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The Transporter Review

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Ex-soldier Frank Martin now makes a living on the French Riviera as an underworld courier who has strict rules of operation: never change the deal, never use real names, never look inside the package. But when he breaks his own code, he quickly becomes the target of a vicious human smuggling ring.

★★★★★

Three things to do with a PhD:
a) use it for self-improvement;
b) use it for the betterment of mankind; or
c) say “bollocks” to it all and write a bunch of action movies.

Tough choice, but if you’re Robert Mark Kamen, co-screenwriter of The Transporter and proud owner of a PhD in Anthropology, it’s gotta be c).

Kamen’s got a nice line in churning out cheap, cheerful, chop-socky movies (first Kiss Of The Dragon, now this) along with writer-producer Luc Besson. And don’t get us wrong — we’re grateful. Even if it’s pretty evident after ten minutes that PhD stands for “pretty hokey dialogue”. Or is that “plot hardly discernible”?

No matter. The Transporter exists purely to turn our very own Jason Statham into an action star capable of putting the willies up Vin Diesel. It succeeds admirably.

Post-Ghosts Of Mars, if anyone had suggested that big, bald, brusque Jase could hold his own as an action hero, they’d have been laughed out of town. And while he doesn’t exactly deliver an acting masterclass (his ‘American’ accent doesn’t quite stand up to the rigours of actually opening his mouth and talking), this is all about kicking ass and taking names.

And the model-turned-actor is impressive enough — athletic, powerful and displaying hitherto unseen martial arts prowess — to deserve a crack at bigger things.

Here, though, his character starts out with an intriguing amorality, but quickly becomes Mr. Bog Standard Action Guy, taking on hordes of villains armed at times merely with a sweater and, in one hilarious scene, an oil slick and bike pedals.

If all that improvisational guff sounds very Jackie Chan, that’s deliberate. The spirit of Hong Kong action movies hangs heavily over The Transporter, most notably in the CG-free fight scenes which, thanks to former fight choreographer Yuen, have enough zing and originality to satisfy even Hong Kong aficionados. Helpfully, they also take your mind off the nonsense in between, complete with dreadful dialogue from Robert Mark Kamen.

He has a PhD, you know.

Statham impresses in a movie that is simultaneously the best (the fight scenes) and worst (everything else) action movie of the year. Destined for drunken Friday night rental heaven.

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