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Film: The Transporter

Transportation is a precise business.
Frank

Rule 1: The deal is the deal. The conditions of the deal will not be changed after it has been confirmed.
Rule 2: No names.
Rule 3: Never look in the package.

The Transporter is 2002 action film starring Jason Statham as Frank Martin: a gruff, ex-military man who is in the "transporting" business. Give him the money, the measurements, and the time and he'll get your stuff from A to B. Frank has a set of rules, one of which includes: "Never open the package". However, whilst transporting a large bag from a somewhat unsavory client, Frank discovers an Asian woman named Lai stuffed inside his cargo. He is visibly bothered by this and allows her the basic opportunities of food and bathroom time (during which she tries to escape) but ultimately ends up delivering her to the Bad Guys anyway. Because he looked in the package the bad guys try to kill him and from there, hilarity ensues.

The first film was a stylish (it was written by Luc Besson, after all), fast-paced action romp, directed and choreographed by another frequent Jet Li collaborator, Cory Yuen. The second and third movies dispensed with any pretensions of realism and are considerably more over the top. The series is notable for putting Statham on the map, as well as setting the template for pretty much all of his subsequent roles.

Nothing to do with Teleporters and Transporters. Or Transformers.

These movies feature examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Lai's dad takes this to new levels, what with apparently trying to sell his daughter into slavery.
  • Agent Peacock: Wall Street.
  • All There in the Manual: Wall Street's real name is Darren Bettencourt.
  • Ambiguously Gay: The director of the second movie has stated that Frank is gay, but it's only written in on the subtext level. Inspector Tarconi's description of his relationship with Frank makes them sound like a gay couple, and Frank turns down the advances of Audrey Billings, but that could just as easily be because she's tipsy, emotionally vulnerable, and married to his employer. It's also contradicted by the events of the other movies, where he sleeps with women and (in 3) says he's not the gay.
  • Anti-Hero: More overt in the first film.
  • Artistic License:Physics: Can a set of bicycle pedals strapped to your feet actually allow good footing on a oily/greasy floor? Not really.
  • Ax-Crazy: Lola.
    "Actually, my problem's not medical. (points gun in medical receptionist's face) It's psychological." (shoots)
  • Badass: Would be easier to list the characters who aren't.
  • Badass Driver: Frank.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Frank, Wall Street in the first movie.
  • Badass in Distress: Lai is a subtle example; she gets herself into Frank's car despite being Bound and Gagged to a swivel chair, manipulates the situation so he's compelled to help her, then shoots dead the man holding her prisoner in time to save Frank from being killed by her father, whom she also kills.
  • Bad Boss / You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The 4 bank robbers at the beginning of the film are quietly reminded by the Transporter that the conditions to using his car as a getaway car is that there is to be 3 bank robbers due to their weight, which with an added body would counter the shock absorbers he has installed. So, one of the bank robbers shoots another in the head and tosses him out the door. And for added effect reiterates the deal in a desperate manner. They get caught anyway, but only some time after Frank has successfully evaded the police and delivered them to their drop-off point.
    • In 3 Johnson subverts the Affably Evil trope by shooting dead a mook who earlier had failed to 'recruit' Frank by force, and who interrupts his politely 'persuading' Frank to work for him.
    Johnson: Find someone smarter.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop
  • Bait and Switch: In the opening of Transporter 2 Frank carves through a gang of carjackers to get to a prior engagement. It looks like another bank job as in the beginning of the first movie only for the doors to open and a horde of schoolkids to run out. In the next movie the 'package' turns out to be the girl who's in the car with Frank, not the bags the villains put in the trunk.
  • Beard of Evil: Wall Street and one of his thugs (the sort-of Giant Mook) in the first movie.
  • Between My Legs: Psycho for Hire Lola gives us a good look at her red Combat Stilettos before using Guns Akimbo on the protagonist for the first time.
    • This is also featured on one version of the movie poster and possibly DVD cover.
