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A story about love and survival, heroes and villains, good and evil, set in a strangely familiar yet intoxicatingly different 23rd Century. Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) drives a New York flying taxi, and becomes an unlikely hero, when Leeloo (Milla Jovovich) a genetically engineered woman (the fifth element) falls into his cab, on the run from the police. Dallas becomes the one chosen to save the world against destruction by the planet which epitomises evil. (The title refers to the four elements of alchemic Greek tradition - earth, air, fire and water. These elements gathered together create the fifth: life.)

Review by Louise Keller:
Luc Besson has come up with a scream of a futuristic sci-fi extravaganza, with a mélange of extravagant special effects, bizarre characters, cute concepts, and charismatic leads, all thrust together in a fable-like story with humour. Admittedly, there are holes in the piece, but once committed to the ride, it is reasonably easy to forgive the flaws.

Bruce Willis as Korben Dallas is terrific, and solidly anchors the fantasy into a human tale. Willis shines in these roles, as the unlikely hero, who saves the day, or as in this case, saves the world. Milla Jovovich (Leeloo), with her impossibly orange hair, wide-spaced turquoise eyes, sylph-like body and baby-doll look, is the epitome of sci-fi's 10 - perfect. Jovovich is charming, as she utters her nonsensical tirade of unknown blahblah language. And Chris Tucker as the radio star Ruby Rhod is a screaming hyena on heat. There are incidental characters who will leave an impression: the faceless bartender robot, the Diva - a close relation to Lisa Marie's character in Mars Attacks.

It's not a laugh a minute, but the humour builds up, and even the violence is tinged with it. Designer Jean-Paul Gaultier must have had a field day dreaming up the costumes, which are lush and vibrant. The Fifth Element brings new meaning to flying through traffic and Chinese take-away to your door; while McDonalds and Qantas may get ideas for a whole new look.

A hefty extras package begins with a fascinating 17 minute featurette about the film's visual genesis - and this is just the first of more than half a dozen chapters in the Visual Element section, which itself is one of half a dozen sections on Disc 2. The French flavour comes through in the production and there is enough material to keep you glued to the screen for hours. Like the 10 minute Digital element featurette, which shows some of the trickery used to achieve the more spectacular scenes, like Leeloo jumping off the ledge of the skyscraper.

In The Star Element, there is a nicely self effacing interview with Bruce Willis (looks like it was shot waterside at Cannes). And The Fashion element is hilarious: the fashions are tacky yet tasteful, provocative yet protective, says the commentary, and that's just about sums up the whole package.

Published February 10, 2005

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(US, 1997)

CAST: Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich, Ian Holm, Chris Tucker, Luke Perry, Brion James, Lee Evans, Tricky

PRODUCER: Patrice LeDoux

DIRECTOR: Luc Besson

SCRIPT: Robert Mark Kamen

RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc 1: feature, with optional fact track (displays trivia during movie) in English or Spanish;[BREAK]Disc 2: The Visual Element; The Digital Element; The Star Element; The Alien Element; The Fashion Element; The Diva; Poster Gallery; subtitles in English, Spanish, Hindi.

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: February 9, 2005

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