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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Subway
Subway
Columbia/Tri-Star // R // November 6, 2001
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted November 9, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
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The Movie:

French director Luc Besson ("The Fifth Element", "The Professional")'s third picture, this 1985 effort is still as visual and energetic as most of his other efforts and boasts a fine cast. While certainly not Besson's best work, it's a sharp and often entertaining piece. It stars Christopher Lambert (of the "Highlander" series) as Fred, a small-time thief who has just stolen important papers from a local millionaire. His wife (Isabelle Adjani) wants these papers back, but when the two meet, she's bored and interested in learning more about this stranger. At the same time, Fred heads underground with a group of colorful characters (including Besson regular and all-around wonderful actor Jean Reno, in a small role) to plan his next move - but it's not long before he runs into Adjani's character once again.

Essentially, that's the plot of the picture. Yet, Besson is terrific at bringing a suprising amount of energy into not exactly much of a story. Carlo Varini's cinematography reminds me a great deal of the work of the cinematographer who Besson is currently working with - Thierry Arbogast, whose work I've admired in pictures like "Kiss of the Dragon" and Besson's "Fifth Element". The cinematography of "Subway" offers the kind of visuals that Besson's pictures usually offer - widescreen images that pack an almost remarkable amount of information into the frame and push the viewer into the middle of the situation.

The picture does get a little overly lengthy for it's small plot at a running time of 102 minutes - the film could have been an even more tightly paced 90 minute picture and deleted some of the footage in the slightly slow middle. Eric Serra's score also sounds rather dated, as well. Still, the performances are enjoyable and Besson largely keeps things moving, with some nicely staged action sequences, such as a great car chase to open the film. While not substancial, Besson keeps things entertaining and fun and the picture's atmosphere, style and performances keep pushing it further. Besson tries for a mix of romance and action with "Subway" and mostly, he succeeds.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Subway" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen on this edition from Columbia/Tristar. While most of the film looks quite good, there are some concerns that bothered me slightly on occasion. Sharpness and detail are good, but a little inconsistent - the picture often looked well-defined, but could slightly veer off into subtle softness.

Considering the age of the picture, I was suprised that print flaws really did not turn out to be an issue. Although there was some slight grain on occasion, I really didn't see any other print flaws, aside from a few minor specks now and then. Edge enhancement was seen in mild amounts at times, which did become somewhat of an irritant, but not a major distraction. No pixelation or other problems were noticed.

Colors remained subdued throughout the movie, aside from a few minor exceptions. Still, they looked accurate and problem-free. While this isn't a superb transfer, the film looked better than I'd expected and provided a fine presentation of the film's fantastically composed widescreen cinematography.

SOUND: The 1985 film's Dolby 2.0 audio (available in both French and English dubbed) is adequate for the material. Audio quality remained fine throughout, as usual Besson collaborator Eric Serra's score came through cleanly, while dialogue and the occasional sound effect came through clearly, as well. The dubbed version of the soundtrack is just okay - much of it remains rather obviously dubbed (it was interesting to watch the subtitles and listen to the English soundtrack and see the differences).

MENUS:: Basic, non-animated menus that essentially use film-themed images and cover art.

EXTRAS:: Filmographies and bonus trailers for Besson's "The Big Blue", "The Professional" and "Messenger: Joan Of Arc".

Final Thoughts: A fine example of style over substance, Besson still keeps things moving and visually impressive enough to keep the picture entertaining and quite watchable. Columbia/Tristar's new DVD offers good audio/video quality, but the lack of supplements (as with all of Besson's films on DVD) remains dissapointing. Still, "Subway" is recommended.

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