  • Big Bad: Lai's father in the first film, Chillini in the second.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Possibly. It's never made clear whether Lai's dad was Wall Street's boss or if the latter is The Dragon.
  • Bigger Bad: The Columbian cartels who foot Chillini's bill in the second film.
  • Blatant Lies: It is subtly implied that Tarconi knows that Frank is actually involved in every thing he interrogates him about, but always chooses to play dumb.
  • Blondes are Evil: Lola
  • Blood Knight: Wall Street, who tells Frank to "keep alive" so they can finish their fight.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted in Transporter 2 when the mooks riddle Frank's car with bullets, then rush to get more ammunition which is locked in the garage. Unfortunately, so is Frank.
  • Bound and Gagged: Lai, the 'package' in the first movie.
  • Brick Joke: The bank robbers in the first movie offer Frank more money to take them the rest of the way. Frank refuses because it breaks Rule #1. Later he's watching a news report which shows the robbers were caught after driving the wrong way down a one-way street.
  • Bullet Dodge: Frank does this even without Matrix-style superpowers! (in 2 when the Russian biowarfare scientist shoots at him in the corridor).
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Half the villains border on this. It's part of the fun.
  • Car Chase: Spoofed in 3 when Frank chases a mook who's stolen his car with a bicycle. Played straight with the Ukrainian intelligence team.
  • Car Fu: Taken to ridiculous levels. He jumps on a ramp, makes a barrel roll so he could have the bomb under his car snatched by a crane's hook.
  • Car Skiing: In Transporter 3, Frank skis between two semi trucks during an escape sequence.
  • The Cartel: Chillini's employers in the second movie.
  • Casual Kink: Valentina forces Frank to take off his clothes, saying it's not just men who like striptease.
    Frank: You know what I'm going to do to you for making me do this?
    Valentina: Spank me.
    Frank: For starters.
    Valentina: Tie me up?
    Frank: You'd like that, wouldn't you?
    Valentina: I like the rough stuff. (Frank grabs her) Not too rough!
  • The Coats Are Off: In Transporter 2, Frank carefully takes off his jacket, folds it and puts it on the hood of his car (declaring that he'd just had it dry-cleaned), before proceeding to wipe the floor with the teenagers who tried to steal his car. In 3 he uses his coat, tie and shirt as Improvised Weapons during the garage fight. Fanservice ensues.
  • Continuity Nod: When Tarconi is confronted by government officials at Frank's house in Transporter 2, he uses the same excuse Lai gave him in the first movie: "I'm the cook!"
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Lai's dad is a gangster and a "well-respected member of the business community". His partner, appears to be one as well.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Frank vs. Lola.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: A little upsetting, but ultimately predicted in 2. She was married.
    • Averted in '3''. It looks like Frank has gone back to his lonely life with only Tarconi for company, but it turns out Valentina is also in the boat (sleeping out of sight).
  • Diegetic Switch: A stoned Valentina keeps turning on the stereo during the Car Chase.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Well, more like "Doesn't need guns". Most of the time.
  • The Dragon: Wall Street of all people turns out to be The Dragon to Lai's father in the first movie. Points to anyone who saw that coming. Also, Lola is The Dragon to Gianni Chillini in Transporter 2.
  • Driving Into A Truck: In the opening sequence, Martin drives off a bridge onto a moving car carrier, landing on a conveniently empty spot, then knocks off the car behind him and backs back off the truck.
  • Dull Surprise: Frank Martin has two basic moods: beating people up while scowling, and driving really fast while scowling. Sometimes, for variety, he does it with his shirt off.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The various gangs and drug cartels seem very willing to hire people from all sorts of backgrounds.
    • Johnson, the Big Bad of 3, even suggests that Frank join his organisation after he thinks he's won. Nothing personal about being strapped to a bomb, ha-ha.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: First film, a stationary car is T-boned by a car that's braking heavily and travelling slowly. Both violently explode into flames!
