Worst: Turn It Up (2000)
The Stath makes his first foray Stateside with this thoroughly execrable music drama starring Pras from the Fugees and, ahem, Ja Rule.
The two rappers play, surprise, a pair of rappers, who have to balance their aspiring music careers with the usual urban trials of drugs and crime.
Speaking of drugs and crime, Statham stars as the villainous Mr. B, a gurning pusher-man with a nice line in garish shirts.
It’s pretty embarrassing to be honest, but he does at least get to give Ja Rule a bit of a kicking.
Best: Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
“Right, let’s sort the buyers from the spyers, the needy from the greedy and those who trust me from the ones who don’t. Because if you can’t see value here today, you’re not up here shopping. You’re up here shoplifting.”
So begins Guy Ritchie’s seminal cockney caper, as Statham gleefully turns his market stall patter up to eleven.
Lock Stock might have left the dubious legacy of spawning a thousand half-baked imitators, thus creating a niche for Danny Dyer to ply his trade in the process, but the original is still as fresh, fast-paced and funny as the day it came out.
Now, can everyone stop getting shot?
Worst: Ghosts Of Mars (2001)
John Carpenter picked up his camera after a three year hiatus back in 2001 to film this barmy intergalactic chiller, which unfortunately marked his return with less of a bang than a shrug of the shoulders.
Stath plays one of a team of human space-coppers stalked by the vengeful spirits of a race of ancient Martians, a fairly high concept that’s let down by a series of lacklustre action sequences and a general sense of “who cares?” Shame.
Best: Snatch (2000)
Statham takes centre stage in Guy Ritchie’s fun Lock Stock follow-up, starring as diamond geezer Turkish.
Despite sharing the screen with Brad Pitt, Benicio Del Toro and Dennis Farina, Statham more than holds his own and helps himself to a handful of the best lines in the process.
If we’re being super-critical, the film probably loses something by smoothing over some of the rougher edges of its predecessor, whilst the plot strand with the jewel-snaffling dog soon grows wearisome.
However, any film that casts Mike Reid opposite Brad Pitt probably deserves more than its fair share of good will.
Worst: The One (2001)
Jet Li stars opposite Jet Li in this daft sci-fi beat-em-up following the adventures of a dimension-hopping warrior, who sets about killing off all the parallel versions of himself in order to absorb their power.
Who hasn’t tried that, right?
Jase plays the risibly-named Evan Funsch, one of the futuristic coppers out to stop the evil Jet from killing everybody.
Cue plenty of growling and moaning about “procedure” as the plot spirals ever further out of control around him. Silly.
Best: Cellular (2004)
Statham is back on villain duty again in this trashy but taut thriller from Snakes On A Plane director David R. Ellis.
He plays a badass kidnapper terrorising poor Kim Basinger, who manages to steady her trembling lip just long enough to get Chris Evans’ dopey jock on the phone to save her.
Its not exactly high art, but as a breathless mash-up of Speed and Phone Booth (the writer of which, Larry Cohen, is at work again here) it works well enough.
Don’t think about it too much and there’s plenty to enjoy here.
Worst: Mean Machine (2001)
A remake of the ‘70s Burt Reynolds prison flick, Mean Machine swaps gridiron for footy and moustachioed hard-men for cheeky cockney chappies.
It’s not an outright disaster, with the climatic match played out in a surprisingly well done sequence, but the tone is muddled, with gentle laughs interspersed with the odd bout of shocking violence.
It’s a difficult trick to blend Porridge with Scum, and director Barry Skolnick never really pulls it off.
Statham is fun however, playing psychotic keeper The Monk with a suitably starey-eyed mania. He might not say much, but he still manages to make off with every scene he’s in!
Best: Collateral (2004)
Lauded for inventively casting Tom Cruise as a heartless killer, Michael Mann’s hard-boiled thriller is a heart-pounding ride through a never-better-looking LA cityscape, that doesn’t quite hit the heights of Heat , but works well as a stylish companion piece.
So where was Statham in it then? Well, granted, he only pops up very briefly, bumping into Cruise at the airport and subtly giving him a bag. A bag that he’s transported perhaps?
Is this a cross-movie appearance by The Transporter ’s Frank Martin? We like to think so.
Worst: The Transporter (2002)
A little harsh to include Statham’s career-making film on the worst list?
Perhaps, but then again, The Transporter is such a tedious, by-the-numbers yawn-fest of an action movie it still confounds us as to how it became a three-film franchise.
On the one hand, Statham fully lives up to his action-man billing, handing out enthusiastic arse-kickings left right and centre as he wades his way through hordes of bumbling henchmen.
On the other hand, every time he opens his mouth you find yourself wincing at one of the worst American accents ever committed to film. Okay, so dialogue isn’t really the name of the game here but even so, it’s incredibly distracting.
Best: Crank (2006)
Now we’re talking. If The Transporter is the action movie at its most ho-hum, Crank takes the genre to the outer limits of delirium with hilarious results.
Statham plays the superbly-monikered Chev Chelios, a man who must keep his adrenaline topped up to prevent the poison in his system from killing him.
