Movie Monday: The Transporter
The Transporter (dir. Louis Leterrier and Cory Yuen, 2002) with Jason Statham as Frank Martin and Jean-Marie Paris as Big Thug
The oil fight is by itself the best reason to see The Transporter, a dizzying mix of whirling camerawork, flash edits, and comic twists. The whole movie is a succession of improbable car chases, so this wildly improbable but insanely entertaining brawl caps it all off terrifically. It is the fight that precedes the final showdown with the top bad guys, but this is the most memorable scene in the movie.
Statham plays a highly paid no-questions-asked delivery man, who accidentally uncovers a human trafficking operation. Towards the end of the movie, a team of henchmen holds him captive in a dockside warehouse. While attempting an escape, a shirtless Statham is intercepted by a character identified only as Big Thug in the credits. They fight. More henchmen show up to gang up on the hero, who overturns an oil container, turning the warehouse floor into a giant Slip 'N Slide.
It's all hand-to-hand combat, played for laughs with (I think) an intentional erotic subtext. Statham holds his own until backup thugs show up with semiautomatic firearms. The hero uses Big Thug as a shield, and the two crash through a window into murky waters below. The henchmen toss an oil barrel into the water and shoot it. It explodes, leaving Statham trapped underwater, the surface in flames.
In what is almost definitely a knowing wink to certain fans, Statham survives by locking lips with the thug, inhaling the residual oxygen in the dead man's lungs. With the billowing conflagration overhead, the lifesaving tactic looks like a passionate kiss.