The Transporter (2002)

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Released 11-Aug-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Audio Commentary-Jason Statham (Actor) and Steven Chasman (Producer)
Additional Footage-Extended Fight Sequences with optional commentary
Featurette-Making Of
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 88:23
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Louis Leterrier
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Jason Statham
Qi Shu
att Schulze
Francois Berleand
Ric Young
Doug Rand
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Stanley Clarke


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Croatian
Czech
Danish
Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Italian
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
Italian Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes, minor
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I reviewed this film at the start of May in its rental version, so now here is my chance to play spot-the-difference with the retail version. Rather than write a new review in full, I have reproduced below my original review, with changes or additional comments made to reflect any difference between the rental and retail versions.

    The Transporter is the epitome of the blokey popcorn movie. It has guns, rockets, fast cars, attractive women and more unbelievable action sequences and martial arts battles than you can shake a bottle of Old Spice at. It is shallow, formulaic and without any real artistic merit. The plot is so thin as to be transparent and the characters are all one-dimensional. I loved it.

    The plot revolves around the dodgy dealings of a transporter - one Frank Martin (Jason Statham, most recognizable for his roles in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch). He picks up a package, or a person at point A and then, in return for a wad of the folding stuff, and utilizing his ninja BMW 735, drops it/them off at point B. Simple enough. Of course, our Frankie isn't employed by the Post Office, so his deliveries tend to involve what some people - like the police - might call illegal transactions.

    To ensure that he never has a problem, Frank follows three simple rules: One - never change the deal, Two - never use names, Three - never open the package. On this occasion, Frank forgoes rule three...and opens the large, wriggling, person-shaped bag inside his trunk, to find a lively, lithe young woman named Lai (played by Shu Qi) inside.

    Aiming to complete his assignment, Frank delivers Lai into the hands of Wall Street (Matt Schulze). After accepting a transporting job from Street, which results in his trusty Beemer exploding in a deafening fireball, Frank decides to go back and express his slight annoyance with the current state of affairs. Needless to say, Mr Street does not welcome Frank's return visit and he soon falls foul of Street and his many, many expert martial-artist gun-toting goons. Escaping to the sanctuary of his coastal house, Lai and Frank are subject to a rocket attack from Street, which results in his house joining his Beemer in the afterlife. Determined to uncover the reasons behind the attempts on Frank's life, the stage is set for the remainder of the movie. The plot evolves to uncover a story of people-smuggling, and the film moves swiftly from one action set-piece to the next, keeping up a ripping pace until the credits roll.

    The dialogue is not very inventive, and there is little character development. Frank and Lai have the inevitable love-scene but this is not explored in any detail and doesn't really have much bearing on the rest of the film. The only real chemistry between characters is twixt Frank and the local French Detective Tarconi (Francois Berleand).

    Some of the fight set-pieces are huge fun (oil wrestling anyone?), and there are some genuinely inventive gun battles and hand-to-hand combat scenes throughout the film. Jason Statham looks every inch the part, and his martial arts fights are exceptionally good. This movie should not be taken too seriously - indeed the handling of opening bank-robbery scene suggests to me that the movie was made with tongue firmly in cheek.

    You will learn nothing from this movie.
    It will not leave you pondering a deeper meaning.
    It will not have you discussing the sub-text over a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
    It will however, leave your head spinning, ears thumping and a wry blokey smile on your face.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The overall video transfer of this disc is very good with only a few problems noted. Some of the flaws noted in my review of the rental disc are still applicable (the edge enhancement in particular), but it has an average bitrate of just over 6.3 Mb/s whereas the rental version averaged just over 5.3 Mb/s so this transfer might be expected to be slightly improved.

    The film is once again presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 which is close to the original theatrical ratio of 2.39:1. It has been 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is usually razor sharp, particularly during outdoor scenes along the beautiful French Riviera coastline. In the rental version, at the start of chapter ten, when Frank returns to the house of Wall Street after his car has been destroyed, the camera switches from a sharp outdoor shot to the house interior. On several interior shots during this sequence, around 21:27, the markedly grainy appearance jars with the ultra-sharpness of the remainder of the film. In the sell-through version, this grain seems less noticeable, although it is still present.

    Blacks are still rock solid with no low-level noise evident and shadow detail is very good indeed. Colours remain natural and clean with no evidence of colour bleeding and the skin tones look very natural throughout.

