more slapstick, and a whole lot more obviously Jackie Chan-inspired, than the rest of the movie. I mean c'mon: it has comedy *schlooop* noises Foleyed in every time oily Statham slips out of a goon's grasp.

HBO Max has 2 also, and I guess I'm in.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:50 PM on March 22, 2022

HBO Max now has 3 and, oof, there's a progressive drop-off in quality.

2 is not very good, has some fun fight scenes, but mostly forgets that the transporter should be, y'know, transportin'; and inexplicably set in, I don't even remember, Miami maybe?

3 is not very good, has the transportin' and the European locations back, but has swapped all the humor in the fights for "get Statham shirtless as often as possible."

And, I dunno; all 3 have that Luc Besson-ey sheen of mid-budget Euro action movies trying to look high-budget.

There's a 4th Statham-less one apparently? Was that a failed attempt at a reboot?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:54 PM on May 5, 2022

(Also I feel like Robert Knepper as the villain is 3 very specifically dates it to that couple of years in which he was the breakout star from Prison Break.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:01 AM on May 6, 2022

« Older The X-Files: Schizogeny...   |  Top Chef: Parma... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments