In which Gerry Hayes considers Rule One: Anything where Statham’s driving...
The Transporter, 2002.
Directed by Corey Yuen.
Starring Jason Statham, Qi Shu, Matt Schulze.
Written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.
You know, I almost don’t want to include The Transporter in this series. Oh there’s no doubt that it’s drivel but the thing is, it doesn’t really pretend to be anything else. It’s brainless entertainment with no other purpose or pretences. It’s essentially just a bunch of coloured lights and noises designed to keep people gawping for an hour and a half instead of going out, getting pissed and picking a fight with someone smaller. The Transporter isn’t trying to be high-brow or to ‘say something’. It’s not trying to ‘work on a number of levels’ (it barely has one) and, for all of these reasons, I’m a little reluctant to include it here.
That said, I saw it recently and, my god, it’s rubbish.
Jason Statham (now pretty much typecast as ‘that bloke who drives stuff’) plays Frank Martin, an ex-special forces hard man, retired to the south of France. There, he makes ends meet by driving stuff about. He’s essentially a sort of taxi cum courier service but with added hardness.
He has a BMW of which he’s geekily proud. He’s even installed a fake looking keypad to immobilise the car and make sure fares can’t shoot him and drive off. He’s no-muss-no-fuss and he’s the coolest guy ever to don a pair of driving gloves.
Everything’s going swimmingly until Frank gets hired by a bad guy called Wall Street (Schulze). You can tell immediately he’s a bad guy as he’s all cocky and mental. If you met him in real life, you’d say “well, this bloke has a job for me but he looks a bit like the sort who would double-cross me and probably try to kill me in some cruel, inventive manner - I might pass”.
Mr. Street gives Frank a ‘package’ to deliver. Frank pops off happily with the package in the boot/trunk (I’m catering to audiences on both sides of the Atlantic there - did you notice?).
Frank’s curiosity, however, gets the better of him and he breaks his own, self-imposed rule about not looking in the package and he looks in the package. Inside he finds a girl, Lai (Qi Shu). It’s about here that the stupidest thing you have ever seen happens. Not just the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen in a film but the stupidest thing you’ve seen anywhere, ever:
Lai tells Frank she needs to visit the little girl’s room. Frank, who earlier in the film, didn’t mind bank-robber brains all over his car, gets all squeamish at the thought of a bit of girl-pee in it and lets her wander off into the woods, far out of sight, to do her filthy business. A lesser man might worry that she would take the opportunity to run off. Frank, however, has the benefit of his Special Forces training which has thought him that draping the end of a long rope, loosely, about his prisoner’s shoulders will allow her to wander two hundred feet into the woods, out of sight, with little or no hope of escape.
I won’t spoil things by telling how this - seemingly flawless - plan worked out.
The film goes on in a pretty similar vein. Something ridiculous happens and then there’s a big fight. Something moronic happens and then there’s lots of shooting and rockets. Something imbecilic happens and then there’s...
...An intensely homo-erotic, oil-fight between loads of bad-guys and a bare-chested, greased-up Jason Statham. Yep, Statham - with the big guns out - gets himself all lubed-up and squelches and squirms about the floor of a bus garage with a dozen other men.
As you might expect, once he's despatched the oiled men, Statham saves the day in a manly, big-bicepsed sort of way and sits back and waits for the call about the sequel.
Personally, I’m quite looking forward to Italian Death Transporter Job IV.
Read more I Sat Through That? right here.
Gerry Hayes is a garret-dwelling writer subsisting on tea, beer and Flame-Grilled Steak flavour McCoy’s crisps. You can read about other stuff he doesn't like on his blog at http://stareintospace.com or you can have easy, bite-sized bits of him at http://twitter.com/gerryhayes