The movie that made Jason Statham an action star, Transporter is a fun, loaded action flick. It may be incredibly over-the-top, but that’s the point. Statham plays the role of Frank Martin with a sly smile and dry anger that suits his acting style perfectly.
Corey Yuen directs, having starred in numerous Hong Kong action films, along with directing them. His influence is obvious, with rapid fire action scenes bringing an energy rarely seen in American fight sequences. Statham’s ability to quickly react gives the choreography an edge, while the innovation makes each fight memorable.
Transporter will probably be remembered for its wildly fun oil fight, and the close quarters bus fight. Both are stunning pieces of action cinema, both from a technical standpoint and visually. The film also delivers in terms of gunplay, making each fire fight a tense and engaging battle. Editing can be too quick, though hardly terrible compared to what this series would become.
Unlike the sequel, this first film does drag in spots. Statham’s interaction with Francois Berleand is hilarious at times, though not enough to carry the film. Qi Shu makes her American acting debut as a cute, spunky Chinese prostitute who causes Statham to break his three rules of transporting. She’s fine, but again, not enough to give the film a story worth caring about. The positive side is that Statham’s character, Frank Martin, is developed leaving plenty of room for action in the sequel.
Action fans will probably keep the Transporter series alive as a cult classic. It offers everything genre fans want, with an extra dose of modern adrenaline to make it something special. It may slow down at times, but it’s wildly fun when it gets going.
Sadly, Fox doesn’t seem to have the same feelings for the movie, or they might have actually cared about this transfer. The film comes off as an ugly mess. Edge enhancement is evident on a regular basis. Artifacting is constant with this MPEG-2 encode. Fluorescent colors are left unchecked, bleeding into each other and blotting out detail. Contrast runs hot enough to completely white out faces on some long shots. Banding is evident during the underwater escape. The positives? Some close ups deliver outstanding detail. Even this is wildly inconsistent.
Thankfully, the audio presentation almost makes the video bearable. This is a robust, engaging DTS-HD mix. Gunfire is aggressive, and the bass outstanding. The rocket launcher assault is a true showcase scene, with explosions, debris, and bullets flying into the house on screen and into your own. The audio never feels forced, but layered realistically to perfectly match the on-screen assault. Nothing feels drowned out, as everything fits into the mix perfectly.
Even though there’s a two disc DVD out there, Fox didn’t see to it that those extras made the Blu-ray trip. All that’s included is an admittedly detailed commentary from Statham and producer Steve Chasman. Loads of trailers are also included, but that’s hardly an extra.