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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Fifth Element / Le Dernier Combat
The Fifth Element / Le Dernier Combat
Columbia/Tri-Star // R // April 29, 2003
List Price: $44.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ron J. Epstein | posted May 4, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The grades on the right are a combined score of the movies included in this Luc Besson 2-pack. Because each movie is different, I will include their individual ratings within the body of each DVD reviewed. Thank you for your understanding even if you have no idea what in the hell I'm talking about.

The Fifth Element - Rated PG-13

The Feature:
I have now seen "The Fifth Element" five times, and I still can't figure out what I'm watching. Touting an All-Star cast, "The Fifth Element" is a movie that doesn't really go anywhere, yet is entertaining enough to keep you watching for 127 minutes. Now, for all your nerds out there (and I use that term very lovingly), don't go berserk because I can't fathom why this movie has a pretty impressive cult following.

And now for a movie review. Bad things happen in 1917 Egypt. We then cut to New York City a few hundred years later, and a big flaming object is hurdling its way towards Earth, and there's nothing that can be done. Enter Leeloo (Milla Jovavich), the orange haired ideal of "perfection." She is cloned from a single cell, and may be mankind's last hope (ugh, I feel like punching myself for that line, but that's the marketer in me). After "coming to life", she escapes and crashes into the cab of Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis). He instantly develops a crush on the scantily-clad Leeloo, and gets caught up in the mission to save mankind.

I find it hard to believe that the same man, Luc Besson, that wrote and directed "LÉON: The Professional" is also responsible for making "The Fifth Element." In addition, this movie cost nearly $90 million to make, and the fantastic visuals can attest to that fact. The costumes, special effects, and CGI look more realistic than those seen in the most recent Star Wars prequels.

Zorg (Gary Oldman) is the bad guy in "The Fifth Element." In my opinion, he is woefully miscast as the villain, as he doesn't do comedy that well (I keep thinking of his characters from "True Romance" and "LÉON: The Professional"). Regardless, I keep an open mind and accept him, and his character's unusual motives. He supports the idea that the object is heading to Earth, even though he will be killed if it strikes the planet.

I just want to make this one point clear… I do not hate "The Fifth Element." At times, I think it's a rather witty movie; but unfortunately, I don't consider it a good one. If you're looking for some mindless fun, then this movie is worth your time.

MOVIE RATING – 3 STARS (of 5)

Video:
Columbia Tri-Star presents "The Fifth Element" in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 on one side, and in Full Frame 1.33:1 on the other. Despite being one of Columbia Tri-Star's earliest DVD efforts, it's among their best. Colors are rich and lively, and pixelation and artifacting is kept to a minimum. There are sporadic instances of grain, but nothing that's a real problem. I've never seen the Superbit version of "The Fifth Element", but I'm sure that it does the near impossible, and actually improves on this very good transfer.

VIDEO RATING – 3.5 STARS (of 5)

Audio:
The audio is presented here in Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround 2.0, and Spanish 2.0. The 5.1 sounds really good, although not excellent. The "whooshing" of cars in traffic doesn't sound as good as I expected it to; but the action scenes, especially the ones featuring gunplay explode on my system. Dialogue is clean and clear, and there are no audio dropouts. Once again, I believe the Superbit version of this DVD improves the audio.

AUDIO RATING – 4 STARS (of 5)

Menus:
Static DVD menu offers the following choices: "Start Movie", "Languages/Audio Set-Up", "Subtitles", and "Scene Selections."

Extras:
A big fat nothing… Not even a trailer for "xXx" (I know, "xXx" came out 5 years after "The Fifth Element", but that's no excuse. All Columbia-Tri Star DVDs need to have a trailer for a stupid Vin Diesel movie on it).

EXTRAS RATING – 0 STARS (of 5)

Final Thoughts:
Considering there are no extras on this disc, and the Superbit version of the DVD has improved sound and video, I would be hard pressed to recommended this version over it's souped up counterpart (there's only a $8.00 difference in MSRP). But as a movie, it's entertaining enough to recommend it for at least a rental, if not a purchase. Therefore, I'll play it safe and suggest that you "Rent It" before you buy.

REPLAY RATING – 2.5 STARS (of 5)
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Le Dernier Combat - Rated R

The Feature:
The first thing I noticed when I popped in "Le Dernier Combat" into my DVD player is the lack of a subtitle option on the main menu. After all, I took two-and-a-half years of French back in high school (don't ask why I didn't complete my third year), and I understand that "Le Dernier Combat" means "The Last Battle" in English. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm smart. I apologize for making such a bold statement in a DVD review, but I get so little attention at home.

This is the fourth Luc Besson movie I have seen this week (the others being "Subway", "LÉON: The Professional", and "The Fifth Element." To my surprise, "Le Dernier Combat" was his first feature film effort. Shot entirely in black-and-white with almost NO dialogue whatsoever, "Le Dernier Combat" is an absolutely haunting film that depicts a world that has suffered a nuclear holocaust of sorts.

The film opens up with a man humping a blow up doll, because there doesn't seem to be any women around. The men who are alive dress in tattered clothing, looking for food or something else to pass the time (the staple of most Luc Besson films, Jean Reno, looks to kill anyone in his path). The people who inhabit this world are primal, yet sophisticated. Personally, a world without any women isn't one worth living in, but I digress. The main source of food is the fish they fall from the sky every time it rains (as smart as I am, I can't figure that one out). In the end, what we're left with is a character study of sorts, of how different men go about life post-apocalypse.

This is such a surreal movie, I can't even begin to describe it. Honestly, I ended up thinking about the subject matter a couple days after I initially watched it; then I went back and watched it again. If you're a fan of Besson's work, then you should definitely check out "Le Dernier Combat", if only to watch Jean Reno eat fish in his underwear.

MOVIE RATING – 3.5 STARS (of 5)

Video:
Columbia Tri-Star presents "Le Dernier" in Black and white Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1. Considering that Besson's first film effort is over 20 years old, I'd have to say that the transfer looks really good. The picture is free of artifacting and pixelation, and there is not much grain to speak of. Blacks look black, whites look white, and grays look gray. Overall, I'm pleased with the transfer.

VIDEO RATING – 3.5 STARS (of 5)

Audio:
The audio is presented here in Dolby 2.0. Once again, I state that there is no dialogue in the movie… but there is plenty of ambiance. The occasional "jumps" in background music helps to provide an eerie atmosphere, as do the sound effects (Jean Reno using a file to break through metal bars, for instance). Also, the unusually upbeat soundtrack is a nice touch (during some scenes, it reminds me of a low budget urban cop drama). Overall, I'm satisfied with the audio, as it would have been pointless to include a 5.1 mix.

AUDIO RATING – 3.5 STARS (of 5)

Menus:
Static DVD menu offers the following choices: "Play Movie", "Scene Selections" and "Theatrical Trailers."

Extras:
There are trailers for "Le Dernier Combat", "The Professional", "The Big Blue", and "The Story of Joan of Arc." Other than that, there's nothing else here.

EXTRAS RATING – .5 STARS (of 5)

Final Thoughts:
I really liked "Le Dernier Combat." Besson made it without relying on clichés, while making it with plenty of style. I recognize that this movie isn't for everyone (there are plenty of disturbing themes within "Le Dernier Combat"), so I must only give it a "Recommended."

REPLAY RATING – 3 STARS (of 5)

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