The Fifth Element is a 1997 English-language French Science Fiction Film produced by Gaumont. The brainchild of producer, director and screenwriter Luc Besson, it stars Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich, Chris Tucker and Ian Holm. The soundtrack was composed by Besson's longtime collaborator, Éric Serra. It was released by Sony Pictures Releasing under Columbia Pictures in North America, while in France it was released by Disney under Gaumont Buena Vista International.
The movie opens in 1914, in an Egyptian temple, where an archaeologist, assisted by a reporter, discovers hieroglyphs that report about a Great Evil that is unleashed and tries to destroy all life every five millennia, and the weapons to defeat it: four stones representing water, fire, air and earth and a "perfect being" representing a fifth element sealed in a sarcophagus. A priest on site seems incredibly disturbed that the discovery is being made, going so far as to (unsuccessfully) poison the archaeologist to prevent the discovery.
Just as the discovery is made, the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who made the temple in the first place (and whom the priest, and all those who have come before him, have secretly served) arrive in a giant spaceship and take away the stones and the sarcophagus, explaining that they are unsafe because of the imminent war on Earth. The aliens also order the priest to continue to take care of the temple and to pass on his knowledge, as it was passed on to him, to prepare for the Great Evil's incoming. The priest points out that they're leaving Earth defenseless, and the aliens reply that when the Great Evil returns, so shall they. Cut to...
2263, when the Great Evil is starting to form itself. On their way to deliver the five elements back, the aliens are shot down by a ship of another race of proud warrior aliens, who steal the box which would contain the stones. The remains of the "fifth element" are found and Earth scientists reconstruct it, generating an orange-haired Mysterious Waif named Leeloominaï Lekatariba Lamina-Tchaï Ekbat De Sebat, or "Leeloo" for short, who breaks out of the lab and dives into a taxi driven by ex-soldier Korben Dallas. With the Great Evil getting closer, Korben has to help Leeloo save the planet.
The Fifth Element provides examples of:
- 2-D Space: The border of the Federated Territories is a massive line of buoys (presumably scanners) which detect incoming ships and turn green to indicate that they may pass. There's not even multiple lines.
- Absurdly Huge Population: The President of Earth mentions "some 200 billion of my fellow citizens", although these might not all be on Earth.
- Achievements in Ignorance: As they are trying to activate the stones, there are no instructions or directions found. David lets out a frustrated sigh, accidentally blowing air onto the Air stone. It reacts by slightly opening. After he alerts the others, David remembers about the breath and Korben surmmizes that the stones are simple: air (David's breath) for Air, water (Cornelius' sweat) for Water, earth (dirt) for Earth and fire (Korben's match) for Fire. Good thing he hadn't given up smoking!
- Action Girlfriend: Leeloo. She's an Ultimate Lifeform that was bred for war.
- Activation Sequence: Once the elements are collected, it's necessary to trigger the keystones with their respective Four-Element Ensemble, Leeloo and Dallas as Element No. 5, to activate the Pillar of Light that will neutralize the Eldritch Abomination that threatens the Earth.
- Actor Allusion:
- Ian Holm on a spaceship with a man called Dallas. At least this time he's stopping aliens instead of helping them.
- The Diva's name translates as 'blue lagoon' in Croatian. Milla Jovovich, who plays Leeloo, had starred in Return to the Blue Lagoon.
- Aerith and Bob: In the same character's name, no less. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel... Zorg?
- Affably Evil: Zorg is cold, calculating, and ruthless, but also devilishly charming and considers his line of work not all that different from Cornelius's.
- Aggressive Negotiations: Korben Dallas negotiates by shooting the leader of the Mangalores, knowing this will take the fight out of the others.Korben: Anyone else want to negotiate?
Fog: [to Ruby] Where did he learn to negotiate like that?
[listening in back on Earth]
Lindberg: [with a glare towards General Munro] I wonder.
- Air-Vent Passageway: Played straight when Leeloo escapes the lab in the beginning. Subverted when she tries it against Zorg; he has a machine gun and the vent is noisy, so he does eventually hit her.
- Always Accurate Attack: The Replay feature on the ZF-1, which fires a tracer bullet, after which every shot fired will home in on it, even if the gun is pointed in the opposite direction.
- Ancient Order of Protectors: The Mondoshawan's Earth followers seem to have elements of this. One is willing to kill an archaeologist who is on the verge of discovering the elemental weapon.
- And Starring: The opening's cast roll ends with "and Luke Perry".
- Animal Espionage: One of Zorg's minions uses a cockroach fitted with a hilariously conspicuous transmitter to spy on the president. The roach also seems to have a brain implant that allows him some rudimentary control over it. The president eventually notices the bug and squashes it, causing painful feedback for the listener. (Note that this is a parodical exaggeration. Despite the film being set a few centuries in the future, in real life the technology already exists to do this trick more effectively.)
- Arc Number: The number 5 appears throughout the movie.
- Arc Words:
- "Time not important. Only life important."
- "Four elements gathered around a fifth."
- Artificial Person: Leeloo was created by the Mondoshawan; prior to her reconstruction in a human government hospital, she was in fact treated as nothing more (or less) than the focal point of an elemental Converging-Stream Weapon.
- Artistic License – History: The gun that Billy pulls out in the opening is a Mauser M712 Schnellfeuer. While the C96 "Broomhandle" pistol had been available for almost two decades by 1914, the Schnellfeuer full-automatic model was not introduced until the 1930s.
