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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.

Synopsis: Frank is hired to "transport" packages for unknown clients and has made a very good living doing so. But when asked to move a package that begins moving, complications arise.

Box Office:
$21 million.
Opening Weekend
$9.107 million on 2573 screens.
Domestic Gross
$25.296 million.
Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $16.98
Release Date: 11/14/2006

• Audio Commentary with Actor Jason Statham and Producer Steven Chasman
• Trailers


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Transporter [Blu-Ray] (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 17, 2016)

Some movies seem cursed to fail due to their titles. Really, could a film with a title like Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever actually appeal to an audience? Of course, it didn’t help that the flick was apparently a total POS.

Unfortunately, bad titles also mar good movies, and that was the case 2002’s The Transporter. I think that it found an audience in spite of its moniker.

When I first heard about it, the film’s title totally confused me. I hear “transporter”, I think Star Trek, and I automatically figured it was a science-fiction movie instead of the car-driven action flick it was. Maybe others weren’t as confused, but I continue to think it’s a terrible title.

Transporter focuses on Frank Martin (Jason Statham), a driver who transports illegal materials but doesn’t get involved with them in any other way; he does his job “no questions asked”. This means he may act as a getaway driver for a bank robbery. In his life and his work, Frank strives for precision and attempts to minimize complications.

Unfortunately for Frank, a problem arises when he takes a job to transport a woman named Lai (Qi Shu). Along the journey, he breaks some of his rules and shows her a little compassion. This bites him in the butt after he delivers her to “Wall Street” (Matt Schulze). Since Frank broke his own rule and interacted with “the package”, Wall Street tries to have him killed.

Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t sit well with Frank, so he attempts to take his revenge on Wall Street and his cronies. This leads to greater involvement with Lai as the two work together. The movie follows their interactions and an increasingly complicated plot that includes her father (Ric Young), a suspicious police inspector (Francois Berleand) and a container of smuggled slaves.

As you watch The Transporter, you’ll often encounter a feeling of déjà vu. The movie borrows liberally from other flicks and does little to stand on its own.

For instance, I see substantial lifts from Leon: The Professional; perhaps that shouldn’t surprise, since Transporter writer/producer Luc Besson led that earlier effort. We also see significant influences from Hong Kong cinema, Bond flicks, and even a smidgen of Raiders of the Lost Ark during a climactic truck chase.

At times, Transporter feels too cobbled together, what with all its obvious influences. That said, it manages to package the pieces into one reasonably entertaining whole.

The presence of Statham in the lead helps. His baldness makes him an unlikely heroic leading man, but Statham fleshes out the part well as he strikes a blow for cueballs everywhere. Gritty, rugged and dynamic, he creates an unusually interesting action hero.

Happily, Frank usually avoids inane quips and he packs a convincing punch. Some actors seem to require lots of behind-the-scenes shenanigans to turn them into badasses, but with Statham, you get the feeling he could really hold his own in a fight.

Predictability mars parts of the proceedings, especially as the film compares to Leon. Like that film’s protagonist, Frank is a loner with a quiet, tidy personal life unfettered by outside complications. Someone else enters this disconnected universe and brings the dude to life for the first time in quite a while.

Obviously Transporter takes a romantic twist not possible in Leon - given the female lead’s youth - and it also doesn’t go down a path with a similar impact. Leon was more of an emotional journey, while Frank’s growth here is almost incidental. At times his development feels tacked on to make the movie come across as more substantial than it is, especially since we know what will happen with the character.

Despite those easily anticipated bits, Transporter tosses in enough curveballs to make it interesting. Like the rest of the film, you won’t find anything wildly creative. There’s just enough unpredictable material to stave off boredom.

The Transporter falls into the category of fun but insubstantial. It never becomes original or terribly memorable. The action scenes are lively but not stunning, and they rarely bring anything particularly creative to the genre.

This is the sort of flick you watch, you enjoy, and then you move on with your life. Don’t expect it to stick with you, but you’ll have a good time while it runs.

The Disc Grades: Picture C/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

The Transporter appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. One of the earliest Blu-ray releases, this one showed its age.

Most of the connected to sharpness. I noticed moderate and persistent edge enhancement through much of the flick, and that led to decreased definition in the wide shots. The whole enterprise suffered from something of a “digital feel”, and I suspect noise reduction was used, as the film came with a sterile look. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed virtually no print flaws. I saw one or two specks and that was it.

Unlike many ultra-stylized action movies, Transporter stayed with a reasonably warm and natural palette. Though it favored a golden/orange tint, colors came across as lively and rich. Blacks were nicely deep and dense, while low-light shots offered good clarity. Transporter remained watchable, but it offered a disappointing transfer.

With all its combat and vehicular mayhem, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio gave the soundfield a lot of room to move. We ended up with a consistently involving piece that used the various channels well. Music offered strong stereo presence while effects were appropriately placed and blended concisely.

The cars and other vehicles transitioned cleanly across the speakers, and the track used the surrounds to good effect. They supported both music and effects well and offered plenty of unique material to create a vivid soundscape.

Audio quality impressed as well. Speech betrayed a smidgen of edginess at times but usually came across as crisp and distinctive. Music showed nice presence, with tight highs and warm lows. Effects added a strong impact. They were clean and accurate, and they demonstrated solid power from the low-end when necessary. Overall, the audio worked nicely.

How does the Blu-ray compare to the 2005 ”Special Delivery” DVD? Audio showed more oomph and pep, and visuals were tighter and smoother. Even with the Blu-ray’s flaws, it offered a step up from the DVD – I suspect the two used the same transfer, but the Blu-ray got a boost due to the format’s superior resolution.

The extras launch with an audio commentary from actor Jason Statham and producer Steven Chasman. Both men sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion. They cover subjects such as locations, stunts, characters, driving scenes, and casting.

They also toss out a lot of praise for the flick and all involved, and the track frequently presents many moments of silence. In fact, Statham even apologizes for the quality of the commentary at one point. It’s a shame, for the actor seems like he’d be a fun guy with whom to chat at a bar, but this track lacks much to make it informative or engaging.

The Blu-ray also provides a collection of trailers. We locate ads for Transporter, Transporter 2, Planet of the Apes (2001), Phone Booth, Behind Enemy Lines, Kiss of the Dragon, Speed, Fantastic Four (2005), and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

This means the Blu-ray loses a lot of extras from the “Special Delivery” DVD. It drops a few featurettes. These weren’t amazing, but their absence disappoints.

While it mostly takes place on wheels, The Transporter reinvents none. However, it doesn’t need to, as it offers a pretty tight and enjoyable – though derivative – action flick. The Blu-ray boasts very good audio but comes with a dated transfer and lackluster supplements. I like the movie well enough but the Blu-ray seems mediocre - Transporter could use an upgrade.

To rate this film visit the Special Edition review of THE TRANSPORTER