François Berléand

The Transporter (2002, Corey Yuen)

Matt Schulze worked again? Wow, I’m a little surprised. Schulze’s performance in The Transporter–wait, hold on, physical presence might be a more accurate description–is one of the worst things about the film. There really aren’t very many good things about it, though, to be fair to Schulze (is he worse than leading lady Shu Qi, yes, but a lot worse, no). It’s not really a disaster or a train wreck or a peculiarity, it’s just a waste of time.

The biggest culprit is Corey Yuen, who’s got to be one of the worst directors ever to make a film released theatrically by a major studio. Even if Fox just picked up Transporter, come on, he’s awful. He doesn’t understand the script, which might be the biggest problem, if one forgives his utterly lame composition and the rapid-fire editing of the action scenes (even if Jason Statham didn’t know martial arts and they created them in the editing, à la Matt Damon in the Bourne movies, it’d be better), the lack of expression is damning. The script has all these fantastic jokes and Yuen is dead to all of them. It’s tragic. Tragic.

Statham’s great, he and François Berléand are great together. They almost make this nonsense tolerable, then Shu Qi shows up, with writer slash producer Luc Besson objectifying her (and her awful performance) for a prospective American audience.

The Transporter also should not have been shot in Panavision aspect ratio, but good luck with that one.



Directed by Corey Yuen; written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen; director of photography, Pierre Morel; edited by Nicolas Trembasiewicz; music by Stanley Clarke; production designer, Hugues Tissandier; produced by Besson and Steve Chasman; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Jason Statham (Frank Martin), Shu Qi (Lai), Matt Schulze (Wall Street), François Berléand (Inspector Tarconi) and Ric Young (Mr. Kwai).

Transporter 3 (2008, Olivier Megaton)

When an action movie franchise hits the third one (X-Men, Lethal Weapon), they generally know what they’re doing and who they’re making the movie for and instead of producing some wonted exercise, members of this illustrious group of sequels are assured, affable and a lot of fun. The Transporter series is a constant disappointment, since it puts Jason Statham’s likability above his acting ability–so it’s a real surprise to see it join that group.

The film opens with him and sidekick François Berléand fishing together (it’s one of those almost meta moments in fiction, like the Star Trek trio camping) and, even with the lousy editing, it’s lovely. Olivier Megaton’s got some good composition and he can handle a conversation, but the editing is just atrocious–lots of speeding up and slowing down–the fight scenes with Statham are boring. In some ways, it’s a terrible use of Panavision.

Luc Besson, co-writing again, finally gets to put his romance angle in one of the Transporter entries significantly, with love interest Natalya Rudakova. Like most of Besson’s love interests, the age difference between her and her lover is questionable (though not as much as The Professional). But Rudakova turns out to be a real find. She plays the role like an established Russian actress doing her first English language role and she’s not. It’s her first (and, unfortunately, only) film.

Berléand’s great as always, Jeroen Krabbé’s cashing a paycheck, Robert Knepper isn’t a terrible villain.

It’s good stuff.



Directed by Olivier Megaton; written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen; director of photography, Giovanni Fiore Coltellacci; edited by Camille Delamarre and Carlo Rizzo; music by Alexandre Azari; production designer, Patrick Durand; produced by Besson and Steve Chasman; released by Lionsgate.

Starring Jason Statham (Frank Martin), Natalya Rudakova (Valentina), François Berléand (Inspector Tarconi), Robert Knepper (Johnson), Jeroen Krabbé (Leonid Vasilev) and Timo Dierkes (Otto).

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