- Artistic License – Physics:
- The battleship captain says that the Dark Planet is giving conflicting temperature readings varying from one million degrees to -5000. There is no temperature scale that goes to -5000, as absolute zero (or 0 Kelvin) is only -273 Celsius. Of course, this could simply be a result of the sensors being jammed, as was mentioned just prior.
- During the climax, the Dark Planet is described as having been stopped 62 miles from impact. Previously, the Planet was described as being 1200 miles in diameter. This means an object about three fourths the size of earth's moon is parked in an orbit no more than 62 miles above earth's surface. That's closer than the orbit of a geosynchronous satellite. Not only would such an orbit be untenable, but an object that size orbiting that close to earth would wreak utter havoc on the planet's surface due to tidal forces. In fact that's so close the limb of the Dark Planet would be inside earth's atmosphere.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: The cops, to Korben.Cop: Are you classified as human?
Korben: Uhh, negative. I am a meat popsicle.
- Of course, there are other sapient alien races, some of whom can don human disguises, so maybe the question really was just standard procedure (though of course deliberately disguised aliens would likely lie about this too).
- Asshole Victim: While being wrongfully arrested, kidnapped by Mangalores, and having his identity stolen is pitiable, one has a hard time feeling sorry for Korben's neighbor when his response to the police ordering him to follow instructions is to obnoxiously tell them to screw off.
- Attack Backfire: The big dark planet of evil is attacked by Earth's military with several missiles. Instead of the missiles hurting it, they cause it to get bigger.
- At the Opera Tonight: One of the most entertaining opera scenes on film, intercut with a fight scene for Leeloo. Actually an opera in space in a Space Opera.
- Auto-Doc: The machine used to "repair" Leeloo. It actually reconstructs her from what is essentially a bone fragment containing living cells. In an example of Life Imitates Art, it acts like a modern 3-D printer.
- Ax-Crazy: Zorg. His reaction to any slight is to kill whoever does it, usually via explosion or gunfire. It's a perfect showcase of how grateful he is for Father Cornelius saving his life that he decides to spare him.
- Badass Adorable: Leeloo is cute, innocent, has no social skills or nudity taboo and is perfectly capable of breaking every bone in your body without breaking a sweat. Which she will do if you cross her, and especially come damn close to doing if you kiss her "without her permission."
- Badass Normal: Korben Dallas. Leeloo is an Ultimate Lifeform bred to fight, he's just an Old Soldier with plenty of experience.
- Bad Boss: Never disappoint Zorg, or you might catch a sudden case of spontaneous combustion. For that matter, his boss isn't that much nicer to him, and is prone to making him, say, bleed from every orifice for any setbacks.
- Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: The police are practically owned by Zorg and do his bidding from a mere phone call. Despite this, they never manage to do anything more than get in the way and die.
- Bad Liar: David the apprentice priest. The man stutters and mishandles the faked Korben Dallas multipass to the point that the airline attendant was starting to think he was suspicious before the real Korben arrived.
- Ballistic Discount: Subverted, where Zorg shows the Mangalores all the fancy special features of the consignment of assault rifles they've ordered, and they walk off with them without completing their side of the bargain (they did destroy the assigned target, the MacGuffin just wasn't actually there). Turns out his insurance policy was to show them all the fancy special features except explaining What That Little Red Button Does — it's a high-explosive self-destruct. Played straight in a more non-traditional fashion when Korben tricks the mugger into disabling his gun, then pulling his own sidearm and stealing the mugger's gun.
- Be Yourself: Zorg encourages Aknot to just stick to his Mangalore face.Zorg: My dear Aknot, what about those two little planes you borrowed? [sees Aknot's human face] Aknot, is that you? What an ugly face. It doesn't suit you. Take it off. [Aknot's face transforms into a Mangalore's] Much better. Never be ashamed of who you are. You're warriors, be proud.
- Benevolent Boss: Aside from a few minor jerkass moments, General Munro seems like a pretty nice guy.
- Big Applesauce: Of all the places to bring a Supreme Being, it's of course New York City, which is apparently the future capital of The Federation (since the president and military command seem to be in residence there).
- Big Eater: Likely a byproduct of the regeneration process, but holy HELL Leeloo was hungry! She polishes off an instant roast chicken, dumps the bones in the trash, and immediately goes back for another.
- Birthmark of Destiny: Leeloo carries the symbols of the four elements as a marking on her wrist most identify as a tattoo.
- Brick Joke:
- When the Mangalores fail to deliver the stones to Zorg, he tricks them into blowing themselves up with the ZF-1's self-destruct function. Guess what happens to Zorg on the ship later? (See Karmic Death below.).
- Zorg disparages the Mangalores afterwards, saying he prefers cold-blooded killers to warriors, because warriors prefer to fight for honor and hopeless causes. The last words by the Mangalores right before Zorg is blown up is that he's doing it for their honor.
- During one of the phone calls with Korben's mother (specifically, to the President because her son saves the Earth), she can be briefly heard alluding to previous scenes:Korben's mother: I might as well throw myself into trafficnote or Saran Wrap myself to the bednote and pretend my child is suffocating me...
- While talking to Finger at the beginning of the film, Korben says that he drives a cab now, not a Space Fighter. Then when they're stealing Zorg's fighter:Rhod: Korben, you know how to fly this?!
Korben: Like driving a cab!
- When the Mangalores fail to deliver the stones to Zorg, he tricks them into blowing themselves up with the ZF-1's self-destruct function. Guess what happens to Zorg on the ship later? (See Karmic Death below.).
- Broken Record: Leeloo practices some of her proper nouns like this.Leeloo: Multipass! Mul-Tee-Pass!