Cue a string of gratuitous sex-scenes, frenzied punch-ups and enough one-liners to keep Arnie amused for years.
Witness Chev’s response to a tough-talking bad guy: “Yeah, yeah, you’re gonna rape my grandmother, then you’re gonna do her in, blah, blah fucking blah.” Inspired.
Worst: The Italian Job (2003)
A bland and wholly unnecessary remake of the late ‘60s classic, The Italian Job is a poor imitation indeed, with all the shaggy-dog charm of the original traded in for some souped-up motors and flashy action scenes.
Expecting Marky-Mark to replicate Michael Caine’s easy patter was always going to be a big ask, but even taken on its own merits, The Italian Job is a yawnsome, by-the-numbers action flick.
Jase plays Handsome Rob, who handily, is pretty good at driving.
He doesn’t get to do much more than drive stuff, but the driving he does very nicely indeed. And as per, he nails his one-liners perfectly. Shame there aren’t more of them.
Best: The Bank Job (2008)
Stath tones down his arse-kicking credentials in favour of his loveable cockney charm in this low-key but enjoyable heist movie.
Written by classic sit-com scribes Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, it flirts with becoming a little teatime-entertainment at times, but a darker second act manages to keep things suitably tense until the end credits roll.
Retro fun, if a little undemanding. Like a nice episode of Minder , then.
Worst: Transporter 2 (2005)
Brace yourselves, it’s another round of high-kicking, gun-toting action with more ludicrous dialogue than you can shake a stick at.
This time, Frank Martin attempts to out-drive and out-thump some Columbian drug lords and their Eurotrash henchmen. Revolutionary stuff, we think you’ll agree.
As always, despite the paper-thin plot and non-existent characterisation, the Stath is his likeable self, albeit with that farcical accent still in place.
Why, oh why did they not just cast him as British?
Best: Death Race (2008)
On paper, this really should have been rubbish, a teenage boy’s wet dream in which hot chicks plough massive cars into each other to a hard rock soundtrack.
What we actually end up with is…er, hot chicks (and badass blokes) ploughing massive cars into each other to a hard rock soundtrack. But amazingly, it doesn’t suck.
This is largely down to the above average cast, with old stagers Ian McShane and Joan Allen adding some welcome gravitas to Statham’s trademark swagger.
Factor in the adrenaline-pumping race sequences and a claustrophobic prison setting and you’re left with a pleasingly OTT B-movie that manages to become more than the sum of its parts.
Worst: Revolver (2005)
After the debacle that was Swept Away , Guy Ritchie was presumably hoping to get things back on track with this twisty-turny crime saga.
Sadly, what he ended up with was a confusing, critically-panned hotch-potch of religious symbolism and crunching violence.
Statham provides the gravelly (and somewhat monotonous) narration, whilst also taking the lead as a con-man with a horrendous oilslick hairdo.
One to forget for all concerned, Ritchie would have to wait until RocknRolla for that much-needed renaissance.
Best: Crank: High Voltage (2009)
Chev’s back, but oh no! Some light-fingered bleeder’s swiped his heart. “Where’s my fucking strawberry tart?” he wails.
Never fear Chev, you’ve got a nifty electronic replacement. The only catch is that it’ll need charging regularly, so be ready to lick some batteries, there’s a good lad.
Yep, it’s even more barking than the first instalment, but fortunately tongues remain firmly in cheeks throughout as the Stath gurns, fights and shags his way through a series of ever-barmier set-pieces.
Our fave? The race-track tussle with Amy Smart. Way to make the crudest scene in the first film even cruder…
Worst: In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007)
Wowsers. The most bona fide stinker on this list comes in the form of this sub- Dungeons & Dragons piece of fantasy farce, directed (perhaps inevitably) by rent-a-hack Uwe Boll.
Jase heads up an army of generic good-guys who must take on an army of orcs, sorry “Krugs” led by a paycheque-grabbing Ray Liotta.
Somehow, they managed to fritter away $60 million on making this garbage.
Best: The Expendables (2010)
Okay, so it wasn’t quite the essential action film required to breathe new life into the genre, but as big, dumb blockbusters go, it was certainly a lot of fun.
Anyone who grew up mainlining the one-liner-fests of the '80s will have a field day here, particularly when Dolph Lungren hits the screen.
Meanwhile, Statham confirms his status as one of the top action-men in the business with a heady mix of bullet-dispensing brawn and cheeky repartee.
He has chiselled himself a niche and doesn’t he look like he’s enjoying it? Good on him we say.
Worst: Transporter 3 (2008)
Sigh…here we go again. The flagging Transporter series stumbles on with another orgy of explosions and car-porn.
Even the Stath looks a little jaded this time around as he finds himself caught up in a terrorist plot to harm a politician’s daughter.
New director Olivier Megaton enforces a misjudged sombre tone on proceedings, stripping away the breakneck abandon of the first two films in an attempt to bring some gravitas to proceedings.
The end result is a distinctly stodgy affair that takes itself far too seriously.
Time to leave Frank Martin behind Jase…you’ve outgrown him.