They call him The Stath. His body is a lethal weapon, honed and toned from years playing football, diving and practicing martial arts. He has since brought his considerable skills to the big screen, kicking ass and trading quips with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, becoming an A-lister himself along the way.
We just can’t get enough of The Stath: if there’s a movie with him in it, we’re watching. But if we had to narrow it down to ten of his movies and franchises, here are the ones we’d pick.
1. Guy Ritchie Movies (1998 – ?)
Some of Statham’s most memorable roles and films are undoubtedly his early work with English director Guy Ritchie. The Stath got his big acting break in the director’s feature debut Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, as part of an ensemble that would follow him into Ritchie’s next film, Snatch. In 2005, he reteamed with the director to take the lead role in Revolver. We hope to see them working together again in future, but with Ritchie tied up with the epic King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, we may have to wait awhile.
2. Mean Machine (2001)
With Ritchie on board as producer, Statham reunited with several of his Lock, Stock and Snatch co-stars for the football-in-prison film Mean Machine. Based on the American movie The Longest Yard, it replaced American football with soccer, giving Statham the chance to show off some fancy footy.
3. The Transporter (2002 – 2008)
If audiences didn’t know who The Stath was yet, they definitely did after his work in The Transporter. Placing him front and centre of the action, the high-speed car chases and slickly choreographed fight sequences made the most of Statham’s martial arts background. He would make two sequels before handing over the reins, or the wheel rather, to Ed Skrein in the 2015 reboot and Chris Vance in the TV series.
4. Fast and Furious (2006 – ?)
Statham became part of another car-fuelled franchise when he officially joined the Fast and Furious cast in the seventh film (having appeared briefly in the sixth film). While The Transporter (and many others) cast him as the (anti)hero, Furious 7 sees him become the villain, as he seeks vengeance for his brother’s defeat at the hands of Dom and the gang. Statham is set to reprise his role in the eighth film, set for release in 2017.
Watch Furious 7 on Sunday 24 July at 18:14 on M-Net Movies Premiere.
5. Crank (2006)
This film is kind of like Speed, but with Statham as the driver, and the bus. As hitman Chev Chelios he’s poisoned with a synthetic drug, and must keep his adrenaline pumping or he’ll die. This nifty plot device gives the film the perfect excuse to keep The Stath running, jumping, driving, shooting, kicking and generally being awesome with all manners of physical prowess.
6. Death Race (2008)
Statham again finds himself behind the wheel and behind bars in this sci-fi actioner. Faced with a choice of either serving a life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit or taking part in the sadistic, gladiatorial-style car races the prison runs for a bid at freedom, it’s obvious which choice his character will make.
7. The Bank Job (2008)
While still very much an anti-hero – with a mean right-hook – his character in The Bank Job was not as much of a loner as many of his previous parts. Assigned this meatier role, Statham proved he could flex his acting chops along with his muscles.
8. The Expendables (2010 – ?)
The star bounces easily between lead roles and supporting characters. He has featured as part of many impressive ensembles, but one of the most memorable is undoubtedly The Expendables, pitting him alongside fellow action and martial arts’ greats like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Wills and Jet Li. Statham has appeared in all three films so far, and will return for the fourth…if it ever happens.
9. Simon West Films (2011 – ?)
Besides the second Expendables movie, Statham has made two other movies with the action director: The Mechanic and Wild Card. In the former he plays an assassin, a role he will reprise in the sequel, Mechanic: Resurrection, due for release this year. Vegas forms the backdrop of West’s other Statham-starrer, Wild Card, which has the actor take on Mafioso bad guys with his usual ass-kicking panache.
Watch Wild Card, your Sunday night movie on 24 July at 20:05 on M-Net and 20:30 on M-Net Movies Premiere.
10. Spy (2015)
Although many of his films have a vein of dark or tongue-in-cheek comedy running through them, Spy is balls-to-the-wall comedy, and Statham delivers with aplomb. As a secret agent, he’s still Mr. Action Man, but in a delightful twist he sends up his own archetype, relegating his role to that of the bumbling sidekick – generating just as many of the laughs as his stellar co-star, Melissa McCarthy.
Watch Spy on on 9 August at 21:00 on M-Net Movies Action+
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