Korben: She knows it's a Multipass!
- Brown Note: Mr. Shadow's voice over a telephone call and in space is able to cause psychic nosebleeds in General Staedert and Zorg.
- Buffy Speak: Ruby Rhod falls into this when the Mangalores strike the cruise ship. What's worse, despite how vague the description is, General Munro knows exactly who he's talking about:Rhod: They're warriors, and they're ugly. They got big teeth, big foreheads, big ears, and they stink.
- Bullethole Door: Ruby Rhod gets an oval floor exit from Korben Dallas and the opportunity to ride the piece down one level.
- The Cameo
- The mugger waiting at Korben's door is none other than Gothika's and La Haine's French filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz.
- The Mangalores' human disguises (and a lot of extras) are played by fashion models who worked with costume designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.
- Fog, the nervous, stammering bellboy, is played by British stand-up comedian/occasional actor Lee Evans.
- The larger of the two cops getting their lunch at McDonald's is played by Mac McDonald, well known (in the UK, at least) for playing Captain Frank Hollister, the ranking officer in charge of Red Dwarf.
- Camera Spoofing: A thief at the beginning of the film does this to Korben's apartment camera by wearing a hat with a picture of the background on it. Thus, by tilting his head at the camera, it looks like everything's clear. Then he pops up and tries to mug Korben. Korben tricks him into turning the gun safety on, takes his gun, then compliments the hat.
- Camp Straight:
- Ruby Rhod and his entourage play every camp stereotype to the hilt, even though they're not gay. Just because Ruby owns a collection of lycra catsuits doesn't mean he isn't a ladies man. As evidenced by his tryst with a flight attendant during the takeoff of the ship to Fhloston Paradise. According to the DVD Commentary, Ruby (originally named "Loc") is a combination of Prince and Lenny Kravitz. Ruby even oddly uses the female pronoun when referring to himself on radio, calling himself Miss Ruby Rhod.
- Also applies to Baby Ray, the deaf "star of stage and screen", who is surrounded by a gaggle of admiring ladies when we first meet him. If anything, it seems like this is the fashion of the future and Korben is an aberration for dressing in a masculine way. It could be a class thing, as they're both wealthy celebrities, and Korben is very much working class. Zorg's outrageous "space Hitler meets Frank-N-Furter" fashion supports this hypothesis.
- Car Cushion: Leeloo jumps from a building and falls into Korben Dallas's taxi.
- The Casanova: Ruby Rhod. His second act in the entire film is seducing a flight attendant during takeoff (where he also mentions that he's had non-human lovers). Then when introducing some dignitaries at the opera, he mentions an emperor's daughter, and plays a recording of her talented singing voice.
- Cassette Futurism: The film has a distinctive aesthetic that looks like a lot of '90s music videos. It's deliberately futuristic looking but also quite campy.
- Casting Gag: The man waiting impatiently at McDonald's is played by Mac McDonald.
- Catapult Nightmare: Our introduction to the hero has Bruce Willis starting awake in his cubicle apartment. Interestingly there's no indication that he had a nightmare, but it's a direct cut from the scene in which General Staedert's vessel has been attacked and presumably destroyed by the Great Evil, implying that he's had some sort of premonition.
- Catching Up on History: When the Supreme Being Leeloo is regenerated From a Single Cell, she catches up on the last 5000 years of human history by speed-reading the encyclopedia. This causes some difficulty when she gets to the entry on War.
- Zorg: "I know."
- Ruby Rhod: "Are we green?" and "BZZZZZZZZ!" (while flapping his hands at someone he wants to leave him alone).
- A Rat Pack catchphrase of old, "badda-boom!" gets a new lease on life, too.
- Chance Activation: David does this with the Air element stone. He sighs at it in frustration, providing the key clue needed to open the three others: they have to use the Four Elements to open the stones — air, earth, water, and fire.
- Chekhov's Gun: If you want an example of how to use this trope well, look no further. Almost everything important in this movie is introduced in a previous scene. A partial list includes Korben's matchbook, Leeloo reading about martial arts, and the Mangalores being able to shapechange.
- Chirping Crickets: It's subtle, but both times Ruby Rhod tries to get Korben Dallas to say something in the mic, during the pregnant pause that follows you can faintly hear crickets chirping.
- Clone Jesus: Leeloo, though she isn't really cloned per se.
- Closet Shuffle: A rather spectacular example involving multiple people and a truly improbable selection of hiding places (including a freezer and a self-making pull-out bed). None of the people Korben hides enjoy their hiding places very much. Leeloo ends up wet and freezing when the shower begins its self-cleaning cycle, the military brass are frozen, and Cornelius nearly suffocates under a plastic sheet when the bed makes itself.
- Clothing Damage: As he retrieves the stones from the diva, Korben is wearing an immaculate tuxedo minus the jacket. Cut to the next scene and his shirt is torn to shreds with no explanation. Ruby Rhod's flamboyant outfit is all torn up with no explanation as well.
- Coitus Uninterruptus: At the end, Korben and Leeloo are making love in the regeneration chamber when the President comes in to congratulate Korben. Dr. MacTilburgh looks through a peephole and says they need five more minutes of "regeneration".
- Colony Drop: The Ultimate Evil takes the form of a moon-sized sphere and hurtles itself towards the Earth. It's implied that the Moon is the remains of a previous close call.
- The Comically Serious: Korben... at least in comparison to Ruby Rhod.