    The transfer is free from significant MPEG artefacts, although fleeting and minor instances of pixelization can still sometimes be seen. Film-to-video artefacts are more common and the transfer continues to suffer from some noticeable edge enhancement, for instance on the house and actors at 42:13. The minor aliasing present in the rental version appears to be less noticeable on this disc.

    I did manage to spot a couple of minor film artefacts this time. The most noticeable was a fleeting scratch at 42:15, but this remains an extremely clean transfer.

    The English for the Hearing Impaired subtitle track is well timed and, with only the odd dropped word, is true to the spoken dialogue (and incidental sound effects).

    The retail version of this disc is presented on a dual layered, single sided (DVD 9) disc, unlike the DVD 5 format of the rental version, but I could not detect the layer change. It is possible that it is located between the feature and the extras.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The overall audio quality of this disc is outstanding and is of reference quality.

    The main audio track is once again an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack in English recorded at 448 kbps. It is joined on this version by an Italian track, in Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 384 kbps.

    Dialogue was sometimes unclear, but this was due to the heavy French accents rather than any defect in the recording process (although the music track does occasionally border on the over-loud). Talking of accents, I wish Statham could have decided which accent he was supposed to be using, alternating between an American and an English accent which was (for me) quite irritating. Audio sync is good throughout.

    The original music is credited to Stanley Clarke and it does an acceptable job throughout. The use of various forgettable techno/rap/house tunes with a distinct Euro twist adds to the overall hip feel of the movie and generally blends quite well with the on-screen action. Just to keep it interesting, there are also some classical passages thrown into the mix.

    The surround channels were massively active throughout, carrying a constant barrage of music, bass and some excellent directional sound effects. Particularly noteworthy is the use to which they are put in the numerous car chase and gunfight scenes, for example the bullet effects at 27:35. This remains one of the most immersive audio tracks I have heard on a DVD, and it adds immensely to the ambience of the movie.

    The subwoofer was almost never silent. As well as the bass-heavy soundtrack, there are some phenomenal explosion effects, for example during the bomb explosion at 26:59 and the rocket attack around 44:38. This a great movie to demonstrate the power of your subwoofer, and your 5.1 set-up in general.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This is the sell-though version of the film, and as would be expected, it does contain some bonus extras (unlike the bare-bones rental version).

Menu

    The initial menu is a still a silent, static photograph of Statham and his trusty Beemer. This is a different photograph than the one used on the rental disc. It offers the choice of language selection, which on this version includes an Italian as well as the English audio track, plus a range of subtitles, selecting one of twenty-eight chapter stops or access to the following special features:

Commentary

    The commentary track is provided by Statham and producer Steven Chasman. Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 kbps, this is mildly entertaining although there are numerous silent passages. One piece of trivia which amazed me is that Statham's wonderful (light)house was built on a piece of vacant land just for the movie!

Extended Fight Scenes

    Three extended scenes are presented with optional commentary from Statham, Chasman and Corey Yuen (translated by someone else). They are rough-cuts obviously, with time codes visible and less than perfect video quality. The clips are not 16x9 enhanced and the commentary tracks are encoded at 192 kbps in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Making of Featurette

    Presented fullscreen with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps, this featurette runs for 12:05. It is quite well put together and reveals the difficulties which arose from having Chinese, English, American and French leading actors - plus a Chinese and a French crew! Statham comes across as an affable, modest and genuine bloke. My admiration for his abilities increased when I heard about how much effort he put in to make himself a success in this film.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 sell-through version of this DVD appears to contain the same extras as the Region 1 sell-through release. Get whichever is cheaper.

Summary

    The Transporter is an archetypal blokes movie. I enjoyed watching it again as much as I did on the first viewing. It is still utterly mindless, violent and corny fun. The movie has little artistic merit - it is purely and simply an all-out, full-on, no-holds-barred action-fest. Watch it with no expectations of anything but tongue-in-cheek action and some d*** loud noises.

    The video quality is once again very good indeed.

    I still feel that the audio quality is outstanding, and is of reference quality.

    The extras are a worthwhile addition to the disc, but will be of most interest to fans of the movie. They offer little insight for fans of movies in general.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Sunday, August 03, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Rocket Deflecter Cut!! - Brett C (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
tiger beer product placement? - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
French DVD is the best one - Fabi