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Frank Martin is the best at what he does: transporting dangerous or illegal goods with no questions asked. But his last shipment, a beautiful young woman kidnapped by international slave traders, brings deadly complications to his delivery plan. No Frank must kick into overdrive in a nonstop action-packed fight to save his precious cargo - and his life.

Louis Leterrier, Corey Yuen
Jason Statham, Qi Shu, Matt Shulze, Francois Berleand, Ric Young, Doug Rand, Didier Saint Melin
Writing Credits:
Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen

Rules are made to be broken
Box Office:
Budget $21 million.
Opening weekend $9.107 million on 2573 screens.
Domestic gross $25.296 million.
Rated PG-13 for violent sequences and some sensuality.

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
English DD EX 5.1
French Dolby Surround
Spanish Dolby Surround
English, Spanish

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $27.98
Release Date: 4/15/2003

• 15 Minutes of Non-Stop, Unrated, Extended Action Scenes
• Actor/Producer Commentary
• Making-Of Featurette
• Theatrical Trailer

Music soundtrack
Search Titles:

TV - Mitsubishi CS-32310 32"; Subwoofer - JBL PB12; DVD Player - Toshiba SD-4700; Receiver - Sony STR-DE845; Center - Polk Audio CS175i; Front Channels - Polk Audio; Rear Channels - Polk Audio.


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The Transporter (2002)

Reviewed by David Williams (March 31, 2003)

When you watched the Oscars a week or so ago, you probably missed The Transporter being called out at any time during the evening. However, there’s a good reason for that, as this is the type of film that doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is … an over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek, balls-to-the-wall, action flick that constantly reminds audiences to turn off the brains, sit back, and enjoy the ass-kicking ride.

The film has the distinct markings of action genre greats all over it, as the film’s script was co-written by Luc Besson (The Professional, La Femme Nikita, and The Fifth Dimension) and Robert Mark Kamen (Gladiator) and was dually helmed by Cory Yuen, famed Hong Kong filmmaker and martial arts fight choreographer and Louis Leterrier, one of Luc Besson’s protégée’s and assistants. The film stars Jason Statham, a former British olympic diving star who made his mark in cinema by becoming a tough guy regular in the good Guy Ritchie films, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. All seem to revel in the picture’s excess … and rightfully so … as there are some really fun and outlandish action sequences contained within.

In The Transporter, Statham plays Frank Martin, a former Special Forces commando living comfortably in the French Riviera with a niche business – delivering “packages” for unsavory clients, no questions asked and moral consequences unquestioned. However, he does have three simple rules that he sticks to at all times: 1) Never Change The Deal, 2) No Names, and 3) Never Look In The Package. Interestingly enough, we just so happen to meet up with Frank on the first and only day he breaks his strictly adhered to policies.

While driving his tricked-out BMW 735 on the way to another delivery, Frank hears some muffled screams coming from his trunk. Curiosity gets the best of him and against his better judgment, Rule #3 goes out the window. When he opens up the trunk, he finds a beautiful hostage, Lai (a very smokin’ Shu Qi), who claims that she really needs to pee. Frank reluctantly agrees to let her go behind some bushes and our captive hottie uses the occasion to try and get away. She’s soon caught – Frank learns his lesson – and he ultimately delivers the package successfully. After the delivery to a particularly shady client – who, unbeknownst to Frank at the time, goes by the name of Wall Street (Matt Schulze as a very non-threatening villain) – he’s approached about “transporting” another package. Unfortunately for both, Wall Street breaks Rule #1 in a major way and Frank is forced to set things straight. In an incredibly odd chain of events, Lai escapes from Wall Street’s mansion and manages to hook back up with Frank again ... and off they go.

As the two run from Wall Street’s goons, the “story” (such as it is) begins to develop and we find Frank and Lai fighting for their lives with predictably over-the-top and amusingly absurd results. (It’s a good thing the bad guys don’t shoot real well, as they unload more ammo on Frank and Lai than the Coalition Forces have bombs on Baghdad.) Storylines collide and very quickly we learn about Asian immigrants being smuggled into southern France – organized crime having a hand in it – and Lai’s father (Ric Young) playing a major role in the trade. Too add to the problems, Frank is regularly visited by Tarconi (Francois Berleand), a perceptive local detective whose job it is to routinely question Frank and raise his eyebrows at the appropriate moments, as details of the incredibly meager plot are revealed and the story barrels toward the finish line.

