The Fifth Element (DVD, 2006, 2-Disc Set, DVD + UMD Combo)

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Forget The Other Four, I Want The Fifth Element

Dec 13, 2001 (Updated Apr 15, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Perfect mixture of science-fiction, action, comedy, suspense, and romance.

Cons:Ending story idea about war kind of pulled out of thin air.

The Bottom Line: Simple story (no Dummy book required) yet filled to the brim with science-fiction, action, suspense, comedy, and romance. One of Luc Besson's best creations ever imagined.


The Fifth Element serves up a whole lot of science fiction with a little action, comedy, and suspense on the side. Luc Besson should be credited with creating a film that similar to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, stretches the boundaries of imagination. Not only does he create new ideas for weapons and travel, but also on how to quit smoking, how to make your bed, and a rather nifty appliance that dubs as a shower and as a refrigerator. And like Blade Runner each is perfectly blended into the story where no one thing stands out as a gimmick. One after another Besson plays on our imaginations and twists them in such a way, I could easily see myself living it up in this futurist Earth.

Besides the science-fiction aspect a lot of time and dedication is spent introducing the story that ultimately drives the film; so the film is not a complete mess of special effects and gadgets.

Every 5,000 years Evil returns to Earth to wreck havoc on our civilization. The last time this occurred, as the movie introduces, is back during the time of the Egyptians. Egypt is the focal point of a massive weapon that stands a chance against pure Evil. A weapon that is made up of the four elements of the world, Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and a Fifth Element, a perfect being.

Flashing forward approximately several thousand years, Earth has been dramatically altered due to the onslaught of technology (we are perhaps in a way seeing and living in the early times of this new technology). Once again, Evil has returned, and it is up to the guardians of the Universe to protect Earth for the next 5,000 years.

I could continue to describe the movie step by step, but this isn't a movie that requires any sort of Dummy handbook. The plot is actually extremely simple. Save the world from Evil. The story is equally easy when you think about it, since the whole movie takes place in the span of a singular day progressing step by step until the conclusion. There are no flashbacks, no hidden story arcs that are designed to confuse viewers--this is simply a simple story about a group of individuals joining forces to overcome the massive destruction that Evil will create.

Like most action movies, Evil is represented primarily by one individual, while Good is also equally represented. Granted each has a following of secondary characters that assist in their quest, but overall the movie centers around and relies heavily on the actions of these two characters. In The Fifth Element, those two characters are portrayed by Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman.

Similar to any movie starring Bruce Willis he approaches his role with a certain amount of toughness with a little bit of romance tipping the scale. He's no Steven Segal who is 100% about kicking butt, and he's no Arnold Schwarzenegger who has to rely on quirky one-liners to intercede his action. Bruce is simply a good actor who has the flair for perfectly balancing action, comedy, compassion, and romance all in one package. In The Fifth Element his character deals with quite a bit over the course of the day and never does it feel like he's totally bothered or totally accepting of the situation. He acts in a way like anyone would act if they were in that situation. Confused yet understanding. Determined yet hesitant. Infatuated yet restrained.

Gary Oldman has it much harder than Bruce Willis in the mere fact that he has to wear an elaborate costume and speak with a slight accent of Bungee (does anyone remember, Bungee...he was a purple-elephant-looking-thing shown frequently during ABC's Saturday morning cartoons from approximately 1975-1980.). If you don't recall who Bungee is, just stick the top most portion of your tongue against the top of your mouth and start speaking. Anyways, Gary Oldman plays the part of Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg who is your basic head of a major corporation who is also evil (some would say Bill Gates, but Gary Oldman is much cooler than 'ol Bill).

One interesting point to make at this time would be the fact that I don't believe Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman ever actually meet throughout the course of the film. Even though they are the doers of good and evil, they actually never have a initial nor a final confrontation. Unlike most movies that rely heavily on this final confrontation to bring the film to a close, it was nice to see a film that would start, progress, and end purely on the context of it's story--without having to cheat by creating this "climatic final showdown".

If I was writing a review for just about any other movie I could probably stop here. But that would be an extremely huge injustice to three of the other characters, especially one that becomes known as Leeloo or aka, The Fifth Element.

This was one of Milla Jovovich’s first movies here in the states (besides bit parts in Chaplin and Dazed and Confused), and her first as a leading lady alongside the leading man Bruce Willis. Not only does she convey the fierceness and innocence of her character to perfection, she's also quite hot! Luc Besson (he and Mila were married at the time) does right by introducing her early in the story thus not allowing any sense that the "good guy" action hero is anywhere more important than the "fifth element". The only aspect that I disliked about Jovovich’s character is towards the end where she suddenly develops a conscious about war. It may set up the story for the dramatic conclusion, but it felt like it was created out of thin air for that sole reason to be a dramatic conclusion. At least in my opinion, it is the one sore spot in an otherwise excellent film.

Ian Holm, a very popular character actor is equally impressive as the priest preparing to save the world. Ian Holm's character Priest Vito Cornelius is party jittery, part adventurous in the quest to save man-kind.

Although I didn't discuss his contribution to the film in proceeding paragraphs, I wanted to mention that this film also stars Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod who fuels the film with an excess of comedy and high pitched screams. Now I know some actors will do just about anything sometimes to be in a film but Tucker in this film takes it quite to the extreme. His character is so elaborate, funny, and out of place that in a very strange way he fits perfectly within The Fifth Element.

Finally, although he is not an actor, I have to give special consideration within the context of this review to the music director Eric Serra. Each and every time I watch this film I always make sure my subwoofer is on its lowest setting and my volume is as high as it will go without blowing out my speakers or annoying my neighbors enough to call the cops. Eric Serra uses lots of techno/trance music, some opera (sung in an alien language), trumpets, and whole lot of bass, perfectly timed when needed.

As for the science-fiction aspect, Luc Besson has created a world where it seems imagination has been taken as far as it could go within the context of a 2 hour movie. As a viewer I have to give him extreme credit for constantly displaying his creativity, especially since he constantly introduces new technology that fits within the movie and doesn't feel like a gimmick purely operating for the sole reason because it's science-fiction film. His world encompasses and sustains itself throughout the entire movie. So many science-fiction movies either introduce a handful of items and then play them out throughout the context of the film, or introduce new gimmicks whenever needed for a particular scene only to disappear when no longer needed. The Fifth Element is a movie that is not only amazing to see and hear, but also one that is amazing to experience. I own this movie on video tape and I never get tired of popping it in and watching a few minutes even during my lunch break. For me, it's an escape from reality. Plus I guess in a way it makes me realize that there is no limit to our imaginations.


Bruce Willis: Korben Dallas
Gary Oldman: Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg
Ian Holm: Priest Vito Cornelius
Milla Jovovich: Leeloo
Chris Tucker: Ruby Rhod
Rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi violence, some sexuality and brief nudity.
Official Site: http://www.spe.sony.com/Pictures/SonyMovies/movies/Fifth/intro.html

Directed by
Luc Besson

Writing credits
Luc Besson
Robert Mark Kamen

Original music by
Eric Serra


Recommend this product? Yes

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