250 years in the future, all will be lost unless the fifth element is found. This movie was another of Luc Besson’s triumphs, and it mots of great things going for it. It was the big debuts for the talents of the lovely Milla Jovovich and the fun-loving silliness of Chris Tucker. These newcomers were joined by veterans of many genres, Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, and Ian Holm, along with other supporting cast members that many film-watchers will recognise. So on with this colourful story…
In 1911, the current Edwardian trend is archeology, and an old explorer, Professor Pacoli (John Bluthal) and his young assistant, Billy (Luke Perry) are studying a fresco filled with Kemetic hieroglyphics in a tomb entrance, and some odd symbols are showing up that cannot be explained. Outside, there are some young local boys that are working for the professor, carrying water and supplies and such. What looks to be a sandstorm kicks up, and a old priest tells the boys to run home to safety. Inside there is one boy holding a mirror to reflect light for the professor to work by, but as the priest approaches, we see the that there is no sandstorm, but a giant spaceship hovering over the tomb. Several heavily armoured aliens, the Monascheiwans, come out, and the priest attempts to tell them that the world was not ready for their secret to be revealed, and that he tried to stop the professor from finding what was in the tomb. Inside are some stones on pedestals and what looks to be an upright sarcophagus. The aliens take the stones, and the professor falls dead from a fear-induced heart attack. Billy is all but forgotten, but he does manage to make a rough sketch of one of the aliens. The priest and Billy are left behind, and the secret is safe for a couple more hundred years.
Fast forward to an earth that is over-crowded and over stimulated by some of the silliest things. Our focus is on one man in particular. He is Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis). He was part of an elite commando unit, but is now a civilian and is working as a cab driver. He’s living in an odd sterile, automated apartment with his cat, and has a bad history with his job, his relationships, and family. Things have changed much over the centuries, and New York City’s urban sprawl moved upwards instead of outwards. The streets are constantly blanketed in a fog, and there are networks of flying vehicle routes above the streets. Most everything is mobile, or can be reached using one of these kinds of cars. Unknown to Korben, a huge entity is invading our galaxy, and it has the power to destroy just about anything it touches. It is simply known as “the Evil”. The Evil has its ally in Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman), a corporate hotshot who is going to make even more profits off the chaos the Evil will bring, and he is using his goons, the ruthless, but stupid, Mangalores to stop the transport of something called “The Fifth Element” to earth.
Zorg’s goons do manage to intercept the transport, and everyone is killed, but a hand and forearm of the “perfect-being” used to stop the evil, remain. It is taken to a lab, where they use advanced DNA technology to rebuild the person that was being transported. Once the pieces come together, we see that the being has the form of a young woman with brilliant orange-red hair. She awakens in pain and shock, and is confused about where she is, and lashes out violently, and escapes from the lab. Once she reaches a ledge outside, she is surrounded by the law, and sees the only way out is to take a dive down. She literally falls into Korben’s cab, and they both go for a wild ride attempting to evade the law after she makes a tearful plea in broken English. This young lady is known simply as Leeloo, and she is the key to stopping the Evil from reaching and destroying Earth.
The Fifth Element is a rollercoaster ride of a fun sci-fi film that never lets up once it gets started. Every character advances the story a little bit, from Korben’s nagging mother that we only hear, but never see, to the flamboyant Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) whom Korben and Leeloo meet on a trip to a paradise planet. Even some of the non-Mangaloren goons under Zorg’s employ give us a good laugh, and it is amazing that Zorg is so successful when he has so many idiots working under him. This movie had a budget of $90,000,000, and took in $185,800,000 globally, not including the gross from the USA, and we still watching occasionally on DVD now. That’s some staying power. For now, Willis, Oldman, Holm, Jovovitch, and Tucker have moved on to other things, but this movie has become a post-modern classic already. It’s great to see where all these players went from here, including director Luc Besson, who also gave us the Arthur and Invisibles Trilogy. Don’t think there will be a trilogy based on The Fifth Element, but it’s fun to think about.
I give this film a Musing review of