Back Behind the Wheel: TRANSPORTER 3 Hits 4K Blu-ray

The trilogy capper beats the franchise’s first two films to UHD

Rule #1: Don’t change the deal.
Rule #2: No names.
Rule #3: Never open the package.

The Transporter introduced us to Jason Statham’s protagonist Frank Martin, an expert smuggler for hire who abides by three basic professional rules. In the sequels, he has walked away from his criminal past to live on the right side of the law, now very close friends with police inspector Tarconi (François Berléand), the very man who once investigated him.

Transporter 3, directed by the aptly named Olivier Megaton, expands on this progression, but once again the reformed Martin, still known as the best in the business, gets coerced into doing a job by “Johnson” (Robert Knepper), an eco-terrorist who is involving him as a pawn in a kidnapping and extortion plot against an environmental official.

What Martin’s role in this is, or why it’s even necessary to the bad guy’s plans, were never really clear to me. Martin finds himself driving to an unknown location with an unusual “package” to deliver — a young Ukrainian woman named Valentina (Natalya Rudakova). Each of them is fitted with an electronic bracelet with an explosive device that will detonate if they wander too far from the vehicle. Valentina is one of those characters who is both charming and obnoxious, immediately igniting a love/hate dynamic with Frank.

From there, it’s very much the sort of expected action film that would be expected for anyone familiar with the franchise or Statham’s filmography, which is not, in my opinion, a bad thing. Frank must survive high speed chases, verbally spar with his delivery package/possible love interest Valentina, find ways to take off his shirt and fight bad guys, and ultimately turn the tables on Johnson and his goons — all without straying too far from his vehicle.

That last part feels like an influence of the Neveldine & Taylor Crank films, which were released between Transporter 2 and 3, each of which had a different gimmick for how Statham needed to stay “cranked” — by adrenaline and electric shock, respectively — or die. This time he needs to stay within spitting distance of his car or the bomb on his arm will go off.

(not always easy)

Similar to the Taken franchise, the Transporter films draws from producer Luc Besson’s pool of directors with Olivier Megaton taking the reins on Transporter 3 (which he’d also go on to do with Taken 2 and 3). Megaton’s films have become somewhat infamous for their ridiculous editing — the most notorious and derided example involving Liam Neeson jumping a fence in Taken 3, a six-second sequence that employs more than a dozen cuts from as many angles. Transporter 3 does make some use of this type of kinetic editing, but it’s not too egregious, and limited to the fight and action sequences where they aren’t distracting.

Transporter 3 is generally criticized for straying the character too far from the original template (he breaks all of his own rules, and the film ends on a rather unexpected note), but that’s a misplaced criticism that doesn’t recognize what this film is trying to do: tie up the trilogy and leave Frank in a place where he’s progressed past who he used to be. For the last two films, he’s been trying to move on with his life, and T3 gives him that ending. The execution of this is questionable (annoying party girl Valentina certainly doesn’t feel like the woman Frank would settle down with), but the movie gives what I expect of it: lots of action in and out of cars, a bit of cleverness (it’s a dumb movie with moments of inspiration), and Statham doing Statham.

The Package

Lionsgate has brought Transporter 3 to 4K UHD Blu-ray.

One might very well wonder why the third Transporter movie is the first to make the 4K jump, and it’s the same simple reason that the series hasn’t been been released in a box set: different studios. (The first two films are released through Fox).

The release seems fairly typical of Lionsgate’s aggressive 4K catalogue output: a 4K disc, an included Blu-ray (identical to that of the prior release and even retaining the now erroneous “Disc 1” printed on the disc), and a glossy metallic slipcover.

Truth be told, if you put this disc on I might be hard-pressed to say whether it’s a Blu-ray or 4K disc, partly because this film has always looked pretty incredible, but in direct comparison the improvements in picture quality are more evident. According to IMDb, the film has a 2K digital intermediate, so it seems likely this is not a true 4K release, but in any event, it does look great and is unlikely to ever look better unless they go back to the source (which, surprisingly, is 35mm).

Special Features and Extras

Nothing new, but the Blu-ray’s decent set of features carries over (in SD). It’s worth noting that the 4K disc also includes the special features rather than simply relegating them to the Blu-ray disc, an appreciable and unsung practice that Lionsgate deserves more credit for, and more studios should follow.

  • Audio Commentary with director Olivier Megaton
  • “Special Delivery: Transporters in the Real World” (13:49)
    Real world security, special operations, and law enforcement experts chime in on “transporting” in the real world.
  • Featurette: “Story Board” (2:47)
    A look at the storyboards including a few side by side comparisons with the final film.
  • Featurette: “Visual Effects” (2:33)
    Impressively, the film doesn’t rely on much CGI, though there’s a bit. Instead, most of the action is shot practically with a lot of green screen and compositing used to assemble the more ridiculous vehicular scenes.
  • Featurette: “The Sets” (2:10)
    The movie features mostly outdoor and location shooting, but key sets include Frank’s house and the train interior of the climax.
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:08)

  • Additionally, the Blu-ray contains promotional trailers for Bangkok Dangerous (2:13), The Punisher (2:31), The Spirit (2:19), and Statham films Crank 2 (2:32) & War (:38).

A/V Out.

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All 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the Blu-ray disc (not 4K) with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.

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