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The Fifth Element

Written and directed by Luc Besson, this generation's most brilliant and prolific action movie creator, The Fifth Element is this superb little piece of filmmaking that some how manages to hold up over the years.

The quick summary: A cabbie, a priest, a radio show host, and a beautiful alien woman race to save the world. An evil power, a greedy businessman, and some ugly aliens try to stop them. Dramatic adventures ensue.

This movie is an amalgamation of all the sci-fi that came before it; Barbarella (There are whacky costumes galore!), Blade Runner Flying police cars? Yup. Asian noodles? Sure.), Star Wars (SO MANY stolen ship designs.), and Total Recall (nearly identical vision of future transportation.) with a little Roger Rabbit, Brazil, and  Toys on the side. In fact, I think you'd be harder pressed to find a movie NOT represented in The Fifth Element than for me to continue trying to list ones that definitely are.

It's also a mix of nearly every action movie trope you can dream up, as well. Right in the middle of it all? Bruce Willis - the most charming action hero of all time. His comic timing has served him so well in the action genre. He has an unmatched ability to deliver a snarky one-liner. His ability to be funny absolutely set a benchmark for action stars of the late 80's and early 90's.

The soundtrack is utterly fascinating. It's as though they took all of the music in the world, poured it into a bucket, and dumped it back into the movie. Occasional whale songs can be heard. There's Middle Eastern bits and erotic dance beats you'd swear Prince dreamed up.

And speaking of Prince: Chris Tucker's Ruby Rhod couldn't be any more classically Prince if they'd actually gotten the great man himself to appear. I've read that he wasn't excited about portraying such a flamboyant character, which I can only assume has something to do with homophobia (not annoyance) because he is equally as obnoxious (if less glamorously dressed) in every other movie he's ever been in.

I can't think of any other movie, that isn't a fetish flick, with a wardrobe that so heavily features rubber. This may be attributed to having Jean Paul Gaultier heading up the costume designs.

There's also some incredible and hilarious technology (as well as set design) that might have come from the mind of a 15 year old after their first hit of Ex. Glow sticks everywhere. Shiny metallic things that spin. Bamboo curtains. Purple velour couches. Nail polish changing machines (a la Total Recall.) Guns with net launchers. "Microwaves" that turn bouillon cubes into fully cooked chickens. What a hilariously magical world!

For me, the real star of this movie will ALWAYS be Gary Oldman, who plays the absolute perfect cartoon villain. His office is like some weird Jetsons meets The Flintstones with little robot helpers and some fantasy dinosaur looking creature hidden away in his desk. He's this sleazy, used car sales man type trying his hand at being an arms dealer and philosopher. He's an unmitigated badass and a goofy failure with terrible timing.

In case you've been under a rock for the past 20 years, here's The Fifth Element trailer. You're missing a hilariously fantastic time. Now go watch the movie immediately.

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