Transporter Shines Like Coal

Needed: 1) One man willing to transport anything, no questions asked. 2) One attractive Asian actress with a poor grasp of the English language and/or Stanislavski’s “method acting”. 3) A vaguely defined plan to smuggle human cargo through Niece, France led by an Asian businessman with overtly evil henchmen. 4) One French detective that appears occasionally to check up on Frank Martin’s (Jason Statham) new life as a retired civilian and its legality. 5) An audience that will pay money to see any movie that has a chance, however slim, of a female actress removing her clothes. With these components any would be director could create the master piece known as The Transporter

Frank Martin (Jason Statham) an ex-Army officer, of an unknown country, turned mercenary transporter plays a seriously underdeveloped character with a love for discipline, his BMW, and extremely tight fitting shirts. As a mercenary transporter, Frank abides by three rules of transportation: Rule 1: never change the terms of the deal, Rule 2: never exchange names, and Rule 3: never look at what’s inside the package. Played opposite Frank (Statham), is Lai (Shu Qi) in her second appearance in front of an American audience (So Close, 2002).

Up to this point Frank’s rules have worked perfectly, until he picks up and opens what amounts to a major plot twist with little explanation. Inside the package is, Lai (Shu Qi), the screaming daughter of Mr. Kwai (Ric Young), who has been kidnapped and slated for death because of her efforts to stop her father’s illegal smuggling operation. Of course this is completely implied, and although we learn later of Mr. Kwai’s illegal business, we are never told where his “merchandise” is headed. We are given even less information about his background, nationality, etc.

The scene involved Frank opening the duffel bag, cutting a small slit in the duct tape covering Lai’s mouth, and then inserting a straw through which she enjoys a refreshing sip of Orangina before being put back into the very same duffel bag. While this scene in no way advances the plot of the movie, it does satisfy the demographic niche that craves any imagery suggestive of hardcore bondage and discipline; that niche for which Louis Leterrier and Corey Yuen (co-directors) were apparently aiming.

The relationship between Frank and Lai is unconventional to say the least. Shortly after Lai is freed from certain death by Frank, she becomes unusually willing to please him, domestically and semi-intellectually. She goes on to clean his house, prepare him a meal, and foil her father’s evil plot. Usually I would refrain from revealing the ending to a movie I review, but I decided that Transporter was one movie that did not merit such editorial concern. Although Transporter’s plot is somewhat lacking, Qi brings a “broken English” innocence to an otherwise stock character.

Transporter is more a conglomeration of poorly choreographed action scenes from a variety of different movies. There are scenes reminiscent of Speed, Fight Club, and the incomparable xXx, staring Vin Diesel. As an action movie, Transporter is the casserole of a lavish action buffet.

In order to help those actors in Hollywood avoid the trap Jason Statham has recently fallen into, I have devised three rules to follow to become a successful actor in Hollywood: Rule 1: Always read the screenplay before you agree to act in the movie, Rule 2: Never look at what’s inside the package, and Rule 3: If you ever act in two movies that enjoy widespread critical claim, retire before you have the chance to accept a role as a poor man’s Vin Diesel with a lead actress that has an “uneasy” grasp of the English language.