Eight years before knife wielding Lee Christmas (Expendables), there was driver extraordinaire, Frank Martin. Jason Statham makes his debut as a protagonist and rising action star in this 2002 fast, furious and fight-tastic film.
Jason Statham plays the star role of Frank Martin, “The Transporter”, chauffeur and all-round British Badass. He is accompanied by the delightfully quaint local police inspector Tarconi, played by Francois Berleand, while Shu Qi plays the damsel in distress Lai Kwai.
Together this band of misfits take on Matthew Schulze, the sarcastically villainous “Wall Street” and Ric Young (as Lai’s father, Mr Kwai) in a struggle that disrupts the peaceful French Mediterranean.
Frank Martin, an ex-British Special Forces operative, is the driver for hire, known only to his clients as “The Transporter”. Adhering to a “no questions asked” policy and his three sacred rules (no changing the deal, no names required, and never look inside the package), Frank embarks on exciting yet dangerous jobs behind the wheel of his sleek, black BMW 735.
Living a cosy life in the French Mediterranean, Frank’s dubious occupation as “The Transporter” has caught the attention of police inspector Tarconi, who believes there is more to Mr Martin than meets the eye. Along the journey of a delivery job, Frank changes a flat tyre on his car, which causes him to break his rule of never looking inside the package. The package (an over-size gym bag) contains the beautiful Lai Kwai, whom Frank demonstrates compassion towards by letting her pee at the expense of him arriving at his destination somewhat later than previously agreed.
Upon his arrival, Frank’s client, “Wall Street”, praises Frank for his professionalism and makes a request for another package to be delivered. However, on this occasion the package is of a more explosive nature! Miraculously surviving the assassination attempt on his life, caused by breaking one of his own rules; a high octane, ass-kicking, bullet flying exchange between transporter and client ensues with more than the life of the lovely Lai Kwai hanging in the balance. With his car and home blown to kingdom come in the process, Frank requests the aid of inspector Tarconi as he attempts to foil Wall Street and Mr Kwai’s human trafficking operation.
Statham, who appears to be in great shape, exhibits acrobatic athleticism, fancy lock-holds and legwork that leave audiences stunned. With this level of precision techniques it comes as no surprise to learn that the man behind these thrilling fight sequences is legendary stunt choreographer, Cory Yuen.
Under Yuen’s guidance, Statham utilizes a series of side-kicks, roundhouses, and spinning hook kicks from his kickboxing arsenal when surrounded by multiple opponents in open spaces and impressive trapping and grappling techniques from his sleight of hand wing chun skills when stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard fist.
He also proves that he’s an expert at spatial awareness through the combining of martial arts and the everyday objects stationed in his surroundings.
Whether he’s storming Wall Street’s house, knifing assailants on a packed bus or slipping and sliding in a garage greased from head to toe in engine oil (making him a very slippery target), Statham delivers a hypnotically impressive combination of moves for every occasion.
All in all Statham shows he’s got what it takes to stand shoulder to shoulder with other martial arts action stars the calibre of Jean Claude Van Damme, Jet Li, Scott Adkins, and even Chuck Norris. This film is a must have whether you’re a lover of the martial arts or a stickler for driving skills that easily rival Top Gear’s “The Stig”.
- Jason Statham represented England as an Olympic diver in the 1990 New Zealand Common Wealth Games and the 1992 World Championships held in Barcelona.
- The Transporter story was written by Luc Besson, who is also the writer of the blistering, kinetic action sensation “Kiss of the Dragon” starring Jet Li.
- Both films were released in the same year.