Action movies are, for the most part, supposed to be little more than big dumb fun. However, most of the recent spate of action films have only managed to live up to the first two words in that description.
Surprisingly, the European co-production "The Transporter" is one of the increasingly few action-thrillers that get the "fun" part right as well.
Although the film was made and financed in Europe, it's very Hong Kong in both its concept and execution (which is perhaps not so surprising since the director is Corey Yuen, a star in his homeland). Which is not to say that it's up there with such Hong Kong classics as John Woo's "The Killer" or Jackie Chan's "Supercop." But it is exciting and well-paced, and it may mark the arrival of a new action star in the person of British actor Jason Statham.
Statham stars as the title character, Frank Martin, an ex-Special Forces soldier who is, in essence, a highly paid getaway driver. His latest assignment is to transport a "package" no questions asked.
However, he makes the mistake of checking out the bumping and thumping in his car's trunk, which turns out to be a young Asian woman, Lai (Taiwanese actress Shu Qi).
Frank drops her off at the destination, but he suddenly finds himself targeted by his employers criminals who turn out to be so bad that even he's beginning to question his loyalties.
There's more to the story, but it's best to overlook the obvious plot holes and nonsensical character developments. Yuen keeps the action coming fast and furious, starting with a particularly wild car chase that kicks off the movie in terrific fashion and continuing with a clever fight featuring automotive lubricants.
Also, Statham (from the cult hit "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels") has the required physicality for the role. (Much of the action is done by doubles, but he does handle some of his own stunts.)
"The Transporter" is rated PG-13 for strong action violence (martial-arts combat, gunplay and explosive mayhem), occasional use of strong profanity and some suggestive sex talk, brief gore and brief sexual contact. Running time: 91 minutes.