- Concealment Equals Cover: A snooker table somehow provides protection from the Mangalores' More Dakka; although such tables are usually floored by a big slab of slate, it would be unlikely to stop high-powered rifle rounds. The Mangalores are shooting at an angle; it's likely the rounds ricochet off the table instead of it having to stop the rounds entirely.
- Constellations as Locations: The cruise ship is stated to be orbiting the planet Phloston in the "Angel" constellation.
- Contrived Coincidence: Some of it is specifically invoked by characters, but the government fixes a radio contest to give Korben a cover story on Fhloston Paradise during his mission to retrieve the four elemental stones for them. He just happens to be the cab driver who, earlier, had Leeloo (the Fifth Element) drop in on him. He dropped her off with a priest, who later heard he won the contest on the radio and shows up at Korben's apartment while the military is there to recruit him.
- Converging-Stream Weapon: The four stones arranged around "a Fifth Element, a supreme being", direct their energies into Leeloo, who directs the combined energy toward the Ultimate Evil.
- Cosmic Keystone: Leeloo, who acts as the focal point of a superweapon against evil.
- Costume Porn: Literally. Costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier! (At the time, hands down the single most sought-after fashion designer in the world.)
- Crapsack World: New York City is an overcrowded and polluted Police State under Zorg's thumb. It is implied that Zorg's influence may have spread this beyond the city's borders.
- Creator's Culture Carryover: Korben lives in New York, and loses all five points left on his driver's license. In America, points are added for traffic violations, whereas in France, points are removed.
- Cry Laughing: Zorg, after recovering the chest that he thought contains the alien elemental stones, start laughing as he opens it, which quickly turns into crying as it's empty.
- Cute Bruiser: Leeloo is tiny, but she is strong enough to break out of a "bulletproof" glass sarcophagus and knock out a dozen Mangalores in hand-to-hand combat and tough enough to survive crashing through the roof of Dallas's cab.
- Crash-Into Hello: Leeloo literally crashes through the roof of Dallas's car.
- Description Cut: When Zorg explains what the little red button on the ZF-1 does.
- Despair Event Horizon: Leeloo's reading about war.
- "Die Hard" on an X: The space cruise opera sequence, with bonus points for starring Bruce Willis himself. Complete with Air-Vent Passageway escape by Leeloo.
- Disapproving Look: The President is giving these constantly, but it's especially strong when Korben turns a quiet recon mission on the Fhloston Paradise into a bloodbath.
- Dispense with the Pleasantries: When Mr. Shadow makes a beeline for Earth after Zorg is destroyed and the Element stones are secured, the President has to tell Korben the bad news. He tries to soften it by praising his heroics on Fhloston Paradise, but Korben just wants him to get straight to it, so the President glumly gives a weary Korben one more earth-saving job to do.
- Distant Prologue: The film starts in c.1914 when the Mondoshawans take artifacts from an archaeological dig. The story then jumps forward to the far future, where we're introduced to the main characters.
- Don't Celebrate Just Yet: The President pops open a bottle of champagne for his staff when Korben acquires the four stones. Then they get told that the Dark Planet is heading straight for Earth.
- Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Dallas kisses an unconscious Leeloo. He realizes this is a bad idea when in the next moment she's woken up and is pointing his own gun at his head while angrily saying something in an alien language. Fittingly, what she says is translated by the priest as, "Never without my permission."
- Dulcinea Effect: Korben is moved enough by the shaky pleading of the unintelligible redhead that just fell through the roof of his cab to get into a high-speed chase with the police. He's at least smart enough to realize that he's getting into far more trouble than he can really afford, and admits that his rationale essentially boils down to "fuck it, why not?"
- Eldritch Abomination: The Great Evil, a sentient planet-sized ball of fire.
- Element No. 5: We would have just called it The Fifth Element if this movie hadn't beaten us there.
- Establishing Character Moment: Korben barely reacting to a mugger at his apartment door threatening him with an enormous gun, tricking him into turning it off, and then taking his gun from him and putting it in a rack with half-a-dozen others, implying that this happens to him all the time.
- "Eureka!" Moment: After David's Chance Activation of the Air Stone, it takes the others a few minutes to work out that he did so by breathing on it; from there it's a short step to "use each Element to activate its respective Stone."
- Exact Words:
- When Vito offers a differing theory, the President says he has twenty seconds to explain it. Vito then talks for exactly twenty seconds.
- Zorg hires the Mangalores to shoot down a Mondoshawan transport and recover a case from the wreckage. Unfortunately, he forgot to specify that the case was supposed to contain the four elemental stones in it. Despite Zorg's objection, Aknot insists he held up his end of the deal:Aknot: You asked for a case, we brought you a case.
- Excessive Steam Syndrome: The airlock of the Mondoshawans' ship hisses steam and drips condensation when it first opens up at the Egyptian temple.
- Everybody Smokes/Smoking Is Cool: Korben, Ruby Rhod and Zorg all smoke. Subverted in that cigarettes are pretty much reversed from their real world counterparts, being mostly filter and a tiny part being actual tobacco. And Korben, who is automatically dispensed four (and only four) when he wakes up, is trying to quit.
- Evil Cripple: A mild example: Zorg has a slight limp and Cornelius makes mention of it. Every other footstep from him also seems to have something of a metallic sound to it, suggesting that one of his legs may be prosthetic.
- Evil Laugh: Subverted. Zorg gets one, then breaks down in tears, when he finds that the box he stole is empty (again).
- Evil Only Has to Win Once: Mr. Shadow comes back and attacks again every five thousand years. If he wins once, it's all over.
