Thursday, 8 September 2016

STATHAM HITS: The Transporter (2002)

This is a list of my favourite Statham movies. Not movies starring Statham, but movies that epitomise the growly, balding awesomeness that is Jason [BLANKING] Statham.

The Transporter is the movie that introduced Jason Statham as the action god he is today. Some action heroes take a few movies to find their niche: Statham gets there in one movie.

Statham plays Frank Martin, a driver who carries packages for a fee. In his work, Martin follows three rules:

1) Don't change the deal

2) No names

3) Never open the package

If a client breaks the rules, Frank walks.

Frank has a pretty easy life, all things considered (those things being car chases, shootouts, and other death-involving things), until he accepts an assignment to take a large, moving package across country.

The package is a young woman, Lai (Shu Qi). When the clients try to double-cross him, Frank goes ballistic. 

This movie is not smart, this movie is not art, this movie is AWESOME. Come on, it features a bad guy called Wall Street. WALL STREET!

It's not as awesome as its sequel, but The Transporter is still great. The action comes fast and furious, with the oil slick fight in particular a stand out, as Frank oils himself up and then beats the crap out of a bunch of bad 'uns. 

Co-directed by Corey Yeun and Louis Letterier, The Transporter is fast and flashy, combining chop socky with a dash of Road Runner-style battiness that helps the movie stand out from the more earnest offerings of the same period. The movie is a live action cartoon, but in the best possible way.

But while the action is great, Statham makes the movie what it is. Physically capable, stubbled, and growling every line like he's in a one-liner competition at an arm-wrestling contest, Jason Statham turns Frank Martin into an anti-hero everyone can love. The lines may clunk, the acting may be of the finest mahogany, and the plot may be bobbins, but Statham is the unflinching, stoic centre that keeps the movie on track.  I've always had this vague sense that Statham's reticence as an action hero is some kind of meta piss-take on the whole idea of the monosyllabic hero, but who knows? Any way you slice it, it works. 

The heir apparent to old school hard men like Charles Bronson, Statham's deadpan intensity has rarely been better served than in this.

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