Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:32 - Released 10/11/02

What happens when you team up Hong Kong writer/producer/director/actor/fight choreographer Corey Yuen, known for countless Chinese action flicks dating back to the 1970s, French writer/producer/director Luc Besson, known for countless French movies like La Femme Nikita and Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, and American writer/winemaker Robert Mark Kamen, known for the Karate Kid movies and a really kickass Cabernet Sauvignon? Here's what happens: everybody gets drunk and writes an action movie. The Transporter, starring Jason Statham (Snatch), attempts to amalgamate Bond, Chan, and Diesel, but those guys all have something that Statham lacks: charm. This guy is more like Van Damme or Seagal, delivering kicks, punches, and bullets without giving us any reason to care. The result is an excruciating experience of hollow, empty action, with idiotic dialogue, no characterization to speak of, and a comic-book premise too silly to take seriously. The only reason I can recommend this movie is for novelty purposes: it could be a fun activity to count the plot holes and logical discrepancies. But I'd wait for the video, so you can leave the room to throw up when necessary.

Statham is Frank Martin, a British ex-military living in France, who has established a lucrative business transporting people and packages, no questions asked (except for size, weight, and destination), for a variety of ill-conceived shady characters. His success is based primarily on a rigid devotion to three rules: 1) Never change the deal, 2) No names, and 3) Never open the package. After an unfathomably ridiculous auto chase scene intended to establish his technique behind the wheel of his sexy BMW sportscar, which is fitted out with multiple license plates that he can change with the touch of a button, we get to the meat of the story. He is hired by a cartoonishly evil, smirking American named Wall Street (Matt Schulze) to take an oversized gym bag to a remote location. All goes well until he gets a flat tire and opens the trunk to get the spare, and the gym bag starts squirming. At first he ignores it, but curiosity gets the better of him, and he breaks rule #3. Inside is a beautiful Asian girl named Lai (Qi Shu), bound and gagged. Uh-oh, rule #2 broken. When he removes her duct tape, she tells him of a cargo container filled with 400 of her Chinese countrymen who are about to arrive in port and be sold into slavery by Wall Street and her father (Ric Young), an evil Chinese businessman driven to these desperate acts by the depression of knowing he looks like an Asian version of Paul Simon in drag. Upon learning this, Frank decides, what the hell, he's already broken two rules; he might as well break them all.

From its opening chase (car jumps off bridge, lands squarely in empty spot on car-carrier truck, trucker doesn't notice) to its numerous brain-dead action scenes (man covers self in oil, is therefore too slippery for his assailants to hold onto) to its empty characterizations (burly, emotionless man and hot, panty-clad girl make friends based solely on burliness and panty-cladism), this movie is as fun to sit through as a burning hemorrhoid. Director Yuen and writers Besson and Kamen are obviously under the impression that audiences don't require any logical explanation of events, do not pay attention to details, and are ignorant of basic physics. And Statham seems to buy into that too, making no attempt to achieve a believable, let alone likable, human character. If there is any justice, fate will transport this movie to the video store, to the discount shelf, and finally to the dumpster, where it belongs. *

Copyright 2002 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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