- Evil Overlord List: Zorg practically quotes Number 68 as he lets Cornelius go after Cornelius saves his life.
- Evil Sounds Deep: "Mr. Shadow" appears only as a voice on the telephone, and it's about as deep as you can get and still be comprehensible.
- Extremely Short Timespan: Taking away the opening and closing scenes, most of the movie takes place across two days. And during that the main characters are able to go to another planet and back.
- Faint in Shock: Vito Cornelius, when he meets Leeloo for the first time and realizes who she is.
- Fanservice with a Smile: The female staff of every non-governmental organization shown onscreen. Note the McDonald's drive-thru girls....
- Fantastic Vermin: Spaceport ground crew use flamethrowers to deal with the problem of alien lifeforms hiding in spacecraft landing gear wells.
- Fictionary: Leeloo's alien language.
- The Federation: Referred to as "The Federated Territories," possibly implying that not only local system planets, but entire extra-solar regions are under Terran jurisdiction.
- Flat "What": Zorg gets a couple of these.
- Floating Head Syndrome:
- The poster on this page.
- The DVD cover (and Page Image for the trope) is even worse: the floating heads take up almost the whole cover, and it looks as if the cars are frantically running away from them.
- Flying Cars: Haven't improved New York's traffic problems any, and most people still stay in 2D lanes like they're on the ground.
- Food Pills: Leeloo pours a small amount of food pellets into a bowl, puts the bowl in a microwave-like device, closes the door, presses a button, and opens the door again, pulling out an entire roast chicken with all the trimmings. Forget faster-than-light travel; that is clearly the pinnacle of human achievement.
- Foreshadowing: When Korben meets Leeloo in the spaceport, he tells the ticket agent that they met, sparks flew, and they fell in love. At the climax of the movie, he lights a match and admits he's in love with Leeloo.
- For Science!: Professor MacTilburgh sure does love the prospect of regrowing the supreme being in his lab.Munro: Sounds like a freak of nature to me.
MacTilburgh: Yeah. Can't wait to meet 'im!
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Korben receives his letter telling him he's fired, you see the company he's been working for is Zorg's, in a nod to the scene in which Zorg fires a million employees to slow the economy down, "from smaller companies, like the taxi drivers'."
- From a Single Cell: This happens to Leeloo in the beginning. All that's left of her is her armored hand.
- Funny Background Event: When Korben confiscates a weapon from a would-be mugger at his apartment door, a cache of other weapons descends from the ceiling, suggesting this happens to him all the time.
- Fun Personified: Ruby Rhod, though he does grate on Korben.
- Future Music: The techno-rock-opera fusion performed by the Diva.
- Futuristic Superhighway: New York City of the 23rd Century has designated "lanes" for Flying Cars stacked on top of each other throughout the city.
- Gambit Pileup:
- The Federation and Priest Vito Cornelius and Leeloo are trying to get the Stones from the Diva on Fhloston Paradise. The Federation rigs a contest to get Korben Dallas to the hotel. As they're briefing him on this, Vito and Leeloo arrive to try and take Korben's tickets. Korben hides the military folks from Vito and Leeloo, then has to hide Vito and Leeloo from the cops, since Zorg's man has called in a tip to get Korben Dallas arrested so he can take Korben's place and go to Fhloston to get the Stones. Fortunately, Vito had moved Korben's nameplate to a different door, so that guy gets arrested instead. Then the Mangalores ambush the police, capture "Korben Dallas" and plan to have one of them shapeshift into him and get to Fhloston to get the Stones to get revenge on Zorg. This pileup isn't fully resolved until Korben's plane to Fhloston is in the air.
- Then there's the pileup onboard the Fhloston Paradise. Korben and Leeloo wait for after the Diva's performance to get the stones. The Mangalores, having already infiltrated the ship, raid the Diva's suite looking for the stones. They're met by Leeloo, who kicks their asses. This prompts Aknot to initiate a takeover of the ship. During this, Zorg comes on board, finds Leeloo holding what he thinks are the stones, shoots at her, and leaves, planting a bomb as he departs, only to find the case didn't have the stones. Korben recovers the stones from the Diva herself, then fights and defeats the Mangalores. At that point, he finds Zorg's bomb, prompting an evacuation of the cruise ship. Zorg returns to deactivate his bomb and find the stones for real this time, but is then killed by another planted by a surviving Mangalore.
- Gangsta Style: Korben points his gun at the amateur mugger sideways, increasing his badassitude and intimidating the mugger even further.
- General Ripper: General Staedert, whose recommendation about the Dark Planet before they even know what it is is to blow it up. "My philosophy, Mr. President, is to shoot first and ask questions later. I don't like uninvited guests." Even when President Lindberg expresses some concerns and tries to rein him in, he comes dangerously close to disobeying his superior and fires anyway.Lindberg: Staedert?
Staedert: Yes sir?
Lindberg: I have a doubt.
Staedert: [flatly] I don't, Mr. President.
- Genre Throwback: The movie's script was intended to be basically a Troperiffic Reconstruction of all the Sci Fi Franco-Belgian Comics of The '70s and The '80s that the writer was a fan of.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In-Universe, Ruby Rhod has a group of Japanese schoolgirls waiting for autographs aboard the flight to Fhloston Paradise.
- Gilligan Cut:President: Is that your idea of a discreet operation?
General Munro: Don't-don't worry, sir. I know my man, he'll calm things down...
[cut to three Mangalores going down under a hail of bullets and Korben charging out of a door with guns blazing]
- Glass Cannon: As described by the Diva, Leeloo is more fragile than she seems; she can fight, but she can be hurt, and her heart is even more vulnerable than her body.
