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The Transporter

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Transporter

Starring: Jason Statham, Qi Shu
Director: Corey Yuen
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: October 2002
Genres: Action, Martial-Arts

*Also starring: Ric Young, Francois Berleand, Matt Schulze

Review by Harvey Karten
3 stars out of 4

Scripter Luc Besson must have seen the handwriting on the wall some time ago. The Parisian-born director, screenwriter and producer got a hot tip that the French people prefer Hollywood pics to the usual non-stop talky Gallic gems, so he told the croissant-munchers what they wanted to hear. His best work, "La femme Nikita," is the slick tale of a pleasure-seeking young woman who chills with a punk-style gang but turns tail when French intelligence makes her an offer she couldn't resist. If you saw John Badham's "Point of No Return" as well, you traced how the Americans ruined a perfectly good actioner with unemotional acting. This time, however, Besson is merely a co-screenwriter in a movie that's not going down in history for clever dialogue but is a genuine crowd pleaser for its non-stop action and its cool, James Bond-ish hero-villain. You could compare Cory Yuen's "The Transporter" with "La Femme Nikita," both dealing with people who do evil things but come around to do the right thing through no fault of their own.

The titled transporter, Jason Statham in the role of Frank Martin, is going places, not only in moving from locale to picturesque locale on most types of transportation but in his future with the all- American favorite genre of action-adventure. Statham is running on Diesel fuel from the time he enters the picture to the moment he makes France safe for escargot. As a transporter who zips about town pretty quickly, he's something like New York cab drivers, with the one exception that he knows where he's headed. Give him an address in Nice or Marseilles or Grenoble and he'll take your package there. He'll even carry people as he does in the adrenalin-pumping opening scene as driver of a getaway car for some awfully stupid-looking masked bandits (they look like the guys in the Coke ad who surrender to the cops in return for a sip of the beverage). Liking simplicity, he doesn't much go for the complexity of carrying a live package, however, a duffel bag that turns out to bear a sexy Chinese woman, Lai (Shu Qi), who makes an honest man out of him as women tend to do.

The picture is all Statham's. Borrowing from Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," Cory Yuen ("Lethal Weapon 4") directs Statham who heretofore appeared in more offbeat roles in Guy Ritchie's enigmatic "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and in Ritchie's near-incomprehensible "Snatch." The transporter not only drives BMW's and Mercedes, but is at ease hijacking a private plane, swimming in the deep, and dodging Uzi-style bullets and even bazooka shells, his desire to live fueled by Shu Qi's character Lai. Lai's wicked father, Mr Kwai (Ric Young), working with the smirking villain, Wall Street (Matt Schulze), is smuggling Chinese people into the Cote d'Azur for purposes other than playing the casinos. Francois Berleand turns up now and then with a two-day growth as Inspector Tarconi, who also has a hand in making Frank Martin see the evil of his ways.

Copyright 2002 Harvey Karten

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