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Review: Luc Besson's action comedy Taxi

Old 03-17-00, 01:16 AM
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When it comes to movies, Hong Kong rocks. They get all the usual Hollywood fare, but then they also get all the coolest films from around the world AND they get them subtitled and widescreen! Such is the case with Luc Besson's "Taxi". Nowhere else in the WORLD do they produce this on DVD with English subtitles. Not only that, but the subs are removeable, the picture is a beautiful 2.35:1 transfer and the sound is DD5.1. It even includes a trailer. All for the low price of approx $15 US street. Only problem is that it's coded for region 3. Unusual for a HK disc (which are usually all region or region free).

I clued in on this film only recently, when the trailers for its SEQUEL began appearing on the Net. The trailer was action-packed and full of mad car stunts. Throw in Luc Besson's (Professional, Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita) name, and I just had to find out more about the movie. US IMDB informed me that Besson only wrote and produced, but the action was still great according to many reviews. A shallow but entertaining action comedy in the vein of Hollywood films with incredible car chases, they said. Well, after finally watching it, I have to say they're only half right. It IS a Hollywood-esque action comedy. It is shallow. But the car chases and action are really not that great. It's all the more disappointing when it's obvious that they easily could have been fantastic.

Let me try to explain without getting to abstract: There is some amazing driving and it is filmed with style and clarity. Truly wicked driving. The problem is that they're put together with absolutely no regards to the story or creating tension. There's almost no feeling of 'momentum'. Just shots of cars doing crazy driving, but no feeling it's going anywhere. Part of the problem is the music: It's funky French hip-hop, but it works for the dialogue parts, but it doesn't fit the chase scenes. During the climax, they play a laid back track instead of something tense and fast-paced. And the engine noises are subdued. It hurts the movie. But the main difficulty is still the editing, how it's all put together. Take "Ronin" (and most other classic movie car chases) as an example. You feel tense in the car sequences. There's a beginning, slow buildup and final explosive climax in each chase. With Taxi, it's more like a music video. Just cool images thrown together and set to music rather than any strong attempt at creating a little story.

I don't want to give the wrong impression, however. Taxi is by no means terrible. I guess I was just expecting something else. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the rest of the movie. Funny humour, an easy-going charismatic cast, very scenic city (not Paris for once), and some great driving. Just think of it as a comedy with action bits instead of the other way around and you won't be disappointed.

Online shoppers can buy it at www.asiacd.com for $24.99 plus shipping. I hear Chinatown shops in NYC also have it for a better price.

Oops! I didn't mention the plot. Here it is, straight from the IMDB: "In Marseilles (France), Daniel, an ancient pizza delivery boy, changes job to become a taxi driver, but his dream is to become an F1 pilot. Caught by the police for a huge speed infraction, he will help Emilien, a loser inspector on the track of German bank robbers, so he doesn't lose his license and his job."

It doesn't mention that Daniel has a helluva sweet car (a modified Peugot or something), and that's why he changes jobs and drives pedal-to-the-metal. Like I said, funny movie, great driving, and even a bit double-fisted gunplay.



[This message has been edited by ipkevin (edited March 16, 2000).]
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Old 03-17-00, 10:02 AM
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Thanks for this review ipkevin.

I've been contemplating this film since all the hub-ub on the talk forum and now feel more confident in the purchase

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~~ Lisa
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Old 03-23-00, 01:15 AM
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There is a Region 1 canadian version if you guys are interested? But honestly the movie suck, it made that much money in France because of its humour witch is very "frenchy" and mostly directed at arabic stereotypes. I could not find a single funny joke in this film (and I am french-canadian) but my wife (witch is from France) tought it was hilarious!! So be my gest!
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Old 03-23-00, 05:57 PM
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Arabic stereotypes? Were there even any arabs in this movie? Maybe my French isn't good enough... What parts were you referring to?
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Old 03-25-00, 10:29 PM
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arabic = algerian in this case

And please, this is NOT a Luc Besson film...
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Old 03-25-00, 11:50 PM
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Besson wrote and produced it. Any dialogue should be his and I would think he had some say in everything. Or maybe not..
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Old 03-29-00, 01:38 AM
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I do not know about your french but "beurre" when you reffer to a north african in Paris is the same thing as calling a black man "******". And look at Sami's (the driver) friends, neibourhood, attitudes and...profession!

excentris: On travaille fort sur la rue St-Laurent
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Old 03-29-00, 10:46 PM
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That's interesting. Thanks for clarifying!
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