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Happy-go-lucky criminal Fred (Christopher Lambert) likes to court trouble, so to impress a woman he's infatuated with, Helena (Isabel Adjani), he blows up her safe and steals some valuable papers — which, unfortunately, doesn't go over too well with Helena's husband. On the run from her husband's bodyguards, Fred hides out in a large subway station, only to find an entire society of strange but sociable denizens who live in the vast tunnels and rooms that lay underneath the city. Contacting Helena, Fred both professes his love for her and delivers a ransom request for the papers. In the meantime, he also assists some of his fellow cellar-dwellers with various dilemmas — finding a lead singer for a band, helping the flower salesman (Richard Bohringer) rob a train, and he also romances Helena under the none-too-watchful eye of the Metro police. Luc Besson's ode to both New Waves (the music and the French film movement), 1985's Subway gets more points for trying than actually succeeding at making a light comic soufflé. Perhaps it's because the film isn't sprightly enough to really cook; perhaps whimsical films are a tough task; perhaps Besson doesn't have the deft playful touch needed here. But whatever it is, a crucial ingredient is missing from making Subway the masterpiece it'd like to be. Being Besson's second film, it has a some good things going for it — as with all of his films, his flair for widescreen composition is always engaging (the man has an inherent gift for composing a shot). Besson also gets good work out of Lambert, who looks wonderful with a bright yellow punk haircut, making the actor an appealing and respectable lead — something all the grade-Z horror films he's made of late might give doubts to. The supporting cast is also excellent (including Jean Hughes Anglade and Besson regular Jean Reno), and the score by Eric Serra — who provided the music on Besson's first film, Le Dernier Combat, and every film since — is as light and playful as the film is meant to be. Columbia TriStar's Subway DVD improves upon the initial pan-and-scan public domain disc by featuring an anamorphic widescreen presentation (2.35:1), which finally makes sense of a picture that suffers horribly when cropped. Audio is in both English and French Dolby 2.0 Surround. Lambert does his own dubbing on the English track, but the French version with subtitles (available in English, French, or Spanish) is the better choice. Filmographies, bonus trailers. Keep-case.

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