- A Glass in the Hand: Korben is standing with both hands on a light fixture when Munro cheerfully reveals he rigged a contest in preparation for the mission Korben is refusing. Said light fixture is promptly torn off the wall.
- Going by the Matchbook: Surprisingly, searching for and not finding matches is a repeated in-joke.
- Good Needs Evil: Zorg's perfect example of the Broken Window Fallacy:Zorg: Life, which you so nobly serve, comes from destruction, disorder and chaos. Now take this empty glass. Here it is: peaceful, serene, boring. But if it is destroyed... [pushes the glass off the table; it shatters on the floor, and several small machines come out to clean it up] ... Look at all these little things! So busy now! Notice how each one is useful. A lovely ballet ensues, so full of form and color. Now, think about all those people that created them. Technicians, engineers, hundreds of people, who will be able to feed their children tonight, so those children can grow up big and strong and have little teeny children of their own, and so on and so forth. Thus, adding to the great chain of life. You see, father, by causing a little destruction, I am in fact encouraging life. In reality, you and I are in the same business.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: The Funny Foreigner noodle chef's interjection of "Aiya!" when Korben tells him about the time his wife left him (for his lawyer, hence him getting hosed in the divorce) is an authentic Chinese exclamation that translates roughly as "Oh heavens!"
- Ham and Deadpan Duo: Korben Dallas, the serious Action Hero, is the Deadpan, and Ruby Rhod, the Camp Straight Jive Turkey Non-Action Guy is the Ham.
- Hard Head: Vito Cornelius steals the tickets Korben won for Fhloston Paradise by conking him on the head with one of his trophies. Leeloo chews him out the entire way as they escape.
- Hard-to-Light Fire: Saving billions of lives comes down, in part, to whether or not one match will be blown out before it can open the Fire stone.
- Harmless Freezing: General Munro and two of his men are stuffed in the freezer by Korben Dallas to get them out of the way when Leeloo reappears at his door. He frees them after a couple of minutes; they're already frozen solid, but later on the General seems to be OK again.note
- Heroic BSoD: Leeloo descends into despair as she sees humans' inhumanity to their fellow humans, almost losing it completely when Diva is killed, and then decides to read up on the "WAR" section of the encyclopedia. This becomes an important plot point almost immediately afterward, as she initially refuses to save the Earth if war and violence are all it has to offer.
- Much of the futuristic New York and the character of Korben Dallas pay homage to the "Harry Canyon" story from Heavy Metal. To the point Luc Besson hired Métal Hurlant artists as designers.
- Korben's character also heavily evokes other Bruce Willis action films (see "Die Hard" on an X above).
- The French comic series Valérian by Jean-Claude Mézières and Pierre Christin features a near-identical flying taxi in the album Circles of Power, though with driver whose personality has little in common with Korben's. Much of the costume inspirations also comes from this comic. Mézières was one of the film's Production Designers. (The other was Jean Giraud, a.k.a. Mœbius). Luc Besson would later create a more direct adaptation in 2017.
- Honor Before Reason: The Mangalores may have their own skewed concept of what is and isn't honorable, but they otherwise abide by this trope in spades, allowing Korben to fake surrender after he's killed a number of their men.
- Hostage Situation: Onboard the Fhloston Paradise, the Mangalores intend to use the ship's crew as bargaining chips before Korben strides in and takes out their leader.
- Hot Pursuit: How many police cars does it take to stop one taxi?Korben: If they don't chase you after a mile, they don't chase you. [back shot of Korban's taxi, with 4 advancing cops in a diamond configuration] Maybe it's two miles.
- I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin:
- The Mondoshawan, twice: once with the key to the temple, and once with Leeloo herself.
- The four element stones are held by Diva Plavalaguna (inside her body!) who hands them over to Dallas as she is dying.
- Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Pretty much everything Ruby Rhod wears, plus plenty of others' clothes as well.
- Incoming Ham: Ruby Rhod's introduction.Ruby: KORBEEEEEEEEN DALLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS!
- Incredibly Obvious Bug: Literally: the bad guy uses a cockroach fitted with an antenna to spy on the president. Of course, there's a downside to this: the President squashes the bug (and the microphone) when it climbs onto the desk. Goodbye, eardrums!note Bonus points for trying to maneuver a fully grown cockroach right through a bustling and absolutely pristine room without anyone noticing. The chances for the roach to make it through alive were basically zilch even without the listening equipment grafted to its back.
- Informed Attractiveness: The only way you could believe that Chris Tucker dressing like RuPaul is one of the sexiest media personalities in the universe is to have one or more of the female extras explicitly tell you they find him sexy, though that's really the point; we're clearly meant to share the viewpoint of Korben, who only finds Ruby silly and annoying.
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: Leeloo, who at first doesn't bother to hide her nudity when changing clothes.David: They certainly made her...
Vito: Perfect. Yes, I know.
- Instant Expert: Leeloo learns English in the space of about a day, by speed-reading the 23rd century equivalent of the Encyclopedia Britannica. In the novelization, she learns all the languages of humanity. Justified by the fact that her DNA contains 200,000 memo strands, which probably explains her inordinately fast learning time for everything, not just languages.
- Instantly Proven Wrong:
- Korben, fleeing from the cops after Leeloo has crash-landed into his taxi, breathes a sigh of relief and notes that "if they don't chase you after a mile, they don't chase you." Immediately, four cop cars rise up behind him. "Maybe it's two miles."