    • And again, when two of the Big Bad's cars run into each other in the finale, and explode for no real reason.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Chillini
  • Explosive Leash: In the third movie Frank has a bracelet attached to his wrist that will explode if he gets more than 50 feet from the car. This causes problems when he's hunting down the Big Bad at the end; he has to bring the car with him. Even onto a moving train.
  • Faking the Dead: After the bad guys blow up his house, Frank tells Lai that the pair of them should just vanish and make whoever's after them think they're dead, rather than look for trouble by hunting them down. Lai unfortunately has her own agenda.
  • Fanservice: One in every film! Shu Qi in the first film (in a wet t-shirt and wet panties); Amber Valletta in the second (good lord, she practically asks Frank to look down her top in one scene!); Natalya Rudakova in the third (in a slinky gold lame dress for most of the film, not to mention the red hair and Youthful Freckles).
  • Friend on the Force: Inspector Tarconi
  • Gas Cylinder Rocket: Frank launches one at Lola in the second film.
  • Giant Mook: One appears in all three movies:
    • Downplayed in the first film: One of the villains is an enormous guy complete with Beard of Evil, but is only mildly harder for Frank to defeat than the others.
    • The second movie has a Scary Black Man who's probably the hardest opponent Frank has to contend with.
    • Lampshaded in the third movie.
    Frank Martin: Let me guess. You're the smart one.
    Enormous thug: No. I am the big one.
  • Guile Heroine: Lai tells Frank that she has to save her family, who are refugees being held in a shipping container. Aware that she's not telling the full truth, Frank isn't impressed.
    Frank: You're very good.
    Lai: What do you mean?
    Frank: The moment you saw those pictures in the house you were setting me up to get involved in all this. Breakfast, giving the excuse to the cop to help me, one lie after another.
    Lai: Not everything is a lie.
    Frank: Name one thing that isn't.
  • Guns Akimbo: As noted above, Lola, though memory seems to recall Frank doing this a couple of times. Just look at the poster (pictured above).
  • Hidden Badass: No one seems to expect a simple Transporter to be a Bad Ass former Special Forces operative. And remember the slimy gangster, Wall Street, who tried to have Frank's car blown up at the start of the first movie? The one who's always surrounded by henchmen, and comes off as a sleazy businessman and Dirty Coward? Turns out he's the only guy in the movie capable of giving Frank a half-decent fight. And something of a Blood Knight, what with telling Frank to "keep alive" so they can finish their earlier, aborted fight.
  • How Do You Say
    Gianni: Perhaps I can help you! What part are you a little... how you say, "thick" on?
  • Human Shield: In the first movie after he's arrested Frank gets out of the police station this way, with the help of his detective friend who plays the hostage.
  • I Gave My Word: In 2 Frank has a Rule #4 which is "Never make a promise you can't keep." He promises to protect his young charge; when the boy is kidnapped the Big Bad informs Frank he's going to have to break that rule. Fat chance.
    Jack: Frank, you promised you wouldn't let anybody hurt me! You promised!
    Chillini: Never make promises you can't keep, my friend.
    Frank: I don't.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Lola is impaled on a wall decoration about ten seconds after engaging Frank.
  • Improvised Weapon User: Light fixtures, fire hoses, bicycle pedals, sweaters, motor oil — the list goes on and on. One could call Frank the MacGyver of beating people up.
    • In 2 his weapons include coconuts, fire hoses, and an entire boat being renovated which Frank uses to crush a mook after knocking out the support props (the mook was stuck in the porthole).
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Frank is obviously British, being played by the Stath and all, but he was apparently in the U.S. Special Forces.
  • Kick the Dog: The Dragon in the first film spends most of his screen time kicking dogs in one form or another, starting with murdering one of his men on the off chance that they might talk. And then there's his speech to Frank and Lai in which he calls the latter a lying whore, accuses Frank of being dumb enough to let her trick him, and finishes with the following line about the 400 people they came to save from being smuggled in: "Just for the record there were 400 people in that container. Only three hundred ninety-five made it here alive."
