Exploding collars: OK for Mainstream, Taboo for Horror?


So this is just a little editorial that I was hoping to get some thoughts on.  I enjoyed the mainstream action film Transporter and Transporter 2 but really havent followed much about the upcoming 3rd film in the series.  After stumbling across in article in Entertainment Weekly about the film, I suddenly had a thought that popped into my head.  Not only is this film a rip off, but it's using an element of a few taboo horror movies in the process. Let me explain....

The basic plot if for Frank Martin (played by Jason Statham) to deliver the kidnapped daughter of a Ukranian government official to a new destination.  The problem he has to contend with is he wakes up in a room on an operating table.  He has been fitted with an electronic bracelet round his wrist.  This bracelet is wired to the car and if he gets a certain distance away from the car for a certain amount of time or if he tries to remove the bracelet, the bracelet will explode.  I am not 100% but I think it may also explode if he doesnt make the delivery of the girl in a certain amount of time.  So he must contend with the possibility of his bracelet exploding all while being hunted by people trying to stop him from delivering the girl.

Sound familiar?  It should because these are ideas that we have seen in Battle Royale 1 & 2.  For those unaware of any of those films, let me explain.  In Battle Royale 1, a class of 9th grade students re forced to play a game in which the last alive member wins.  They are rigged with explosive collars that will detonate if they are stuck in a "danger zone" used to keep players moving on the island.  The collars will also explode if student try to remove them or if after 3 days there is no winner.  The same concept applies in the second Battle Royale film, except each student has a partner, and if their partner dies their collar explodes too.  Dont want to get too far away from your partner to make sure both you and them stay alive. 

In another Japanese film, Tokyo 10+01, 11 convicts awake to find themselves fitted with bracelets.  The difference with the bracelets in this is instead of exploding, they are set to inject the player with lethal poison if they try and remove them.  They will also be injected with the poison if they dont reach their intended escape destination in a certain amount of time.  Same concept, but the explosiveness is removed for poison. 

Alright, so here's where I get a little agitated.  Despite very very similar ideas, Transporter 3 is a mainstream film that is bound to be a success while the Battle Royale series and Tokyo 10+01(despite being mostly a spoof) were deemed extreme films.  Battle Royale had a large outcry upon release in Japan.  Some of it had to do with the fact that children were forced to kill each other, some of it had to do with some political statements, but a lot of it had to do with people feeling it personified an increasingly violent trend in Asian movies.  The collars were a part of this being deemed extremely violent and a somewhat taboo in it's methods.  So why no outcry when pretty boy Jason Statham gets strapped with an exploding device and must do what ever it takes to stay alive

I will admit, Transporter 3 will not be nearly as gorey as the other films mentioned, but really is it that much different?  Take out the blood in Battle Royale, what do you get?  You get an action movie with a bunch of people rigged with exploding collars being hunted by other people while trying to perform a task in a time limit.  Isnt that essentially what Transporter 3 is?  A guy rigged with an exploding bracelet, given a time frame to complete a task while being hunted and having to shoot/kill a large number of people trying to stop him from completing his task. 

Its just funny how ideas are perceived once you remove a little bit of blood.  Hollywood can steal ideas from extremely popular cult films that were perceived as extremely violent and get away with it by removing the blood spatter and adding some luxury car chase scenes and loads of unrealistic gun battles & fight scenes.   Hell we have already seen Hollywood take ideas like Battle Royale and Tokyo 10+01 and spin them to be glorified "action" movies to appeal to the masses (The Condemned staring Stone Cold Steve Austin). 

Who knows what type of violent or taboo horror source may soon be spun into mainstream action film, but one can assume there will be no public outcry as long as the audience gets cheap action and a pretty face on screen.  After all, if it's successful in the underground horror market, why not remove some of that red red kroovy and give "mainstream" audiences the same ideas and pocket the profits in return.

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