10 Best Jason Statham Movies

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 9:53 pm

If you’ve seen any of the 10 best Jason Statham movies on this list, then you know the balding Brit is an on-screen force to be reckoned with. He’s appeared in almost 30 films since his 1998 debut–doing most of his own stunts and fights–and he shows no signs of slowing down. In real life, he was on the competitive diving team for Britain for 12 years, and he’s been known to date hotties such as Kelly Brook. Maybe a receding hairline isn’t so bad after all.

In honor of his latest big-screen release, I wanted to reveal my list of the 10 best Jason Statham movies ever made. Each of these films is guaranteed to be packed with action, but don’t be surprised if the former male model takes an opportunity to show off his romantic or comedic side along the way. In the end, though, it’s all about kicking ass and taking names.

10. The Expendables (2010) – Jason Statham gets second billing in this Sylvester Stallone film about a group of middle-aged mercenaries who take on a Latin American dictator. The roster of the film includes a virtual who’s who of action stars and all-around tough guys, including Stallone, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture. Even Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger put in cameos.

While he doesn’t have as much room to develop as I’d like, the villainous General Garza (David Zayas) has an interesting character arc, which is always a big plus for an action movie. Despite the sequences of gunplay and hand-to-hand combat being a bit lackluster (not to mention the cornball closing scene), it’s surprisingly entertaining considering that many of the heroes qualify for AARP membership.

9. 13 (2011) – Writer/director Gela Babluani remakes his 2005 French film 13 Tzameti, and the results are both more polished and entertaining than the original. Sam Riley stars as Vince Ferro, a young laborer in need of money who steals a mysterious invitation belonging to a recently dead employer. Following the instructions on the card, he winds up at a house in the middle of nowhere and learns that this lucrative opportunity is actually tied to Russian Roulette (with participants standing in a circle and firing at the man in front of them). Wealthy folks come to wager on the outcome, and the winning competitor can make a small fortune for a few hours work. Losing competitors, meanwhile, are piled unceremoniously in a back room waiting for holes to be dug and lime to be purchased.

The tension increases with each click of the player’s guns, and viewers will no doubt be choosing their favorites and cheering them on. The cast includes a number of surprises, including Jason Statham as a scumbag who occasionally checks his brother (Ray Winstone) out of a mental institution to participate, Mickey Rourke as a Texas bank robber sold into the competition from a Mexican jail cell, and Michael Shannon as the no-nonsense emcee of the event.

8. The One (2001) – Before he butchered the remake of Black Christmas, James Wong directed this tale of Gabriel YuLaw (Jet Li), a power hungry madman who travels to different dimensions killing off alternate versions of himself. When he’s eliminated them all, he believes he’ll become an unstoppable being known as “The One.” He’s not alone in thinking the scheme will work, either, as he’s hounded through the cosmos by officers from the Multiverse Authority (Deloy Lindo and Jason Statham). It all comes down to the last alternate version, of course, an upstanding member of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department named Gabriel Law (also Jet Li).

Carla Gugino is smoking hot in a supporting role as the wife of both Jet Li characters, while Statham and Lindo keeps their chins up as law enforcement officers hopelessly outmatched by their quarry. The action comes in entertaining bunches, and the final scene is pretty awesome. Most critical reviews for the film were negative, but you won’t be disappointed if you turn off your brain and expect nothing more than dumb fun.

7. Transporter 2 (2005) – Badass courier Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is back, and this time he’s relocated to Miami and is paying the bills by acting as a chauffeur for a wealthy family (including Matthew Modine and Amber Valletta). He forms a bond with their kid, so he goes all Man on Fire when the bad guys–including model Kate Nauta–try to abduct the youngster and infect him with a lethal virus. Nobody gets a bomb stuck up their butt in this one, but Frank does have plenty of opportunities to show off his ability to defy the law of physics. Not as good as the first installment of the franchise, but action junkies should still have a good time.

6. The Bank Job (2008) – Jason Statham and crime films are a marriage made in heaven. Case in point, this mesmerizing flick about a 1971 London robbery that’s at least partially based on real events. Of course, determining what’s fact and what’s fiction is tricky, but that doesn’t diminish the charm of its lead actor (Statham as the wonderfully named Terry Leather), the fine supporting cast, or the underhanded scheming that involves everyone from MI5 to black militants. Statham kicks far less ass than most of his movies, but he makes up for it by playing a reformed crook seduced by the score of a lifetime.

5. The Italian Job (2003) – Intended as an homage to the 1969 Michael Caine heist classic of the same name, this F. Gary Gray film captures much of the excitement of the original, from a daring opening robbery in Venice to a climactic scene involving Mini Coopers, armored cars, and the subway system of Los Angeles. While Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron get top billing, Statham co-stars as resident driving expert Handsome Rob. He’s joined by a likable supporting cast that includes Donald Sutherland as the old school thief, Seth Green as the computer hacker, Mos Def as the demolitions expert, and Edward Norton as the kind of guy you’d like to punch in the face repeatedly.

