06th Nov2014

‘Taxi’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Samy Naceri, Frédéric Diefenthal, Marion Cotillard, Manuela Gourary, Emma Sjöberg, Bernard Farcy, Georges Neri, Dan Herzberg, Sébastien Thiery, Philippe du Janerand | Written by Luc Besson | Directed by Gérard Pirès

Taxi-Blu

Classic high-octane car chase thriller Taxi, created by renowned writer/director/producer Luc Besson, is cult action comedy about a speed freak taxi driver who is forced to make a deal with the police or lose his licence. The film has spawned three sequels, an American remake and a TV series which has sadly not found a UK broadcaster as yet. Now the original film, which introduced the world to high speed car chases and gallic action, hits Blu-ray courtesy of Second Sight, in a new high-def transfer that makes the film look as fresh and exciting today as it did on its debut in 1998.

Like a lot of more modern Besson movies, the plot of Taxi is relatively simple: speed freak Taxi driver Daniel is forced to make a deal with the police or lose his licence. His reckless skills behind the wheel are just what the bungling local inspector needs to catch a gang of serial bank robbers. Together the misfit pair team up for the heart-pounding, adrenaline-filled chases through the streets of Marseilles. But the plot is only something for writer Luc Besson and director Gérard Pirès to hang their crazy action on!

I distinctly remember the first time I ever saw Taxi, it was one of those films that was being hyped up by everyone – even those who hadn’t seen it yet. Most were basing their opinion on the films action-movie pedigree, after all this was the latest film from Luc Besson (here only performing writing duties), who name was synonymous with superb action movies.

The film was announced during Besson’s rise to action-movie stardom, when he was both a critical and commercial darling, fresh of the back of La Femme Nikita and its US remake, and his masterpiece Leon: The Professional. Rumour has it that Taxi was in fact penned by Besson during downtime before the filming of The Fifth Element, which is why he did not take the directorial reigns for this move. Not that you wouldn’t guess this was a Luc Besson movie – it’s rife with the same action, laughs and kinetic energy that were trademarks of his films then and now (although they seem to be lacking in some of his most recent productions).

It may have been the fact I haven’t seen the film in some time, or maybe it was the superb new HD print on this Blu-ray, but rewatching themovie was like an almost-new experience. Watching it on Blu-ray, rather than the old VHS copy I had, really gave the crazy driving stunts a new lease of life. With the added clarity of high definition you can clearly see all the meticulous planning and sheer skill that went into each and every stunt in the film – be they big or small – and the lack of wires, over-the-top special effects or CGI enhancements really gave me a new appreciation for what director Gérard Pirès and co. did to bring Taxi to the screen.

The set-up is preposterous, the driving improbable and Samy Naceri’s relationship with the gorgeous Marion Cotillard is unbelieveable, but that’s what makes Taxi so great – it’s wish-fulfillment cinema at its best… Who wouldn’t want to race round the streets at ridiculous speeds, in a car that can transform from traditional car to aerodynamic roadster at the flick of a switch? It’s safe to say that without this movie there would be no Fast & Furious franchise – even if audiences did have to suffer the indignity of the Queen Latifah starring US remake first!

If you haven’t seen Taxi (why not?) then this new Blu-ray is an essential purchase. If you have seen it, then Second Sight’s new disc is also well-worthy of a purchase – believe me, it’s like watching the film with new, more-appreciative, eyes.

Taxi is released on Blu-ray on November 10th, courtesy of Second Sight.

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