Statham definitely has the makings of an action star, as his athleticism and ability are without reproach. He’s got the perfect mixture of charm and savvy and even manages to evoke that pre-requisite “action hero smirk” like an old pro. Statham’s abilities are on display here and are admittedly quite amazing during the multiple action sequences shown and the hand-to-hand fighting scenes that Yuen has choreographed for him are nothing short of remarkable. (Who knew a t-shirt could kick someone’s ass?) Newcomer Shu Qi is absolutely stunning and is an amazingly good actress when she’s speaking in her native tongue - but her English is so horrid, it literally drags the film down when she’s speaking. While it’s laughably bad, it’s slightly unfair since she learned English specifically for this film. That being said, you’re probably not watching The Transporter for the witty and expertly enunciated dialogue anyway …

Ultimately, The Transporter isn’t about story … it’s about mindless action and nothing more. Given the influences of Luc Besson’s script and Cory Yuen’s direction, you should know what to expect and given that fact, the crew delivers on all fronts. If you’re looking to make sense of certain plot points or character motivations, you’re gonna be sorely disappointed and should look elsewhere for your entertainment needs.

The DVD Grades: Picture A- / Audio A / Bonus C

Fox presents The Transporter in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with anamorphic encoding. The studio also gives viewers the option of watching the film in all of it’s chopped and cropped fullscreen glory on the flip side if they’re so inclined. I’m sure DVDMG readers don’t need to be reminded that the only version of the film that will be reviewed … and deserves to be … is the widescreen one. That being said, the film looks as good as you’d expect from such a recent release and Fox has done a stand-up job on the transfer for The Transporter.

The image is a very tight and detailed one, with excellent detail noted throughout the film at all times. The film’s color palette was very warm and inviting, with the French Mediterranean countryside displaying some brilliant and inviting hues. There weren’t really any scenes of note where the colors flew off of the screen at you or anything, but throughout the film, the coloration was right on the money and was always properly balanced, contrasted, and saturated. Smearing or bleeding were never noted at any time. Fleshtones were quite natural and accurate, while black levels were consistently deep and strong.

Flaws with the print were miniscule, as I noted an occasion or two of shimmer and a couple of instances of halos and that’s about it. Grain was not noted in any mentionable quantity, while edge enhancement and print flaws were noticeably absent as well. This is quite simply one of the better transfers to be run through my DVD player in some time and the lack of noticeable flaws – major and minor – is quite commendable.

Ultimately, The Transporter looks quite grandiose and short of a very few flaws, this was an amazing home viewing experience.

Fox has given The Transporter a very active and engaging Dolby Digital 5.1 audio transfer with EX encoding. Being an action film, you were probably expecting an energetic mix, but Fox has pulled out all the stops here and has gone the extra mile in providing viewers with an intricately encoded and very engaging transfer.

From the opening moments of the film, Fox lets you know that they plan on keeping the mix active at all times, as the orchestral music that plays over the opening credits (while Statham is sitting in his car) engages each and every speaker in your home theater setup – and that’s only the beginning. The surrounds remain occupied for the majority of the film and there was some incredible panning and split surround usage heard on multiple occasions throughout The Transporter. Discrete effects and ambience were quite strong in the transfer, as environmental surrounds were noticeable throughout the film and they really created an enveloping environment. Sound effects came from all over the soundstage and they started and ended in their proper place at all times – consistently effective and always very natural sounding. Gunshots ring out true, tires let out a rubber-burning squeal, and heads and ribs reverberate with a bone-crunching thud.

Your LFE gets some resounding play during The Transporter, with a very nice low-end response easily heard – and felt - throughout the film. The sub also serves to prop up the film’s hip-hop/techno/orchestral score, as Stanley Clarke overdoes it somewhat with some very over-the-top pieces. Dialogue was front, center, and easily understood, without any harshness or edginess detected in the track at any time and the only intelligibility problems were related to Statham's thick English accent, as well as the muddled accents of Francois Berleand and the totally hot Shu Qi.

