‘The Transporter,’ gay action hero?

Nov. 29, 2008 | 12:17 a.m.

Transporter_hose_scene

Chris Lee writes about film and pop culture for the Los Angeles Times and he sent over this, uh, unexpected take on “Transporter 3,” the action film that opened Wednesday. We may never watch the fire hose scene quite the same way…

Alas, the Transporter is gay no more.

In the trailer for “Transporter 3,” Jason Statham (in character as the tactiturn commando-turned-courier Frank Martin) is very clearly seen making out with sexy costar Natalya Rudakova –- a stunning development for anyone intimately acquainted with the car-chase-crazy, karate-tastic French-financed action franchise.

In 2005, Louis Leterrier, the director of “Transporter 2” (and also credited as “artistic director” of the first “Transporter”) told me he created a gay subtext for the character so as to avoid making a “Steven Seagal kind of movie.”

“If you watch the movie and you know he’s gay, it becomes so much more fun,” Leterrier said then. “It’s so great — the first gay action movie hero!” He continued: “Action fans in general are pretty homophobic. You see these tough guys who say, ‘ “The Transporter,” that’s such a great movie!’ If they only knew they’re really cheering for a new kind of action hero.”

Jason_sthamAnd to drive his point home, he mentioned a scene in “Transporter 2” in which a drug czar’s wife, played by Amber Valletta, makes romantic overtures toward the Transporter. Martin rebuffs her, explaining, “It’s because of who I am.”

Letterrier’s take on that? “That’s him coming out!”

At the time, Jason Statham, who plays the Transporter, dismissed the director’s claims.

“It’s just Lou-Lou trying to be funny,” Statham said, using his private nickname for Leterrier. “Although he did say, ‘In Part 2, you will become the gay icon.’”

I e-mailed Leterrier a few days ago to get his take on “Transporter 3” and director Olivier Megaton’s choice to make the character heterosexual. “Haha, I haven’t seen it. I can’t wait,” Leterrier wrote back. But wasn’t he just a little disappointed Megaton had changed the character’s sexual orientation? Leterrier seemed to back off the gay Transporter theme he embraced three years ago.

“I was sick over the weekend and my 2 Transporters were on, so I watched them and in fact they aren’t that gay,” Leterrier wrote. “But it makes for fun movie legends.”

– Chris Lee

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