My Favorite Directors: Luc Besson

Hi all…

While in college I was introduced to the movie La Femme Nikita, a French film with English subtitles about a criminal forced to work for a spy agency. It starred Anne Parillaud as Nikita (Besson’s first wife) and Jean Reno even had a role, as he has had in most of Besson’s films.

La Femme Nikita’s stark world and crisp story brought Luc Besson to my attention in the early 1990s and he held it continuing to produce movies like The Professional (1994), which had Jean Reno in a starring role with Natalie Portman and Gary Oldman. In 1997 there was The Fifth Element, which blew my mind and is still one of my favorite movies. Starring Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich (who would later become Besson’s second wife), and Gary Oldman. In 1999, there was The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, which starred Milla Jovovich as Joan, Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, and John Malkovich.

Promotional image for Milla Jovovich and other...

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He not only directs, but also produces and writes behind the scenes. Movies such as The Transporter, which launched Jason Statham‘s career and has spawned two sequels (one of which comes out later this year), District B13, Danny the Dog (also known as Unleashed, starring Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, and Bob Hoskins

Besson has had one heck of a career so far. And though he focuses on action films for the most part, I have to say that he’s also explored some deeper territory with movies like The Messenger and Danny the Dog. These are not your run of the mill action films. They have a heart and a message.

Luc Besson was born in Paris in 1959, son to two scuba instructors traveling and teaching around the world. As a child, he wrote early drafts of a number of stories, including The Fifth Element, while bored at school. His dreams of becoming a marine biologist focused on dolphins was shattered when, at age 17, he had a diving accident and was no longer able to dive.

It was after that he discovered television and movies and learned he could merge his various art interests together to tell stories. After a few years in America, he returned to France and started what was later named Les Films de Dauphins (The Films of Dolphins).

In 2008, Besson has two films coming to the big screen — Taken (starring Liam Neeson) and Transporter 3 (again starring Jason Statham). His career doesn’t seem to be slowing down any after that either, with thirteen more films in production for 2008 – 2011 according to IMDB.

I can only hope that as he hits age 50 in 2009 that he continues on his stride of making fun and intelligent movies!

–Fitz

p.s. If you want to pick up some of Luc Besson’s films, be sure to check out the following at Amazon:

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DVD Review: Doomsday (Unrated Version) (2008)

Hi all…

Rhona Mitra joins a mishmash of plots from Mad Max, Resident Evil, a bit of Gladiator, and Lara Croft. And you’re left kind of wondering… why you watched this film. The bits and pieces of other plots were better served by those other movies.

And though Mitra does a fine job as a female action hero, she’s been sucked into a less than great plot along with Bob Hoskins and Malcolm MacDowell.

[rating:1/4]

Doomsday‘s plot revolves around a flu virus that begins eating flesh and killing people, spreading like wildfire in Great Britain. The answer was to build a wall (evidently they’ve been talking to Congress about the wall on the southern border) and basically cut them loose to fend for themselves.

Years later, you end up with an overpopulation problem (imagine that) and a resurgence of the virus, which forces the government to admit that some people have survived on the [gasp] unhealthy side of the wall. They send a team (led by Mitra’s character, Eden) over the wall to see if a scientist (MacDowell) managed to find a cure and bring it back.

You can guess how the mission went.

People on the “other” side of the wall are rightfully upset about being left behind. They live a medieval/Mad Max lifestyle where they may even eat some of their enemies.

From there, the movie breaks down into a bunch of car chases, explosions, and political maneuvering.

Was there anything to like in this film? Well… Rhona Mitra (gorgeous as ever) and Bob Hoskins were good as always, and MacDowell was fine, though his role was pretty poorly written.

What not to like? The rest of it. The eyeball trick seen early in the movie got old quickly. But really the rest relied almost entirely on a series of Mad Max-style road chases.

If you like explosions, bad one-liners, and lots of tattoos and bad hair, this movie is for you. Unfortunately, both my wife and I were not all that impressed. I’m giving it 1 out of 4. Even Rhona Mitra couldn’t save it.

–Fitz

p.s. If you really want to pick this one up on DVD, check it out at the Amazon links below:

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