The Transporter (2002)
I was quite surprised that Corey Yuen got the directors chair in a Hollywood funded movie... his directorial efforts in the past have been inconsistent at best. I'm pretty sure they hadn't seen So Close before greenlighting the project, for example. Since I had, I was prepared for the worst with THE TRANSPORTER.
This was probably good preparation, because I came away from the movie happy. The plot is a load of nonsense filled with holes and cliche, but it's a lot of fun. It's an Action Movie with capital letters, and at times it feels almost like a bigger budget higher gloss Hong Kong movie... it has that sense of 'anything goes'. And of a script that took less than 30 minutes to write.
Jason Statham is an impressive lead - always good to see an Englishman getting paid. He has charisma and extremely large muscles, which is all that's really required. The villainous bad guy had even more presence though - he was a definite scene stealer, and at times it was tempting to root for him instead. Shu Qi is great here, too - she handles the English dialogue much better than I expected. It's quite impressive how a young Taiwanese girl can go from producing her own nudie videos to Hollywood leading lady - it shows there's more to the girl than just those lips.
The dramatic direction from Corey Yuen is markedly, even suspiciously, better than in SO CLOSE. There are still a couple of cringeworthy moments, but overall it feels at least competent. Perhaps having Luc Besson as producer helped guide his direction (though it didn't do much good for KISS OF THE DRAGON's director).
The action scenes are not as good as SO CLOSE, unfortunately, despite Jason Statham clearly being in physically much better shape than the SO CLOSE babes. Because he's so big he's perhaps a little slow and awkward though, so the action isn't always as fluid. Or perhaps it's just because they didn't use wires and every-frame's-a-cut editing here. Even though there's some interesting and inventive settings for the action, the style is a bit more mundane. It's still action well above the average though.
Oh, interestingly enough the scene from the trailer where Statham deflects a rocket with a tray didn't make it into the final cut. Shame, I quite liked that (ridiculous as it was).
My conclusion - it's worth your money to see THE TRANSPORTER. If you're going to watch a Hollywood action movie, then this is probably your best bet - it's at least a lot of fun, and more like a Hong Kong action movie than anything Hong Kong has offered for a while!