Friday Fisticuffs: The Transporter (2002)

My posts about the Jason Statham’s Transporter series are kind of like Memento. I started with the third, then wrote about the second and here I am finally getting around to the first. A few weeks back on a trip to New Hampshire, I made my way to the Big Lots where I picked this DVD up for like three bucks and it was just calling to be watched for today’s FF.

I gotta say, I’m kind of surprised I’m as high on this movie as I am because there at least three tropes in it that bug me in other movies. First off, you’ve got the basic “action guy protecting a girl he wants nothing to do with…for now” thing. That one’s so broad that it’s not as bad, especially when you take into the fact that he’s not constantly needing to protect her. The second trope that got on my nerves is how Frank–Statham–keeps saying his rules for being a transporter (literally a guy that drives things from one place to another) out loud at random times. I like how they tweaked this for the second movie and he has rules for how the little kid should treat a man’s car, but it’s a little forced at times here. And thirdly, I am getting sick of seeing action scenes set on shipping yards with those giant metal containers all around. Maybe this is because I just watched Batman Begins again and there was a scene like that in there or because of the overuse of that place in LA with all the cranes (which was in Red, The Losers and another movie I can’t think of).

So, why do I still like the flick? Because the end is bonkers awesome. With a few exceptions, the fight scenes in the first half are pretty standard with Statham looking a little slower than you come to expect after seeing a ton of his movies. But, the second half is awesome. The aforementioned dock scenes leads into a fight on a parked bus which is immediately followed by the best fight in the movie which involves him (shirtless and shoeless) pouring motor oil on himself and fighting a bunch of dudes. This is the kind of fight scene I’ve come to expect from the movie. The end involves him jumping out of an airplane with a parachute and landing directly on the car of an enemy which, of course, leads into an awesome car chase. So cool.

While this movie maybe doesn’t live up to the coolness of the sequels, there are definite hints at the kind of stunts that make it work and showcase Statham’s radness. It’s shot beautifully between the combined efforts of directors Corey Yuen (The Enforcer) and Louis Leterrier (Transporter 2, Incredible Hulk). With Luc Besson (District B-13, Taken) co-writing the movie, it’s no surprise how enjoyable this turned out to be. I’m glad things got turned up to 11 for later installments, but this is a pretty good start.

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