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Fox Home Entertainment presents
The Transporter (2002)

Thug: You know, rules are meant to be broken!
Frank : Not my rules.

- Jean-Yves Bilien, Jason Statham

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: May 04, 2003

Stars: Jason Statham, Shu Oi, Francois Berleand
Other Stars: Matt Schulze
Director: Cory Yuen

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violent sequences and some sensuality
Run Time: 01h:32m:11s
Release Date: April 15, 2003
UPC: 024543074397
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ C+A-A C

DVD Review

The Transporter is a movie with quite a lot of "parenting" behind it, though many people might not know it. It's pedigree is quite esteemed, even though it doesn't help the final product much. Co-written by French director Luc Besson, directed by Hong Kong cinema powerhouse Corey Yuen, and starring the charismatic Jason Statham (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Mean Machine), one might just as well expect this film to blow you out of your house and into the neighbor's yard. Unfortunately, it falls a bit short of those expectations. But in an age of continuously dumb action films, The Transporter is at least a dumb action film that delivers some serious punch. Just remember to check your brain at the door.

From the opening frame, this film has "Luc Besson movie" all over it (is it just me, or is the opening chase sequence just crying out to be compared to the opening of Subway?), and things begin with a snappy introduction to our lead character, Frank Martin. Martin accepts getaway and transportation jobs for a high fee, and he's darn worth it. The local police inspector knows what he's up to, but since he's such an excellent criminal, he also knows he'll perpetually get away with it. Basically, the movie kicks in when Martin breaks one of his own rules: he looks inside a package he's been paid to deliver: Inside the large duffel bag is a woman. Who she is and why she's there is an unknown factor, but by seeing her and getting even that little bit involved with her, he's screwed up his little business relationship with his client. The bad guys try to kill him, they fail, and he comes looking for revenge, as well as to save the mysterious damsel in distress. A paper thin plot is used as an excuse for Martin to kick-butt and take names, but that's alright in the long run.

Featuring some nice fight sequences and a few stylish chase sequences, The Transporter certainly isn't lacking in excitement. Unfortunately, where a weak story wouldn't have been much of a flaw, Transporter tries to make up for it by adding in rather clumsy sub-plots about slave traders. This has a negative result because it tries too hard to make us care for the characters and get involved in their dilemma when most of us just want to see some action. The script also ham-handedly throws in a romance element between the Transporter and the girl he's encountered, which is even harder to take than the whole slave-trade thing. None of this ruins the fun of the movie, but it's one of those things that seems unnecessary. In the end, though, you have a solid excitement machine that, despite being a little dimwitted, provides lighthearted entertainment. All in all, I think had Luc Besson actually directed this film himself, there would have likely been a tighter structure and it probably would have been longer and featured a more intimate plot. However, Corey Yuen proves himself to be an excellent director of high-budget Western films, but my question is: now that he's making 'Hollywood' films, when are we going to see him get re-teamed with Jet Li?

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: The disc is double-sided, featuring both full-screen and widescreen transfers. Obviously, I recommend the widescreen since it preserves the original composition, which is very important given the almost constant use of wide-angle lenses in the filming. The widescreen side features a fairly typical, excellent Fox transfer, where the warm, lush cinematography of the French countryside in which the story takes place is re-created with amazing detail and rich color. There are no obvious artifacts or other image issues. Some grain and slight pixelization is apparent in the full-screen version, but it is fleeting and does little to effect anything about the transfer in that version, although much of the style and composition is lost in the process, so be warned.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanish, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The English Dolby 5.1 is a nicely balanced mix featuring a large amount of directionality (especially with all the bullets flying about), but yet, allowing itself to be properly subdued and atmospheric when the scene calls for it. It'll explode off the screen during the appropriate parts, and soothe you during the calm moments. There's a healthy amount of bass, but it's not overwhelming or improperly done. The whole soundtrack is very fun and energetic; just what you'd hope for in an action film. The 2.0 Surround in Spanish and French keeps a surprising amount of this energy, only without the wild activity of the 5.1.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Actor Jason Statham and producer Steven Chasman
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The film itself features a full-length commentary by actor Jason Statham and producer Steven Chasman. It's not bad, but it isn't very active or interesting, and Statham's comments are very sparse, making me wonder if he was even present for most of the film, since many things he could comment on, he doesn't. Most of the track is Steven Chasman discussing aspects of the production, which is interesting, but becomes a little stiff after awhile. The commentary never really gets as humorous or casual as you might want, and feels more technical by the end.
While on the DVD case there is a big deal made about "extended, uncut footage" (on the outer wrapping), it should be noted that this material is not in the actual film itself, which is still rated PG-13; rather, it is presented on a separate reel. In all truth, this "uncut" footage is really no big deal. It's simply the usual kinds of edits filmmakers have to make in order to change an R rated film PG-13 if they want a bigger and younger audience. A few seconds here and there of additional bullet wounds, blood spatter and such is basically what's in this work-print footage (which is missing many pieces of insert material). This footage is optionally accompanied by commentary by actor Jason Statham, Steven Chasman, and a few words from Corey Yuen.
The full-screen side of the disc contains a "making-of featurette, which is little more than a promotional piece (running roughly 12 minutes) and the original theatrical trailer that, curious enough, contains a scene neither in the film nor the uncut footage (a rather memorable little clip in which the Transporter deflects a rocket with a breakfast tray).

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

The Transporter is perfect for those times you want a loud, brash, stupid yet technically perfect action film to just entertain you. If you're looking for an action film with substance and careful crafting, however, this is not the place to look. Going in with that mindset, one should easily be able to enjoy its significant merits in the genre of the empty-headed thriller.


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