The Transporter

The Transporter (2002) movie poster

(2002) dir. Corey Yuen
viewed: 10/12/02 at Selma Theater, Selma, CA

The Transporter is a slick, relatively lean action flick with car chases, explosions, and Hong Kong-influenced fight sequences.

The film seems a sort of a re-envisioning of the fight-heavy action films of the 80’s (e.g. Chuck Norris, early Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc.), with a more suave (read: English/European) hero with a slightly more noir-ish character (the hero is a top-notch criminal with a sense of right and wrong).

It’s not an entirely bad idea. Since The Matrix (1999) integrated HK-style kung fu into Hollywood action films, it seems that all films or genres that incorporate any “mano y mano” fight sequences also must now have the new “look and feel” of the Kung Fu-influenced contemporary style.

The Transporter was co-written and produced by Luc Besson, who once had a sense of action film zeitgeist (La Femme Nikita (1990) & The Professional (1994)), and directed by Corey Yuen, who has helmed a number of HK films (of which I have seen a few). And it stars Jason Statham (of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch fame) as its muscular, stylish tough guy. There is a sense of multi-nationalism to the project, but one might attribute that more to marketing angles (selling the film in many of these locations) more than to some coherent message behind the film.

The film seems to try to be a love story at the heart of a lot of fighting, explosions and car chases. And while this love story doesn’t seem to work particularly, the portrayal of the characters reads simply enough. Unfortunately it is one rife with sexual stereotypes, so it seems. After being rescued by her terse, manly Transporter, the “transported” Qi Shu heads to the kitchen to ingratiate herself, baking her rescuer some Madelines. She seems a very unenligtened female character. I would posit that one of the current hallmarks of an action film allows that female characters should be allowed to “kick ass” as much as their male counterparts, and even if not, certainly not play roles of pure damsels in distress, homemaking, etc.

I guess that this was my biggest problem with this film, that though it had a slick and modern look and while the action was entertainingly shot, it lacked the depth or spirit or character of something that should feel so “contemporary”. It truly made me think of the action films of the 80’s and of how we have not come very far obviouly.

All this said, it was not a totally unsatisfying piece of escapism, just not a particularly interesting one.

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