Plot: What’s it about?
Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is an ex-special forces agent, but these days, he works for both sides of the law. In truth, Martin would work for anyone who had the cash, no matter what kind of operations are involved. Martin is a transporter, he will transport any cargo to any point, so long as the funds are worthwhile. It doesn’t matter what needs to be moved, be it drugs, weapons, or even bank robbers in need of a wheelman, just as long as the money’s good. He has attained a lush lifestyle thanks to his success in this field, so he is sure to stick to what works and that means adherence to his three rules. Those rules are never change the deal, never use names, and never, ever look inside the package. As he loves his plush living, he sticks to those rules and has found immense success as a result. His latest charge is to move a large bag, which seems routine, until Martin takes a brief stop. The bag is moving, as if something alive were inside of it, but of course, Martin is hesitant to look inside. He finally breaks down and defies his own rule, only to discover a beautiful woman within. Can Martin continue his assignment as planned, or will he break all of his rules and help the poor woman?
This movie starts off with a wild, well crafted chase scene, but the rest of the film fails to live up to that standard. As you’d expect with Cory Yuen (High Risk, My Father is a Hero) at the helm, there’s action from start to finish, but what The Transporter needs is character development and a fine tuned storyline. The stunt sequences are fun to watch, but it seems as though minimal time was spent on the other elements. One man complaint is the main character, who quickly moves from interesting to dull & rehashed, when he decides to break his own rules. The role could have been a complex and fresh kind of character, but instead, the writers abandon his traits at will to suit the paper thin storyline. The rest of the cast is also left with little to do, aside from fire guns, drive cars, or simply kick off. This is a shame, as Shu Qi is a beautiful, talented actress and she is all but wasted in this picture. I do like some of the action sequences, but none can match the opening scenes, which spells almost certain doom in most cases. The final showdown is packed with set pieces and is fun to watch, but still lacks the extra kick we wanted. So no, The Transporter isn’t the next action masterpiece, but in the end, its a passable movie. If you’re looking for some mindless action cinema, then give The Transporter a rental.
He has buffed up quite a bit since we last saw him, but even so, Jason Statham needs a lot of work to become an action star. His English accent was cool at first, but now it doesn’t sound as tough and on the whole, I think he’s a lackluster choice for this role. I’m sure budget concerns prompted his selection over better known, more talented options, but even so, the choice could have cost the film’s box office millions. Statham is passable in terms of dialogue and even has some skills with a gun, but when he has to face down countless enemies, engage in chases, and handle fisticuffs, he simply isn’t believable. It takes more than biceps and a six-pack to be an action star, as you need presence and charisma, neither of which Statham has. I like him in second fiddle roles within comedic pictures, but he is simply out of his league here and as a result, The Transporter isn’t as good as it should be. Other films with Statham include The One, Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Mean Machine, Ghosts of Mars, and Snatch. The cast also includes Shu Qi (Visible Secret, Martial Angels), Ric Young (Kiss of the Dragon, Chain of Command), and Matt Schulze (The Fast and the Furious, Blade II).
Video: How does it look?
The Transporter is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. After direct comparisons with the DVD release, I can tell you that this is a marked improvement in visual presentation. That is a given of course, but the level of improvement isn’t always as high as I would like. Some scenes look excellent, with razor sharp detail and an almost three dimensional presence, which is how Blu-ray should look. The colors bound off the screen with vivid hues, while contrast is rock solid. On the other hand, some sequences barely look better than standard DVD and most scenes lack the depth we expect from high definition. So in the end, we have a good presentation, but I doubt that will satisfy most fans.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included DTS HD soundtrack isn’t reference material, but the action sounds great and provides a more than solid experience. The surrounds have a lot to do here, thanks to the frequent action driven scenes, so there is power and presence to burn. This is a loud soundtrack, but it is also well crafted, so even when the action hits a fevered pitch, there is good separation. There might not be as much refinement as I would prefer, but I think action fans will enjoy this presentation. The music kicks in even more presence, while dialogue is clear and never gets lost in the shuffle. This disc also includes Spanish and French language tracks, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Not all the extras made the transition, but we do have the film’s theatrical trailer, as well as an audio commentary track. I would have liked an audio commentary with Cory Yuen and Shu Qi, but instead, we get star Jason Statham and producer Steven Chasman. The two provide some good moments however, especially as far as the creation of the action sequences is concerned. I noticed a lot of dead space in this track, but if you liked the movie, then you’ll want to give this session a listen.