Judge Eric Profancik once thought he heard someone locked in his truck, but as he learned, old Big Macs can take on a life of their own.
Our review of The Transporter, published April 8th, 2003, is also available.
Rule 1: Never Change the Deal
To tweak an old chestnut, Jason Statham was always the best man and never the groom. For years Jason had played a supporting character in several notable movies. In Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, he made a name for himself as a quality actor. But with The Transporter, he was given a chance to headline a major studio release. Much to action fans' delight, he has the goods to take the top billing and make something of it.
Facts of the Case
"I'm fed up with this car chase!"
In his 1999 black BMW 735, Frank Martin (Statham) is a transporter with an excellent reputation. With just a few specific questions about the parcel's weight and dimensions, Frank will guarantee delivery of your goods with no further questions asked. Frank lives by three simple rules, and they have kept him out of trouble. But that's not to say that the local inspector is clueless to what Frank—just a simple guy, living off his military pension—is really doing.
Then one day Frank breaks his rules, and everything comes crashing down. While transporting a package, he gets a flat tire. When he opens the trunk, he sees that his package is moving. Obviously there's a person inside, and he eventually opens it to find a young, Asian woman, Lai, inside. Regardless, he makes his delivery to Darren "Wall Street" Bottencourt (Matt Schulze, Blade II). As he leaves, Wall Street asks Frank to make another delivery, and soon discovers it's a bomb. Frank escapes and seeks immediate vengeance against Wall Street.
With one thing leading to another, Frank and Lai find themselves working together to uncover a sinister plot involving Wall Street and Lai's father.
Frank will never break his rules again.
Without intending to, I told you 75% of the story. My apologies if I've ruined your movie experience. (Rest assured, enough things happen in the remaining 25% so you won't feel like I spoiled the entire movie.) Hopefully you'll realize that with The Transporter, it's not about plot but about action. The movie is held together with just the slightest wisp of a plot (a clichéd plot, but still a plot), but it's enough to keep it in one piece long enough to put in some car chases and lots of fights.
This briskly paced film will be over before you know it as it flows quickly from one action scene to the next. If you're watching this movie, you're here for the action, and The Transporter has a few interesting tricks up its sleeves. Most notable for me is a fight near the end of the movie when Frank takes on well over a dozen men. First, it's a tight fight inside of a (parked) bus. You think the bad guys are about to pulverize him, especially since Frank has no weapons and all the bad guys have pipes or knives. But Frank is ex-military (no further details given) and his training has made him expertly capable of extricating himself from the worst of situations. And, surprise, he gets off the bus quickly and easily, only to find himself surrounded by another seven or eight guys outside in the bus terminal. Here's where it gets interesting and creative, for motor oil comes into play in this melee, making for some new twists and turns in the mano a mano combat.
With all that said, it should be noted that Jason Statham gives The Transporter that little extra something to make it all work: the look. Statham looks menacing in this film. He has an aura of tough bravado that lets you believe he could get away with most of what he's doing. It's an elusive combination of his shaved head, piercing eyes, and self-confidence. Statham's Frank is believable as the powerhouse man with all the rules.
Why do we have this "Special Delivery Edition" available? What prompted this latest double-dip? That would be the release of The Transporter 2. I haven't seen the first release of this film on DVD, so I cannot make a first-hand comparison. I'll give you my thoughts on the transfers and then compare the two discs' features.
The 2.40:1 anamorphic print is superb. From the opening shots in the parking garage, the level of clarity and realism is exceptional. With rich, accurate colors, solid blacks, deep detail, and no errors that I could see, this is an outstanding transfer. On the audio front, there are two choices for the English speaker. First up is a new DTS track that, quite simply, rocks. This is a powerful mix with crisp, clean dialogue, thorough use of the surrounds, and a subwoofer mix that will knock books off shelves. Its only drawback is that, at times, the rock portion of the soundtrack overwhelms the rest of the movie. That needs to be dialed back just a bit to bring it into better balance. For those of you who aren't lucky enough to have DTS capabilities, don't fret, as the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is almost as good. You'll have no complaints with its sound, and without comparison to a DTS mix, you wouldn't know you were missing that extra little oomph.
Outside of the film you'll find the following special features on the DVD:
• Audio Commentary by Jason Statham and Producer Steve Chasman: A decent and mildly entertaining effort from these two gentlemen. Jason is a touch more casual about what he talks about, while Steve is more technically focused. It's probably not something I'll listen to again, but it fills in a few gaps.
• "Making of The Transporter, Original Version" (12 minutes): This is a light and fluffy promo piece; it doesn't go into any deep details about the film.
• Extended Fight Sequences (15 minutes): Three sequences from the movie are shown in the full, unedited, rough (footage) form. Because of overall pacing and rating's concerns, these fights were trimmed back. I found these original scenes to be better than what ended up in the film primarily because of the reasons they were trimmed back. The fight pacing is smoother and cleaner and the extra violence fits better in the film. So what if the film had earned an R? You can see that's what it really wanted to be. Additionally, these scenes can be watched with or without commentary (same two guys as above), and I highly recommend the commentary as there is no dialogue, just a bad soundtrack instead.
• Storyboard-to-Film Comparison (1.75 minutes): This quick segment lets you use your angle button to watch the parachute scene. I'm not a big for of these comparison pieces.
• Behind the Scenes Featurette (35 minutes): Broken down into segments about the car stunts, Jason Statham, Francois Berleand (the French inspector), Shu Qi (Lai), and special effects, this featurette is far more detailed and interesting than the "original version."
• "Inside Look at The Transporter 2" (10 minutes): Another fluffy, PR-type piece that works to get you psyched for the new film, now set in America!
So, of the above six items, what's new and what a rehash from the original disc? The first three in the list appear to be direct ports, while the last three appear to be new items. (Also included is a time-sensitive coupon to see The Transporter 2 for free.)
The Rebuttal Witnesses
My biggest complaint about this movie is the awful soundtrack choices. This pseudo hip-hop, bass-thumping junk they play throughout the film is awful and highly distracting. It adds nothing to the action scenes, it doesn't bolster the move or enhance it, and it just gets on your nerves. In an attempt to give the film an extra layer of hip and cool, it missed the mark. Whoever approved this music needs to be transported to Siberia.
Also worthy of mention is the terrible cover art for both releases. I thought the first's was bad, but this second one is utterly lame. Who approves this stuff? And who's the hot Asian woman pictured in the packaging? Is the Lai? If so, I wish she had worn that yummy little outfit in the movie.
I enjoyed The Transporter. It's not an especially innovative or inventive film, but it mixes in something new every now and then in its numerous action scenes. If you need a quick action fix, this one isn't a bad choice. Jason Statham is a refreshing breath of fresh air in the action world. He looks like he really could be a rough and tumble transporter, and that whiff of believability is all you need to keep on watching. But we also need to factor in this double-dip and how and whether to buy this. If you like the film and don't own it, this new edition would make a nice addition for your collection. With its top shelf transfers, decent bonus items, time-sensitive ticket to The Transporter 2, and inexpensive retail price, it's not a bad call. If you like the film and already own it, I don't see it worth an upgrade to buy the "Special Delivery Edition." If you're just looking for an action fix, then give it a rental.
The Transporter: Special Delivery Edition is hereby found guilty of looking in the package and creating an unnecessary double-dip.
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Scales of Justice
• Audio Commentary by Jason Statham and Producer Steve Chasman
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