- Upon boarding on the spaceship to Fhloston Paradise, Korben insists to the stewardess that he'd rather travel incognito for his vacation. That's the exact moment chosen by Ruby Rhod to make a Big Entrance, calling his name out loud. Ruby Rhod, who has 50 billion "listening pairs of ears" following his radio show.
- After getting to the room where Leeloo got wounded in her fight with Zorg, Cornelius and Ruby notice the countdown clock on the door that was left behind.Cornelius: It's a — it's a — it's a — it's a — it's a — it's a...
Ruby Rhod: No no no no no no. 'Cuz if it was a bomb, the alarms would go off 'cuz all these hotels have bomb detectors, right?
[the alarms go off]
- Interscene Diegetic: The Diva's aria is heard continuously over shots of her singing and of a fight scene happening elsewhere at the same time.
- In the Future, We Still Have Roombas: The cleaning robots that instantly jump into action in Zorg's office.
- Ironic Echo:
- As Right-Arm calls Zorg to tell he couldn't prevent Korben from embarking, he replies "I am... a little... disappointed." (the conversation ends with Zorg triggering Right-Arm's public phone to explode). Later, after Zorg finds out the box with the rocks is empty, he returns screaming "I. AM. VERY. DISAPPOINTED!!"
- When Zorg is preparing to show off the ZF-1 to Aknot, he mentions that "your time for revenge is at hand!" When Aknot survives the ZF-1 explosion and makes the plan to steal the stones to force Zorg to "negotiate," he quips that "revenge is truly at hand."
- Irony: Zorg's first attempt to get the stones is thwarted by Atnok and his men bringing him the empty case that had held the stones, since he asked for a case; Zorg blasts them for their stupidity. Later in the film Zorg steals what he believes to be a box holding the stones, but he makes the exact same mistake as Atnok and doesn't check to see that they're actually in there.
- It Can Think: Mr. Shadow's responses to the fleet support Cornelius's arguments about its nature.Staedert: Upfront loading of a 120 ZZR missile. Marker lights on the objective.
Scientist: Its structure has just solidified on the surface.
Head Scientist: I think it's anticipating the attack. Anticipation denotes intelligence.
Cornelius: The most terrible intelligence imaginable, Mr. President.
- Jerkass Has a Point: While Zorg doesn't care one bit about life beyond what profit it can bring him, he's not wrong when he tells Father Vito that destruction encourages life. Of course, his argument is only right prima facie. A little digging into Zorg's intent and actions before and after absolutely disprove his argument.
- Jewish Mother: Korben Dallas's overbearing mother seems to be one.
- Karmic Death:
- Zorg, who is bombed when one of his own mercenaries sets one off, mere seconds after he disables the one he himself had set earlier. Further emphasized by the fact that earlier in the movie Zorg mocked the Mangalore's moral code of dying for honor, only to become a victim of one of their "honorable" deaths.
- Mr. Shadow, who is killed by The Power of Love (Word of God here.)
- Kavorka Man: Despite dressing and behaving in a fashion that evokes Camp Gay, the ladies love Ruby Rhod, and he loves them right back.
- Keystone Army: The Mangalores, though "army" is stretching things — more like a keystone platoon.Korben: We need to find the leader. Mangalores won't fight without the leader.
- Kick Chick: Leeloo during the fight scene with the Mangalores. One high kick to a Mangalore's chin was actually done with a prop leg because Mila Jovovich couldn't bend her leg that far.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Korben Dallas; our first sign that he's the hero is that he sweet-talks to his cat. He even gets needled that he prefers his cat to women.
- Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: There's nary a personal-scale Energy Weapon in sight, just kickass ballistic weapons.
- Knight in Sour Armor: A minor trope; Korben would rather not be saving the world, but living a nice peaceful life driving his cab instead.
- Kubrick Stare: Leeloo gives one to General Munro, before she punches through the unbreakable glass, knocks him out while snatching away his card and finally escapes the lab.
- Large Ham:
- Zorg, since Evil Is Hammy (as he presents the ZF-1, Gary Oldman even winks at the camera).
- Ruby Rhod, which takes a nod further by cross dressing.
- Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb: Leeloo acts very naïve and flighty at times, but when it's time for business, just pray you're on her side and not her enemy.
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to another humorous action films Die Hard (which also starred Bruce Willis) and Demolition Man, which both were R-rated, this one is rated PG-13.
- Little Green Man in a Can: The Mondoshawan are only seen in shells that have really big waddling rears with tiny dog-like heads that give them a very odd Humpty Dumpty appearance. The clunkiness is reminiscent of practical space suits and the shell preserves a sense of mystery about their true form-maybe they're giant eggs, maybe they are octopuses piloting a walking tank.
- Little "No": When the Mangalores' bomb starts counting down right after Zorg disabled his own:Zorg: [blankly] Oh, no.
- The Load: Ruby. Justified: He's a talk show host, not a commando like Korben.
- Long List: General Munro's list of all the weapons and vehicles Korben is qualified to use is the page image.
- Loser Buys Lunch: By the start of the film, so much bad news has fallen into Dallas's mailbox that he has lost interest in looking at anything new. Mr. Kim, however, is determined to be optimistic.Kim: Ah, that's bad luck. Grandfather say it not rain everyday. This is good news, guaranteed. I bet your lunch.
Korben: Okay, you're on.
Kim: Come on...
Kim: You are fired! Oh...
Korben: Well, at least I won lunch.
Kim: Good philosophy. See good in bad. I like!
- Made of Evil: Mr. Shadow, the living planet that represents evil.