    • The Ukrainian intelligence team in 3 shoot dead a police truck driver just to get their hands on the GPS system, even though they could have just threatened him. This is presumably so we don't feel bothered when Frank sends them over the cliff later on.
  • Kingpin in His Gym: The main villain in the second movie is practicing Kendo against multiple opponents in his introductory scene.
  • Kiss of Life: Frank steals one from a mook in the second movie.
  • Left the Background Music On
  • MacGuffin Escort Mission: Franks's job and the underlying plot of the movies.
  • MacGuffin Guy: Chillini becomes this by drip-feeding the entire remaining antidote into his bloodstream.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Wall Street, Mr. Kwai, Chillini (who is also a Man in White).
  • A Match Made in Stockholm: Frank and Lai in the first film. He delivers her to the bad guys in a bag (letting her out at one point, causing her to nearly escape), and goes back to dole out some revenge when they try to blow him up with his car for breaking the agreement. Frank takes Lai with him (while she's bound) after she snuck into his getaway car. She repays him with sexual favors for this, and also to get him to dismantle her father's human transportation operation. Since he's also responsible for rescuing her, it kinda blends with Rescue Romance.
  • Meaningful Name
    Wall Street: "I tell you, Lai's the perfect name for her."
  • Mud Wrestling: The Oil Fight in the first movie.
  • Mugging the Monster: Transporter 2 opens with a violent gang of carjackers attempting to steal badass courier Frank Martin's car. When they try to beat him into giving them the code to start the car, Frank opens a can of whoopass that leaves the four men on the ground and their female accomplice fleeing in terror.
  • Ms. Fanservice: What doesn't Lola cater for? Gun Porn (is dual-wielded, full-auto silenced Glocks with Laser Sights enough for you?), Shameless Fanservice Girl, Excessive Evil Eyeshadow, Tattooed Crook (on her inner thigh, no less) Combat Stilettos, many a Lingerie Scene (with black garters and Stocking Filler), Sexy Coat Flashing, Hello, Nurse! (hello medical receptionist), Sexy Soaked Shirt (gets wet in clothes in the fire sprinklers) and Sexy Backless Outfit.
  • Not So Different: Chillini tries this on Frank.
  • Obviously Evil: Several examples. Let's see:
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Happens often in the first movie, particularly with Wall Street, his gangs of henchmen and Lai's dad, who all seem to be able to outrun speeding vehicles.
  • One-Man Army: If Frank was in the Special Forces before this comparatively easy job, it sends shivers down one's Goddamn spine of just what the hell he had to fight in the actual battlefields of The Transporter universe. Or the very concept that entire squads of warriors who are of Frank Martin's caliber exist in The Transporter universe....
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Although Wall Street has never met Frank before, he realises when Frank pockets the payment without checking it that he's opened the package (and therefore wants to get her off his hands ASAP).
  • Papa Wolf: Transporter 2 is one of the few times you'll ever get to see Jason Statham showing a soft (well, as soft as an unsentimental hardass like Statham can be) and sensitive side; specifically, his kindness towards children.
  • Pre-Climax Climax: Valentina figures they're both going to get killed, so why not one last bang? Despite having survived a dangerous Car Chase Frank is definitely not in the mood.
  • Product Placement:
    • In The Transporter, we are treated to many loving shots of Frank's BMW—up to two of the characters (Frank and Tarconi) telling us exactly what model it is.
    • In Transporter 2 and Transporter 3, it's an Audi.
    • All the Oranginas Frank drank in the first film.
  • Psycho for Hire: Lola is a straight example and Chillini is a variant, being an Evilutionary Biologist For Hire.
  • Punk in the Trunk: Lai, then two cops (both killed when the bomb went off) and for Rule of Three Tarconi after Frank 'escaped' from the police station.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Valentina threatening to throw the keys to the exploding car off a cliff if Frank doesn't sleep with her.
  • Reality Ensues: In the first film, Frank steals a car to continue his pursuit of the villains. The car is rendered undrivable inside an hour, and all Frank did was drive as fast as possible. The car simply wasn't made to withstand the kind of stress he puts on his BMW.
