Did you see the Luc Besson action film The Transporter with Jason Statham? (Note that I am not asking if you saw the two sequels; they were pretty crap.) It was an insubstantial but well-constructed action film where Jason Statham is a getaway driver par excellence in a tricked-out BMW doing jobs for criminals in the south of France, but he gets tasked with delivering a package that turns out to be an attractive Chinese woman in a duffel bag, and he ends up breaking his traditional non-intervention code of conduct and instead just beats on a bunch of people who really deserve it (also two cops who then get blown up by a car bomb, but Statham totally didn't know his car was going to get blown up when he stuffed the knocked-out cops in his trunk, so let's give him a pass on that).
|One of the best scenes in the film Transporter is this balletically choreographed fight where Jason Statham stands on bicycle pedals in the middle of a giant oil slick and everyone else is playing slip-n-slide on the floor.|
The TV show is capitalizing on the popularity of the movies, but also needs to make its money from somewhere (Canadian, French, and German TV subsidies only go so far), so it uses the Audi sports cars from the later movies as promotional consideration, as well as Fords whenever the show is shot in Canada (more on Canada later). Also for TV, intensely bald and working class-looking Jason Statham is swapped for Chris Vance, who looks like how teenage Sherlock slash-fic writers probably imagine Martin Freeman in sex scenes.
|No, ladies, he is not shirtless enough. You get to see some fat, hairy British dude's not-as-tan-as-the-rest-of-him butt for like two straight minutes in one episode, but Chris Vance is rarely shirtless.|
This show was shot with a ton of Toronto film subsidy money, so if you know how to spot Canadian soundstages portraying everywhere else in the world, you will see them here. However, there are legitimately scenes shot in France and Berlin, possibly to get local content requirements high enough to be considered "local shows" in some European markets and avoid foreign (read: American) TV rebroadcasting limits, so unlike some "pretends to be NYC but shot in Vancouver" shows, there are some real locations.
So, what's the show, well, about? Basically, imagine watching someone remake the first movie in a 45 minute version. Over and over and over again. I liked this, you may not.
Frank Martin, "the Transporter," has a secret package he has to deliver. There is a problem with delivering the package. Car chases and fistfights and maybe some gunplay ensue. The package is either delivered to the good guys or not delivered to the bad guys, or maybe the package is delivered to the bad guys and Frank Martin then comes back to beat the everloving tar out of them. One of those three.
Also, there's usually a woman involved. Either she is immediately enraptured by Frank Martin's animal magnetism (he's got the Irish mythological figure Diarmuid's love spot or something, seriously) and will have sex with him on or off camera if she doesn't die during the episode, or she is someone else's girlfriend/wife who will have sex with that character on or off camera. Odds are 50/50 you will see her topless, except for Vikings' Katheryn Winnick, who managed to keep all of her clothes on and wear normal clothes (as opposed to the usual form-fitting slinky clothes) for her guest starring episode, and even managed to fight a bit. Lost Girl's Rachel Skarsten apparently did not have as good an agent, and is for her episode both gratuitously naked a bunch and basically a useless Macguffin object of a character.
"So what," you say, "what about the driving and the fighting, which is what The Transporter is about?"
Let's start with the driving, which is weaker. The driving is awesome on closed courses, such as off-road and in parking garages; the stunt drivers do some pretty amazing things. The show is also willing to crash some real cars in some impressive ways.
However, the show can't afford to shut down the streets of any of the cities (Nice, Marseilles, Berlin, and Toronto) it's set in, so the on-street driving scenes are mostly scenes of cars weaving back and forth jump-cut to stock footage of clutch pedals being depressed and sticks being shifted. It is lame.
|Just look at this, then look at a picture of a road, then look back at this, and you'll get the idea of what the city street driving sequences are like.|
The fighting? It's pretty great. Lots of clever work with improvised items; for example there's a great fight in a lingerie store where mannequins, clothing racks, and some fabric items are put to great use. Any fight in a kitchen is going to be amazing; my favorite ended with a knockout via cutting board.
To recap what the show is about, Transporter: The Series has Chris Vance in a suit and tie either delivering or not delivering a package via an Audi. Car chase and fisticuff complications ensue, as well as occasional female nudity. If you were ever a 13-year-old boy, this will hit a little fun zone in your brain even if you find it problematic from an "is this good for culture" standpoint. That's why I keep watching.