Luc Besson is an amazing writer, producer and director from France, if you are not already familiar with him, I can tell you, you’re familiar with his work. Just to name a few, he’s responsible for the series: Taken, Taxi, Nikita, Transporter, District B13, Arthur and the Invisibles, Colombiana and so, so many others. After he made a splash early on directing films like The Big Blue, The Professional (Leon), and La Femme Nikita, he decided to direct a Sci-Fi film in 1997 that he started writing when he was a kid.
It’s one of the most under-rated film, and one of my favorites…The Fifth Element. At the time of it’s release, it didn’t do as good as expected for some strange reason, that I can’t fathom, but is simply an amazing film. The only thing I can think of is Chris Tucker is horribly miscast and makes his scenes unwatchable at times, because of his nails-on-a-chalkboard-line-delivery.
Great direction, great visuals and great action, it’s a fantastic film besides this small concession. Gary Oldman is just awesome as the bad guy in the film and he just steals the show at times. Bruce Willis does great and after Die Hard, this film really showcases his action chops. Milla Jovovich is introduced for the first time in this movie and is just great. She learned an entirely new and made up language for this film and is just flawless in her characterization. At the time this film was made, she was a professional linguist if you think about it, as she already was fluent in 4 languages! Luc Besson and Milla created the language LeeLoo speaks and by the end of the film they could have whole conversations in it. It’s not hard to see how she would eventually become a worldwide star.
Luc Besson is one of my favorite filmmakers and it’s simply because he does things he wants to do and doesn’t really confine himself to the “success” of it. The success becomes a product, of course, of the things he works on because of the quality and interest it generates. He said of his films in 2014, “I can’t do this job just like a business. If I don’t love the film and I’m not ready to get exhausted for it, I can’t do it. I can’t go to Hollywood, take a big cheque and say, “Action!” and “Cut!”. It’s just not me. I come from the source, from the ground up: putting cables together and holding cameras aged 17, and I’m physically like that. If I believe in a film, I don’t care if it’s very successful or not successful. I want to be proud of it. I’ve done films that worked a lot and films that didn’t work so well, and I don’t care. Angel-A (2005) was a black and white film in French – I love this film – and The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010) was a comedy in French, but then The Fifth Element (1997) was popular everywhere. It doesn’t matter because the real life of a film is ten years later. Two years ago I was in Korea and this 15 year-old Korean guy with a red mohawk came up to me aggressively – I was a little scared – and he said, “Subway (1985) is my favourite film!” I asked him how old he was and realised that he wasn’t even born when I made it. That’s the beauty of film.”