  • Rule of Cool: The second and third movies subsist almost entirely on this.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Frank. Lampshaded in scenes where he beats up a bunch of mooks, then gets a fresh suit out of his car.
  • Shirtless Scene: In 3 Valentina keeps a sullen silence towards Frank until he takes off his shirt to fight a gang of hoods. Later she threatens to throw his car keys off the cliff unless he strips for her again. He does.
  • Shout-Out: In the first movie, Frank pulls a series of kicks in all directions against multiple Mooks on all sides, resembling a famous Bruce Lee maneuver from Fist Of Fury.
  • Sissy Villain: Wall Street, with his exaggerated gestures, and feeling up of Frank.
  • Smug Snake: Wall Street
  • The Stoic with a Heart of Gold: Inspector Tarconi suggests Frank is turning into this in the third film.
  • Stripperiffic: Lola's "outfit" such as it is.
  • Switch to English: The Chinese father tells his daughter to converse in English with him (even though she speaks perfect Chinese), because language school was expensive.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Frank only opens the 'package' to give a Bound and Gagged Lai something to drink. Later after he reluctantly rescues her, Frank unties her bonds and leaves Lai a microwave meal of noodles, then goes to sleep, making it clear she's free to leave. He's surprised when she's still there to cook breakfast for him the next day. Later Frank calls Lai on trying to manipulate him via this trope.
    • Inspector Tarconi befriends an entire police precinct by showing off his cooking skill in the second film.
  • Tempting Fate: In the second movie, after Frank, Jack, and Lola have avoided pursuit from cops by jumping their car from the top of a parking garage to another under construction. The car skids to a stop near the edge, Lola's side facing out.
    Lola: (looking back) I think we lost 'em.
    Frank: (looking past her as a helicopter rises into view) Think again.
    (Cut to shot from the rear of the helicopter. Automatic-gunfire is heard. The helicopter explodes.)
    Lola: (pulls arm with smoking pistol back into car) Thought completed. Let's go.
    • Played straight when Frank is chasing the Russian (who's hanging onto a bus) by driving up the canal in a jetski. The Russian mocks "The Driver" by shouting that he's no good on water — cue an Oh Crap moment as Frank launches the jetski out of the water onto the road behind the bus.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The first movie managed to take this Up to Eleven. What do you do to assassinate someone like Frank Martin? You have his house shot with several thousand rounds of machine gun ammo and multiple friggin' missiles.
  • Trust Me, I'm an X: In 2, the mook that replaces the doctor says this to Frank. He couldn't sound less convincing if he tried.
  • Underestimating Badassery: A lot of the villains do this to Frank, with predictably (and awesomely) unfortunate results.
  • Underwater Kiss: The Transporter steals the last breath of the Mook who fell into the water with him in this manner.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Lola and Chillini.
  • Waif-Fu: The stick-thin Lola tries this on Frank. It's promptly subverted; she gets knocked off her feet. Then she changes tactics.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: An Elite Mook from the first movie had a distinctive tattoo around his eye, carried a whip and took down Frank in one move. Frank wakes up much later, but what happened to the cool mook?
    • A better example is the second truck. Watch the convoy at the end closely: There are two semi trucks full of prisoners, but only one gets "rescued". Where did the other one go?
      • Stopped off-screen.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Chillini does this on three separate occasions despite knowing from the first that Frank is a Hidden Badass.
    • Wall Street does this in the first movie. He has Frank beaten, has back-up right around the corner, and then leaves to let his mooks finish the job. Didn't the trail of bodies this person left convince you to maybe just finish the job yourself? After all, you were the only one who even gave him a challenge!
  • World of Ham: Villains AND Heroes too!!
  • Your Makeup Is Running: Lola in 2 and Valentina in 3.
  • You Taste Delicious: In the first sequel, Lola, who is by far the most depraved villain in the movie, licks Frank when he is captured.


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alternative title(s): The Transporter; Transporter2; Transporter 3
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