The Last Battle (1983)
By: Devon B. on October 10, 2012 | Comments
Madman | Region B | 2.35:1, 1080p | French LPCM 2.0 | 92 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Luc Besson
Starring: Pierre Jolivet, Jean Bouise, Fritz Wepper, Jean Reno
Screenplay: Luc Besson, Pierre Jolivet
Country: France
External Links
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I've considered myself a fan of Luc Besson ever since seeing Leon in the mid 90s, but my fandom has certainly been challenged in the past by projects like The Messenger, Kiss of the Dragon and The Messenger (which was so bad that it warrants a double negative against Besson). Since buying a Blu-ray player I've been revisiting Besson's oeuvre, but I went too Blu and got The Big Blue which made me almost as leery of Besson as The Messenger did all those years ago. The arty drama of The Big Blue had me very concerned about Besson's first film The Last Battle, which sounded even more arthouse than The Big Blue. Fortunately The Last Battle was nowhere near as bad as I feared, but I still have no fucking idea if I liked it.

The apocalypse has happened, and judging from the very 80s soundtrack, it must've happened around 1984. One of the apocalyptic events has rendered everyone mute, so the world seems pretty bleak. In the wasteland one man struggles to build a small aircraft so he can fly away from the area he's in. He succeeds in acquiring a vital part and flies off. Meanwhile, a very young Jean Reno is engaged in a battle of wits with a man who has locked himself away in an old hospital. The lead flies into Reno's area and runs afoul of him. Then things get really weird, particularly on the precipitation front.

The Last Battle was shot in black and white and the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. Even at the start of his career, Besson made exceptional use of the widescreen format, and The Last Battle looks magnificent. However, beauty is often superficial, and that's the case here. The film is slow moving, taking its time setting up the situation. The fact there's only about four words of dialogue didn't help me get absorbed in the story, either. This is definitely one for the arthouse set more than fans of Besson's action oriented films.

The apocalyptic wasteland is let down by the budget early in the film, but later on some impressive locations are used which gives the film a much higher production value than I expected from the early scenes. It still feels like a big budget student film rather than a low budget feature film, but the locations just add even more to the striking imagery Besson creates.

I don't regret watching The Last Battle like I regretted seeing The Messenger, but it's hardly essential viewing unless you can't get enough of well framed, black and white photography.
The print is sharp and stark. Grain is a bit more noticeable due to the brightness of the black and white photography, but I didn't find the grain distracting and will always prefer grain to DNR. The Last Battle looks excellent, and the only flaw I caught in the transfer was a small amount of macroblocking.
The audio is a French LPCM 2.0 mix. This is presumably the original audio track, and it's perfectly serviceable.
Extra Features
The only extra is a trailer from a 92 re-release, which does make The Last Battle out to be more high adrenaline than it is.
The Verdict
Just because it probably all meant something doesn't mean I understood it. I can see that The Last Battle is a worthwhile, if pretentious, film, but it's not one I would revisit often.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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