4. Crank (2006) – Have you ever wondered what a real-life video game would look like? Well, here you go. Statham stars as Chev Chelios, a British hitman who lives in L.A. and works for crime boss Carlito (Carlos Sanz). When he winds up betrayed, Chev is injected with a lethal “Beijing Cocktail” by a rival (Jose Pable Cantillo) and left for dead. Luckily, a Mafia doctor (Dwight Yoakam) informs our hero that he can stave off the effects of the poison–at least for a while–by keeping his adrenaline up. This forms the centerpiece of the story, as Chev goes seeking revenge while crashing cars, gunning down enemies, taking a hit from a defibrillator, and having a public romp with his girlfriend (Amy Smart) while Asian schoolgirls look on.

The directorial duo of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor keep the action moving at a frenetic pace, and the film is littered with references to video game culture (including a cameo from Atari’s classic Berzerk). The high octane ending sets up an improbable (and inferior) sequel, and Statham incredibly manages to keep a straight face throughout. A must-see for fans of the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

3. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) – Guy Ritchie launched his feature film career with this playful British crime flick, and action movie fans should thank him for introducing audiences to both Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones. The former plays Bacon, a smooth-talking rogue who makes his living selling stolen goods. The latter co-stars as Big Chris, a debt collector for a London loan shark named “Hatchet” Harry (P.H. Moriarty).

The plot revolves around four pals (Statham, Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, and Nick Moran) who pool their money to stake one of their own in a high-stakes card game, but they end up owing 500,000 British pounds thanks to the cheating ways of Hatchet Harry. The lads only have a week to pay up, which leads them to try to rip off their drug-dealing neighbors (led by Frank Harper). Plenty of other characters also get in on the action, including Harry’s top henchmen (Lenny McLean), a perpetually angry crime lord (Vas Blackwood), marijuana growers, and Sting (playing the father of one of the protagonists).

Ritchie hits the ground running, depicting a London where everyone is looking to cut an extra slice of the pie for themselves. There’s enough violence to satisfy fans of the crime genre, but it never gets too dark thanks to the cheeky script and soundtrack featuring memorable songs such as “18 with a Bullet,” “The Payback,” and “Spooky.” The British equivalent of Reservoir Dogs, as it heralded the arrival of a great talent with a unique vision.

2. The Transporter (2002) – French action cinema powerhouse Luc Besson must have loved The Hire series, as he promptly turned around and produced and co-wrote a similar product for the big screen. Instead of Clive Owen, however, it stars Jason Statham as Frank Martin, a former military man who will deliver anything for a price. Armed with a set of rules (Rule #2: No names) and a snazzy BMW, he’s a class act who’s definitely got his act together. But when he takes a transport job for an American gangster (Matt Schulze), Frank makes the mistake of breaking rule #3: Don’t open the package. Turns out his cargo is a spirited young woman (Shu Qi), and she’s soon got our hero up to his neck in trouble.

While Frank’s driving prowess is adequately demonstrated in the opening scene featuring a chaotic bank robbery, The Transporter really shines when he exits his car and begins to whoop ass with his fists and feet. Directors Louis Leterrier and Corey Yuen put Statham in unique situations that range from fighting amidst a maze of shipping containers to being covered in oil, and the star is more than up to the task (doing all the fight scenes himself). Ric Young and Schulze make for a watchable duo of villains, while Francois Berleand is another standout as the practical Inspector Tarconi. Two sequels have been made to date, but this remains the best of the bunch.

1. Snatch (2000) – For his second film, Statham once again teamed up with Guy Ritchie in this UK tale of diamond thieves, underground boxing, and unpredictable pikeys. The result is a masterpiece of modern crime cinema, and you can almost feel the grime and smell the smoke as you’re introduced to a succession of lovable losers, grifters, and psychopaths.

Chief among them is Turkish (Statham), a fight promoter who maintains his integrity despite working in the world of bare-knuckle boxing. All he really wants to do is buy a travel trailer, but he and his clueless partner Tommy (Stephen Graham) soon wind up in the debt of violent mobster Brick Top (Alan Ford) and are forced to seek salvation in the pugilistic skills of a nearly incomprehensible gypsy (Brad Pitt).

But these are just a few of the off-kilter crooks and cons you’ll meet in Snatch. There’s also Benicio del Toro as a master thief who’s addicted to gambling, Dennis Farina as an ill-tempered New York crime boss/jeweler, Vinnie Jones as his no-nonsense hired gun, Rade Serbedzija as a relentless Russian, and Lennie James as a perpetually unlucky pawnbroker.

Ritchie keeps up a fast pace, never allowing the film to get mired down in sentimentality or needless romantic subplots. And like Quentin Tarantino, he proves to be a master of using music to perfectly punctuate individual scenes. This is 102 minutes of pure testosterone, and watching all the plotlines collide during the final act will provide a great amount of fun and satisfaction.

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While most balding guys just stare into the mirror and weep, Jason Statham is out chasing world-class tail and making hit movies. Once you’ve seen all the titles on this list of the 13 best Jason Statham movies ever made, be sure to follow the links below for even more great selections in the action genre. If nothing else, it’ll give you something to do while saving up for those hair plugs.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 at 9:53 pm and is filed under Good Movies, Thoughts on Film. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “10 Best Jason Statham Movies”

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May 8, 2012

Isaac Eisenheimer

I’ll have to try The One. It sounds pretty trippy. Now that I see the list, I’ve seen way more Jason Statham movies than I thought. Crank 2 was just silly, though.

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