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THE TRANSPORTER
Special Delivery Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jason Statham, Shu Qi, Francois Berleand, Matt Schulze
Director: Corey Yuen
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 92 Minutes
Release Date: August 23, 2005

ďIím looking for a transporter.Ē

ďIím listening.Ē

Film ***1/2

As the much anticipated Transporter 2 explodes into theaters, the original movie, which is still the best action movie of 2002, and so far of the decade, rides onto DVD in a new Special Delivery Edition.

Like many films of this genre, The Transporter does rely on its action scenes, but in between it manages to have a superb sense of humor of itself, delivering consistent and sharp wit. The movie is, at best, an inspired mixture of James Bond and martial arts, and if you stop to think about it, the lead character is in a way something of an original, and is portrayed in dazzling presence by Jason Statham, who I hope will go on to be one of the top stars of the action genre, because this movie has definitely given him wings.

Statham is Frank Martin, a transporter (delivery man), whose job very much consists of illegal activity, even though itís simple and somewhat harmless. He is paid highly by clients to transport any item or person in his black BMW from one destination to another. Frank also happens to be a former navy SEAL.

He has managed to stay alive by enforcing three crucial rules to his business; never changing a deal, no names, and never looking at what is placed in his trunk to transport. Frank is so cool and efficient in his work that he manages to avoid arrest from the slightly inept Inspector Tarconi (Francois Berleand), who knows Frank and questions him frequently following such a reported incident.

The movie opens with a mind-blowing chase sequence that epitomizes both crazy and cool. Frank has agreed to transport three armed bank robbers. At the time of pickup, there are four men. Frank tells the leader he will not proceed unless there are only three men. The leader then kills off the extra guy, and the chase is on. Frank leads French police on a high speed chase that includes the demise of many chairs and tables, and also makes terrific use of a moving flatbed truck. Throughout this chase, the robbers are screaming their heads off with fear, while Frank stays narrow-eyed and calm to the fullest.

For his latest assignment, Frank is called in to transport a rather large package. He is to deliver it to a wealthy crime lord by the name of Wall Street (Matt Schulze). While en route to the destination, Frank becomes unusually curious and stops to look at what it is he is carrying. It turns out to be that of a frightened and gagged woman, named Lai (Shu Qi). Puzzled but not concerned, he proceeds with his job. But it isnít too long after he is targeted for execution by his new clients who are convinced Frank took notice of what he was carrying, which isnít good.

When you have wall to wall action, itís sometimes good and sometimes headache inducing, but with The Transporter, itís absolutely killer, if youíll pardon the expression. I canít remember the last time I cheered at how awesome action sequences were executed. The last half hour of the movie is a series of knockout action and fighting sequences, cut together at a breakneck pace.

Of all the fiery sequences, the one that stands out is an ingenious fight sequence where Frank, cornered by multiple enemies, manages to defeat his opponents by covering himself with oil. In this sequence, and in others, new techniques are used for both action and humor, with is something I very much appreciated about this movie. The climax, involving the pursuit of cargo trucks on a freeway, is a real heart-stopper, and illustrates why you should never find yourself on top of a sliding car door on the road.

It makes sense that the director of the movie is Corey Yuen, who has served as the fight choreographer on many martial arts films. Yuen was a frequent collaborator with Jet Li, as he choreographed the fight scenes in both Kiss of the Dragon and The One, which Jason Statham happened to have a supporting role in. Itís clear that Statham and Yuen struck a chord with one another and it lead to a fantastic result.

The Transporter, believe it or not, wasnít too far off from making my Ten Best lists for last year, and for a movie of its type, thatís really saying something. The movie is an action loverís dream, in addition to those seeking pure high-powered entertainment.

Video ****

For this new release, Fox has done the right thing and offered only the widescreen version of the movie. The anamorphic picture quality is thoroughly clear and alive with an amazing level of detail, allowing the energetic cinematography to look even more outstanding. The colors are fantastic, and there is not a single image flaw to be detected. The movie is, yet again, a marvelous presentation on the DVD format.

Audio ****

Not only does this disc include the same banging and boominí 5.1 mix, but Fox has even supplied this one with a DTS 5.1 track, which I can say was even more explosive than the mix I was so use to hearing. This is far and away one of the best action movies Iíve ever experienced from an audio perspective on DVD. Everything from action to music to simple dialogue delivery gets top notch treatment. This remains a great sound system rocker, and a perfect movie to show off your system when friends are over.

Features ****

Thereís more than enough to give this an upgraded rating from the last reason. First off, the fact that you donít have to flip the disc to get to all the extras is a big bonus. Featured on the disc is a brand new behind the scenes documentary, along with the featurette from the original disc. Thereís also a commentary track with Jason Statham and producer Steven Chasman, storyboard comparisons, extended fight sequences with optional commentary, and a special look at the making of Transporter 2.

Also, while supplies last, the disc will come with a free ticket to see Transporter 2. Be sure to take advantage of it!

Summary:

The Transporter is back and more explosive than ever on DVD. If you havenít gotten around to see this movie, or even see it on DVD, this new Special Delivery Edition from Fox serves as the absolute best reason to check out one of the best action movies of the decade.

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