The Fifth Element: Wonderfully Terrible and Terribly Wonderful

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By: Corey Lack

 

The Fifth Element was a action comedy sci-fi movie released back in 1997 and has since gained a major cult following. I myself am a big fan of the movie, having seen it multiple times, but even now, I can’t say why it is enjoyable. The special effects are pretty lackluster even for that time and the plot was unfocused and random at times.

 

Despite this, the movie draws the viewers in with unique characters, surprising comedy, and clever camera work. It is nearly impossible to watch the movie and not laugh from Chris Tucker’s Ruby Rhod or from Mila Jovovich’s innocent Leeloo. Heck, even Gary Oldman’s villainous Zorg is responsible for some surprising comedy. In regards to the camera work, the most interesting part about it was that there would be parts of the movie where it would take clips from scenes happening with different characters and not connected but still blend them together in order to create an overarching scene that pushes multiple characters’ stories forward at the same time.

 

Beyond the comedy, there is actually some pretty good action sequences. There’s a scene where Bruce Willis is taking on a horde of bad guys singlehandedly a la Die Hard. He steals one bad guy’s gun and manages to use it to blast through them, despite being outnumbered and outgunned. Then, there’s Jovovich’s scene where she gets to demonstrate her hand-to-hand movies that most people nowadays probably know her by. The two scenes were quite different. Willis’s scene was longer and over the top and Jovovich’s was faster and efficient with an opera being sung in the background.

 

One of my favorite things about the movie, however, is definitely one of the behind-the-scenes stories that I learned about a little while ago. Through most of the movie, Jovovich’s Leeloo speaks the so-called “Divine Language,” a language that was created by co-writer and director Luc Besson. In fact, the two were having entire conversations in the created language by the end of filming. So, when Leeloo bumps, shall we say, into Bruce Willis’s Korben Dallas, she can’t speak English and goes off in the fast-talking one-sided conversation where she seemed to be describing the events she’d just been through. Korben, not understanding a word, of course, could only smile with uncertainty and amusement at her innocent exuberance, but that’s where the interesting story comes in. Willis had not been informed ahead of time what it was that Jovovich’s character was going to say, so where she started belting out this alien language he’d never heard before, he was genuine in his reaction.

 

Okay, so maybe I do know why I like this movie so much, but on paper, it should not work as well as it does. To be honest, if it were described to me without my having seen it, I would have thrown it in the proverbial dustbin and never thought about it again, but I have seen it and I regret nothing.

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