The Transporter: Special Delivery Edition
January 25, 2006
Since The Fifth Element (1997), Luc Besson has been content to write and produce B action movies with international casts and crews to keep down costs and maximize profits with a winning formula that features a protagonist of few words, kick-ass action, sexy women, white knuckle car chases and other death-defying stunts. As he proved with Léon: The Professional (1994), Besson understands that what makes an action film work is visual filmmaking: keep things moving with cool-looking action sequences through kinetic editing.
Frank Martin (Statham) is a no-nonsense driver of illegal packages and getaway driver extraordinaire. He adheres to his own personal code and rules with anal-retentive zeal. His latest gig is to transport a package that turns out to be a beautiful young woman (Qi). He drops the package off to the client (Schulze) who gives him another package to deliver which turns out to be a bomb that blows up his car. Understandably upset, Frank exacts some much needed revenge and gets the girl which doesn’t sit well with the client who, once he finds out that Frank isn’t dead, tries to finish the job.
One of the things that makes The Transporter work so well is the charismatic presence of Jason Statham who brings a mix of all-business and a wry sense of humour to the role. For those who only know him from Guy Ritchie movies, Statham’s transformation into a full-blown action hero is something of a revelation. There is an innate likeability to him that makes it easy to route for his character to succeed.
Besson’s script is an economy of words featuring only what is absolutely necessary while Corey Yuen brings his trademark kinetic Hong Kong action sensibilities to this movie. As a result, the action sequences play out like well-choreographed musical numbers. Like all good action directors, Yuen understands that it is all in the editing. Cuts are done in a way that accentuates the rhythm of the action.
The Transporter features several intense car chases filled with exciting near misses and narrow escapes. It’s trimmed of all the usual action genre B.S. and amplifies what’s left to the nth degree with little twists of snarky humour—both verbal and visual—to punctuate the end of every action sequence. The Transporter is a clever action film filled with exciting action-packed sequences and enough of an engaging story in between.
As is the custom with Hollywood studios nowadays, The Transporter is being given the double-dip treatment to coincide with the upcoming sequel. There is very little difference between the two editions, so if you already own this movie you might want avoid this one unless you are a completist.
New to this edition is an “Inside Look” that features the trailer for and a brief behind-the-scenes featurette on The Transporter 2 (2005) which promises more of the same only cranked up a few more notches.
There is an audio commentary by actor Jason Statham and producer Steven Chasman. Statham points out that the BMW he drives at the beginning was one of a kind and very fast. Chasman points out that Statham did most of his own driving and stunt work. The two men offer anecdotal recollections of making this movie with the occasional gaps.
Another new extra is “Behind the Scenes…The Transporter,” a 35 minute featurette that explores various aspects and mixes on the set footage with clips from the movie. It shows how some of the exciting car chases were orchestrated, rehearsal footage of Statham’s fight scene in the bus (with some funny bits as he tries to get a knife trick right) and how certain special effects (i.e. explosions) were done. This is a good look at how this film came together.
Also included is the previous version’s making of featurette that was more of a promo puff piece.
There is a “Storyboard-to-Film Comparison” for some scenes from the movie that allows you watch the storyboards and the film separately or view them both simultaneously.
“Extended Fight Sequences” features the first edit of three fight scenes with optional commentary by Statham, Chasman and director Yuen. These original versions were cut down for reasons of time or by the censors for their violent nature. Statham is candid in voicing his disappointment at the cuts that were made because they disrupted the rhythm of the sequences. Yuen talks about how he wanted the action to service the story and not the other way around.
Finally, there are trailers for the movie.