Plot: What’s it about?
Fred (Christopher Lambert) is a slick, very hip thief and he loves to blow safes, as well as romance the ladies. He lives under the surface in the labyrinth of subway tunnels, where all sorts of strange denizens reside. This realm is filled with danger, distrust, and a struggle to survive, but Fred and his band of friends manage to make ends meet. He was chased by some henchman of a man he robbed, after he stole some important documents and as such, he has taken refuge underground, at least for now. He manages to meet and fall in love with Helena (Isabelle Adjani) however, the wife of the very wealthy man he has just stolen from, of all of people. Helena is bored with her life and is being blackmailed by Fred, who uses the resources to allow him and his friends to survive, though not much else. He might be down on his luck and living in the subway tunnels, but Fred has a dream and he plans to make it happen. If he can evade the rich man’s henchman, the dangerous residents of the tunnels, the Metro police, and all sorts of other obstacles, perhaps he can start his band and marry Helena, which is what he really wants to do, after all.
I’ve seen Subway a couple of times and above all else, it seems to remind me of one thing, the 1980s. I can’t help but think about the days of new wave music and outlandish fashion here, as Subway is 100% soaked in the culture of that era. I suppose it should be, since it was made right in the middle of the decade, but as I look back, the ’80s kick looks stronger and stronger each time I watch the flick. I mean, look at Christopher Lambert in any scene and you’ll realize the potent visual residue the ’80s leaves behind, I assure you. The clothes, the lighting, the sets, it all seems to be drenched in ’80s mode, but that is not a bad thing, per se. I like the ’80s look here and unless you despise the decade, I doubt it will lessen the experience. But enough about all that, as Luc Besson’s Subway is a cool, well made picture, especially for being Besson’s second feature length movie, after Le Dernier Combat. The visuals are natural and blend with the material, while the cinematography is excellent, simply masterful at times. Columbia’s disc has minimal supplements, but looks & sounds good, so this one is well worth a look, without a doubt.
Although this was only his second feature length project, director Luc Besson shows a lot of not potential, but pure skill in this picture. Of course, we see flashes of potential, but for the most part, Besson realizes his potential here, as a filmmaker, storyteller, and visual artist. I think Besson is perhaps best known for the visuals in his cinema and with good reason, as he loves to use memorable visual elements, especially colors and textures. Those tendencies are evident here, as Besson fills the underground realm with a distinct visual style, one loaded with stark contrast and beams of light, sometimes colored. I wouldn’t call this his most visually charged picture, but Subway is a very good movie, without a doubt. Other films by Besson include Le Dernier Combat, The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita, The Big Blue, and Leon: The Professional. The cast here includes Christopher Lambert (The Point Men, Mortal Kombat), Isabelle Adjani (Diabolique, The Story of Adele H.), and Jean Reno (Mission: Impossible, Just Visiting).
Video: How does it look?
Subway is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As a lot of films from the ’80s have aged beyond their years, I had doubts about Subway’s visual presence, but those doubts proved to be unfounded. The print used here is very clean, with no serious flaws to speak of and much to my surprise, minimal grain is evident. The colors are sometimes bold and vivid, while others more subdued, depending on how the scene is supposed to look. In any case however, the hues look as intended and remain true, while flesh tones are natural as well. No issues with contrast either, thanks to strong detail presence and stark black levels. I am quite impressed with this transfer, as the movie shows no real signs of age, impressive work indeed.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc includes the original French soundtrack in a 2.0 surround option, which I found to be more than adequate. The music by Besson regular Eric Serra is excellent and sounds great here, while sound effects are well presented also. I don’t think this option can measure up in terms of power or presence, but the material is presented in strong, natural form, so I see no reason to lay down complaints. The vocals are clean and clear at all times, with no volume errors or other issues to contend with. This disc also includes an English dub track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains some talent files, but no other bonus materials were included.