Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 1st, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: France, April 10th, 1985
Director: Luc Besson
Writers: Luc Besson, Pierre Jolivet, Alain Le Henry, Marc Perrier, Sophie Schmit
Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Christopher Lambert, Richard Bohringer, Michel Galabru, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Bouise, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Jean-Claude Lecas, Pierre-Ange Le Pogam, Jean Reno
BluRay released: September 14th, 2009
Approximate running time: 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo French
BluRay Release: Optimum Releasing
Region Coding: Region B (UK)
Retail Price: £24.99
Synopsis: A woman is blackmailed by a stranger who has stolen files from her home. In an attempt to retrieve the files the woman meets the blackmailer in a subway. Things go awry during the exchange when men working for her husband try to apprehend the blackmailer, who flees and hides out in the subway.
Subway opens with a spectacular car chase in which a blackmailer named Fred is being chased by four men in a car through the streets of pair. The way this scene is edited and evolves also leads to a humorous moment where an older man doing his exercises is nearly decapitated when Fred’s car smashes through a rail on the sidewalk above where the man is exorcising. This clever opening is one of only a handful of scenes that take place out of the subway which has become Fred’s sanctuary. Even though the bulk of the film takes place in the subway and its underground corridors this does not lessen the evolving story which is actually a very lively affair that is populated with many eccentric characters. Also this film takes its time in revealing who everyone is and what their motives really are.
Subway was co-written and directed by Luc Besson (Le Femme Nikita, Léon). Out of all of the films that Luc Besson has directed to date, Subway is the most dated of the lot with its visual style is firmly entrenched in the décor of the 1980’s. Despite some of this films visual shortcomings there are a few moments that foreshadow the visual style that is prominent in the bulk of the his films that he has made since Subway. The plot revolves mainly around two characters Fred a conman / thief and Héléna the woman he is blackmailing. One of the more endearing aspects of this film is the relationship between these two characters that start off as complete opposites at the beginning of the film. Fred is quickly smitten with Héléna after coming across a photograph of her as a child, while she Héléna accustomed to getting her way. She is initially annoyed by the intrusion Fred into her life. There are other sub-plots introduced along the way that play off the evolving and at times bizarre relationship between Fred and Héléna.
One of the main reasons why this film works as well as its does is because it is blessed with an exceptional cast which includes Christopher Lambert (Highlander) and Isabelle Adjani (The Tenant, Nosferatu the Vampyre, Possession), in the two main roles Fred and Héléna, respectively. Other notable performances come from Jean-Hugues Anglade (Betty Blue, Le Femme Nikita, Killing Zoe) , who plays one of the subway dwellers who rides around on roller skates and Jean Reno (Léon) who pays another subway dweller who is a drummer. Performance wise the entire cast are all pitch perfect in their respective roles. In between the action, drama and evolving romance the films also features some comic relief in the form of the security staff who works at the subway. There are two security guards who just happen to be named Batman and Robin. For the score, Luc Besson once again teams up with composer Eric Serra who even appears in the film in a substantial secondary role. Ultimately Subway is not an easy film to digest with its unconventional plot and yet the end result is an extraordinary experience for those who have the patience and endurance to see things through.
Subway comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Flesh tones look healthy; colors look nicely saturated and black levels and contrast fare well for the most part. Edge enhancement is kept in check and grain looks natural outside of a few shots where it looks overly thick. Despite some of this transfers short comings this transfer is as good as this film has looked on home video to date.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in French and removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and error free have been included. The audio is in good shape as there are no problems with distortion or background noise. Dialog is clear and everything sounds balanced, with the score benefiting the most from this audio mix.
Extras for this release are limited to a theatrical trailer for the film (1 minute 57 seconds – Anamorphic Widescreen – in French with English subtitles). The theatrical trailer is presented in a standard definition PAL. Overall Subway gets a satisfactory BluRay release from Optimum Releasing that is lacking in extra content and the transfer leaves room for improvement.