Theatrical release poster with original release date
|Music by||Stanley Clarke|
|Edited by||Nicolas Trembasiewicz|
|Box office||$43.9 million|
The Transporter (French: Le Transporteur) is a 2002 English-language French action film directed by Corey Yuen and Louis Leterrier (who is credited as artistic director on the project), and written by Luc Besson, who was inspired by BMW Films' The Hire series. The film stars Jason Statham as Frank Martin, a driver for hire – a mercenary "transporter" who will deliver anything, anywhere – no questions asked – for the right price. It also stars Shu Qi as Lai Kwai.
Frank Martin (Statham) is a highly skilled driver known as "The Transporter." He will transport anything, no questions asked, always on time, and is the best in the business. He strictly follows three rules when transporting: Don't change the deal, No names, and Never open the package.
In Nice, Frank is hired to transport three bank robbers with his black BMW 735i, but they hoist a fourth man in his car after the robbery. Explaining the extra weight will affect his precisely planned getaway, he refuses to drive until, in desperation, the leader kills one of his men who is pushed out of the car. Later they offer more money for Frank to drive them to Avignon. He refuses the deal. The robbers escape in another car but are foiled by their amateur driving.
At Frank's villa on the Mediterranean, local Police Inspector Tarconi (Berléand) questions Frank about the black BMW that fled the scene of the robbery. However, with no real proof, Tarconi leaves. Frank is then hired to deliver a package of 50 kilograms (110 lb) to an American, Darren "Wall Street" Bettencourt (Schulze), that is loaded into Frank's trunk. While changing a flat tire, Frank notices the package moving. Realizing a person is inside, he violates Rule No. 3 in order to give the person something to drink. He discovers a woman, who is tied up and also gagged with tape on her mouth (Shu Qi). She attempts to escape but Frank recaptures her and returns her to the trunk along with two policemen who spot them.
Frank delivers the package to Bettencourt as promised and agrees to transport a briefcase for him. Frank stops to buy sodas for the cops in his trunk, but they are killed by the bomb hidden in the briefcase. Out for vengeance, Frank returns to Bettencourt's villa, where he kills and wounds several of Bettencourt's henchmen. Frank then steals a car to get away, only to find "the package" bound and tapegagged in the back seat. He brings the young woman, who is named Lai, back to his house.
Bettencourt visits one of his surviving men in hospital in order to determine who attacked his residence, before killing the man after discovering that Frank is alive. The next day, Tarconi arrives and asks about Frank's car, which Frank claims was stolen. Lai says she is Frank's new cook and, afterwards, girlfriend, supporting Frank's alibi. Tarconi again leaves with no proof. Shortly after, Bettencourt's henchmen rain missiles down on the house. Frank and Lai barely escape, using scuba gear, to a nearby safe house Frank has prepared for such contingencies. Frank is irritated by all the chaos, but Lai makes it up to him by seducing him.
While being questioned at the police station, Lai accesses Tarconi's computer to find information on Bettencourt. Lai tells Frank that Bettencourt is a human trafficker with 400 Chinese (including her family) trapped in shipping containers. Lai and Frank go to Bettencourt's office, where Bettencourt reveals that Lai's father, Kwai (Young), is also a human trafficker and that they are partners. Kwai arrives and his henchmen subdue Frank. When Tarconi arrives, Kwai and Bettencourt accuse Frank of kidnapping Lai. Tarconi has Frank arrested and locked up in the station.
Realizing Frank would not be constrained by search warrants, Tarconi agrees to aid Frank's escape as his faux hostage. Frank then tracks the criminals to the docks, where they load the containers onto trucks. However, Frank is spotted and is forced to fight his way through the guards, and fails to stop the trucks. He then steals a small airplane and parachutes onto one of the trucks. After a lengthy fight, Frank manages to kill Bettencourt and some of his henchmen, only to be ambushed by Kwai once he gets out of the truck. However, Frank is saved when Lai reluctantly shoots her father. Afterwards, Tarconi arrives with the police, and they rescue the people trapped inside the two containers.
- Jason Statham as Frank Martin
- Shu Qi as Lai Kwai
- François Berléand as Inspector Tarconi
- Matt Schulze as Darren "Wall Street" Bettencourt
- Ric Young as Mr. Kwai
- Didier Saint Melin as Boss
- Jean-Marie Paris as Giant Thug
- Adrian Dearnell as Newscaster
- Vincent Nemeth as Pilot
Cut and uncut releases
The film was cut to receive a PG-13 rating in the United States, and this version was also released in the United Kingdom and several other countries. Japan and France received the uncut versions. Certain sequences of violence were either cut or toned down for the PG-13 cut. These include:
- The fight on the bus, which included Frank using a knife.
- The final fight on the highway, where Frank fights Wall Street in the truck. In the original French version, Wall Street is crushed beneath the wheels of the truck after Frank throws him from it. In the US PG-13 version, he is simply thrown out of the truck and onto the highway.
The uncut fight on the bus can be seen in the "Extended Fight Sequences" on the North American DVD, but with no sound.
The Japanese region-free Blu-ray cut of this film has the original uncut French version of the film. It also has several special features and deleted scenes. However, it does not include the North American special feature of the uncut fight scenes (with no sound). The uncut version of Transporter 2 is also included in this special boxed set.
- "Tweet – Boogie 2Nite"
- "Nate Dogg – I Got Love"
- "Sacario featuring Angie Martinez and Fat Joe – Live Big (Remix)"†
- "Benzino – Rock The Party"†
- "Knoc-Turn'al – Muzik"
- "Angie Martinez featuring Lil' Mo and Sacario – If I Could Go!"†
- "Tamia – Be Alright"†
- "Missy Elliott – Scream AKA Itchin'"
- "Gerald Levert – Funny"†
- "Hustlechild – I'm Cool"†
- "Keith Sweat – One on One"†
- "Nadia – Life of a Stranger"
† indicates that the song did not appear in the film
The DVD version was released on 23 October 2003. It included fifteen minutes of extended fight scene footage and a feature-length commentary. On 23 August 2005, the film was released again in a "Special Delivery Edition". This version included all the features of the original release plus a new behind-the-scenes documentary, a making-of featurette, and a storyboard-to-film comparison. The film was also released as a part of "The Transporter Collection", which featured the first two films in the series. A Blu-ray format was released on November 14, 2006.
The Transporter received mixed reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 54% based on reviews from 127 critics, with an average rating of 5.6 out of 10, with the site's consensus: "The Transporter delivers the action at the expense of coherent storytelling." At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 51 based on 27 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Manohla Dargis, of the Los Angeles Times, complimented the action, saying, "[Statham] certainly seems equipped to develop into a mid-weight alternative to Vin Diesel. That's particularly true if he keeps working with director Corey Yuen, a Hong Kong action veteran whose talent for hand-to-hand mayhem is truly something to see."
Roger Ebert wrote a negative review, stating, "Too much action brings the movie to a dead standstill." Eric Harrison, of the Houston Chronicle, says, "It's junk with a capital J. The sooner you realize that, the more quickly you can settle down to enjoying it."
- "The Transporter (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 4 November 2002. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
- "The Transporter (2001)". en.unifrance.org.
- "The Transporter (2002)". JP's Box-Office. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
- "The Transporter". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
- "The Transporter". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
- "The Transporter". Metacritic. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
- Dargis, Manohla (2002-10-11). "'The Transporter'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2002-10-15. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
- Ebert, Roger (11 October 2002). "The Transporter". Chicago Sun Times. Archived from the original on 3 August 2006. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Harrison, Eric (November 12, 2004). "The Transporter". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on January 14, 2009. Retrieved May 1, 2010.