Subway (1985)
By: Devon B. on February 6, 2012  | 
Madman | Region B | 2.35:1, 1080p | French LPCM 2.0 | 102 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Luc Besson
Starring: Isabelle Adjani, Christophe Lambert, Richard Bohringer, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Michel Galabru
Screenplay: Luc Besson
Country: France
External Links
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I've long been a fan of Luc Besson, but never managed to see Subway. Any copy I ever found was always dubbed, and after sitting through the travesty that is the dubbed version of A Better Tomorrow I try to watch everything in its original language. I learned while doing research for this review that I wasn't the only one that couldn't find a French language release of Subway because it was fairly rare in the States. My partner has always maintained that I would like it, so when the Blu Ray came out we sat down to watch it together. The movie she remembered was very different from the one I saw...

Subway doesn't have a lot going on story wise, which makes a plot summary that doesn't include spoilers difficult. The film opens with Christophe Lambert fleeing from some pursuers. He makes a dynamic escape into the subway system, and hides. He's fleeing because he has stolen some documents, and once he's successfully made his escape he contacts the woman (Isabelle Adjani) he has stolen from to try to blackmail her for the documents return. The relationship between them is an odd one, and what's going on isn't explained until well into the film, so I'm being deliberately vague here. It is clear right away that they're not your usual blackmailer and blackmailee, though. A lot of the film involves the other denizens of the subway; a cast of characters ranging from eccentric to insane. If you like watching odd people, Subway is a winner. If you want action like in some of Besson's other films, you'll find Subway lacking as the opening car chase sequence is sadly almost all there is.

My partner recalled the movie being much darker and edgier, which confirmed my suspicions while our viewing that Subway hasn't aged well. The movie is 80s as all fuck, and as a result the film's tone has changed. For example, I thought Jean Reno's character was meant to be a flamingly gay drummer – he's just a hip dude from the 80s. Besson has always been a bit hit and miss, and I would say Subway is more of a hit than a miss, and for people that saw it in the 80s it may retain more of its initial power. As always, Besson's use of the frame is exceptional, and he deftly balances the bright and vibrant aspects of the film with the darker and dingier elements. The film has some nice quirky humour and a slightly surreal vibe, but not a lot happens during the run time.
Subway doesn't look like a high budget film, but usually the image is sharp and the film does pop occasionally. Grain is present and occasionally heavy, but the only flaws I really noticed were in the opening scene where smears on the lens are a bit distracting, and there're some dark hazy patches. I doubt this is a flaw in the transfer, but rather a problem with the source elements, particularly the smears on the lens which presumably weren't added in digitally for the Blu Ray release.
The audio is a French 2.0 LPCM track which should delight purists. Subway is a character driven film, so it probably doesn't even need a surround remix, and this track is plenty good for what the film is.
Extra Features
The film's trailer is included.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
I probably would've loved Subway in the early 90s, but now that it's more than a quarter century old some of its elements are passÚ. If you're a fan of the film and not worried about extras, this release is solid. Not that there's a lot of competition on the extras front as none of the current Blu releases appear to have anything additional.

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