Much like the video transfer, this is absolutely one of the best audio transfers I’ve run through my player in many, many months and it absolutely must be experienced to be believed. Giving you example after example of what the track does to involve you is nothing short of an injustice to the track. Trust me - The Transporter is a great mix and a lot of fun. It reminds you of why you made the investment in your home theater setup in the first place and serves to reinforce why we love DVDs so much.

Fox provides an alternate Spanish and French Dolby Surround track, as well as English and Spanish subtitles.

Fox has added a commendable amount of supplements for The Transporter, but in a disturbing trend, they have once again included different supplements on different sides of the disc. I don’t know if studios are doing this in order to justify flippers or what, but whatever the reason, it’s frustrating as all get out for the viewer. There aren’t enough supplements included here where compression issues would have come in to play, so it’s rather annoying to have to flip the disc over just to get to some rather paltry extras. Fox – you guys are better than this and you know it – please keep the supplements consistent on both sides of the platter.

The one consistent supplement on both sides of the DVD is the Commentary with Jason Statham and producer Steven Chasman. The commentary was rather generic as Statham stuck to topics like how he trained for certain scenes, what it was like making the film, special and visual effects used, and general behind-the-scenes anecdotes. Chasman stuck to producer/director topics like location shoots, working with the principals on the film, how certain actors were approached about working on The Transporter, generic production issues an so on. Ultimately, the commentary succeeds at hitting the high points, but failed somewhat at offering up any great depth on the film. Hardcore fans might find something interesting here, but all others would be better off just watching the film a second time.

On the fullscreen side, we get the film’s Theatrical Trailer, as well as a Making Of Featurette (12:01). This was a very traditional behind-the-scenes featurette and there’s nothing incredibly insightful here other than the regular tidbits you’d expect to find. We see all the different cultures coming together on the set (an American producer, a French and Chinese crew, British and Asian actors, and a Hong Kong director) and we learn a little bit about a lot of stuff in a very short amount of time. We hear about the actors in the film and how they came to be involved, we lean a little on how Statham and Yuen choreographed the fights, how Shu Qi learned English just for this film, and how Matt Schulze lost 40+ pounds to play the thug “Wall Street”. Interview snippets with the principals are mixed in with clips from the film and clips from behind-the-scenes and ultimately, this is just another in a long line of generic “first look” features.

On the widescreen side of the DVD, along with the commentary, we have three Extended Fight Sequences that can be viewed with optional commentary from Jason Statham, producer Steven Chasman, and director Cory Yuen. Being that these are fight sequences and not “dialogue heavy” ones, the commentary was a welcome addition to this particular supplement. Included, we have options to view the extended fight sequences “Wall Street’s House” (3:49), “Container Fight” (3:47), and “Bus Station / Oil Fight” (7:30). We learn that the intention of the group was always to create a PG-13 film and because of that, many of the fight sequences had to be cut for pure censorship purposes. Pacing was also mentioned a few times, as was discussion on how the scenes were staged and how they were shot. Good stuff, but nothing earth-shatteringly great although ultimately, this was a nice addition to the set.

Again, not a spectacular set of supplements in anyone’s book and definitely hampered by the fact that you have to flip the disc to watch them all. Not the way I’d choose to do it, but it’s all we’re gonna get and while fans of the film might have wanted more, Fox has excelled in every other area of this disc other than the extras and ultimately, that’s all that counts.

Don’t expect The Transporter to be anything other than it is and you’ll enjoy the heck out of it. The paper-thin plot is nothing more than an excuse to give Statham a vehicle to introduce audiences to his particular version of an ass kicking good time. It’s style over substance all the way, as Statham masterfully drives a flashy getaway car, flexes, dodges thousands of bullets, parades around without his shirt on, whips up on a couple of guys carrying axes, kicks ass covered in motor oil, and so on … you know, the kind of stuff that happens every day.

If you’re into mindless action, The Transporter is right up your alley and provides viewers with quite a few mind-numbingly cool moments. For the asking price, the DVD is priced about right and fans of the film will absolutely be blown away with the expertly crafted audio and video portions of the disc.

You know whether or not this film is up your alley and if it is, rest assured that outside of the lack of any substantive extras, The Transporter is a hella-fun ride.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.0882 Stars Number of Votes: 34
7 3:
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