- Magical Girlfriend: Leeloo, natch.
- Magic Countdown: Subverted when Zorg stops the bomb with 5 seconds to spare, and then the Not Quite Dead Mangalore sets off his own bomb with a 5 second countdown.Mangalore: For the honor...
- Mandatory Unretirement: Note: Never join the military in the Future.
- Match Cut: Twice.
- The first cuts from the hieroglyphics in the temple to an instrument display on the Federation battleship, featuring the same three-planet readout.
- The second dissolves from Zorg's office, with his window becoming the Dark Planet.
- Mayfly–December Romance: Leeloo and Korben. Hard to tell for sure though, it's possibly subverted. They never say if Leeloo is immortal or was just kept in stasis.
- Meaningful Name:Employed ironically with Zorg, whose personal names — "Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel", (French for John the Baptist and Romanized Hebrew for "God with us") — are incredibly ill-suited for a Corrupt Corporate Executive who's trying to end the world for his own selfish reasons.
- Mechanistic Alien Culture: The Mondoshawan. Are they beings wearing powered suits of armor, or are they Mechanical Lifeforms? It's pretty ambiguous. Then again, some of the dialog during Leeloo's reconstruction scene implies that the Mondoshawan have DNA.
- Mega-Corp: Zorg is the CEO of an eponymous one, which employs so many people that he can apparently slow the economy down at will by laying off a million workers at once.
- Mickey Mousing: The scene where the Diva is singing an opera while Leeloo is kicking some ass against aliens. Leelo's moves, and the action in general, are timed to the music.
- Missed Him by That Much: Zorg and Korben's group miss each other by a literal second when the former is trying to retrieve the stones and the latter are trying to escape the soon to be destroyed hotel. Bonus points for this actually being the moment where Korben and Zorg, the main protagonist and the main antagonist, are closest to each other in the entire movie.
- Mistaken for Gay: When some of Zorg's Mooks come to kidnap Cornelius, he momentarily thinks they've come to get married by him.
- Mobile Kiosk: An amusing flying Chinese restaurant/boat.
- Mocking Music: A comedic sting of sorts recurs through the film, first appearing during the "little red button" scene.
- Mood Whiplash: All in the space of a single opera song, we go from aching melancholy, to a fight scene overlaid with much more intense music... and then suddenly Leeloo is in mortal danger, the Diva gets shot and all Hell breaks loose.
- More Dakka: The ZF-1. Which has a minigun, a flamethrower, rockets and liquid nitrogen.
- Motor Mouth: Ruby Rhod. And Leeloo when she's initially heard speaking her native language, especially her full name.
- Murder by Inaction: Subverted. Immediately after Zorg gives Cornelius a diatribe about survival of the fittest and the necessity of destruction, he starts choking on a fruit. Cornelius takes some time to point out the irony, but ultimately hits him in the back to save him.
- My Beloved Smother: Korben's mother.
- Mysterious Waif: Leeloo again, of course. She basically has the market cornered on all anima-related tropes.
- Naked on Arrival: Add one more trope for Leeloo, though to be fair, they did build her from a severed hand.
- Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom: Leeloo's full name, according to Luc Besson's published dictionary for the "divine language", translates as "Precious Stone of the Earth, Defender of Light and Life, the Honorable".
- Neck Lift: At the end of their first time meeting, Korben lifts Ruby Rhod by the neck and press him against a wall to make him shut up.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The teaser trailers seems that will be a science-fiction horror mystery thriller film in vein of The Thing (1982) and of course Event Horizon, or some kind of serious modern alien invasion film in vein of Independence Day. When the film was released, the film turns out to be nothing but another humorous action flick in similar way to films Die Hard (which Bruce Willis also starred in) and of course Demolition Man, but with a bit of violence toned-down.
- Nipple and Dimed: Leeloo's are clearly visible from the side for about a second after she's been rebuilt, right before the doctor has "thermal bandages" put on her.
- Non-Dubbed Grunts: The French dubbing of the movie still uses Chris Tucker's voice for Ruby Rhod's shrill screams. The French voice actor, Tom Novembre, just cannot go that high.
- Nothing Can Save Us Now: "We're never gonna make it." Cue a clever action that does lead to them being saved.
- Nothing Can Stop Us Now!: Munro is assured that Leeloo's containment vessel is unbreakable. Thirty seconds later, she breaks through the glass with her bare hands, no less!note
- Not With the Safety On, You Won't: Dallas helpfully tells someone trying to rob him that the gun isn't loaded, and even gives him time to push what he claims is the "loading" button, turning the safety on.
- Offhand Backhand: Done by Leeloo during the brawl with a Mangalore strike force. She's about to give the final punch to one while another is sneaking behind her, and ends up hitting both.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Zorg has one of these in the form of a Little "No" when he realizes that the Proud Warrior Race brought their own cruise ship-destroying bomb along. Just as he disarms his own.
- Also, the scene where General Staedert realizes the hostile planetoid is eating up the most powerful weapons in his disposal and actually growing bigger as a result.Staedert: [worried] ... What do we have that's bigger than 240?
Captain: ...nothing, sir.
- Zorg has this reaction just from being told "Mr. Shadow" is calling him.
- When Korben shoots the Mangalore leader, one of the mooks throws his hand up into a near-Facepalm, knowing they're screwed.
- The ticket-taker for the commuter space flight to Fhloston gets a visual one as well, when the security scan at her window reveals the two people trying to claim Korben's tickets are Mangalores.
- One Nation Under Copyright: There's a legitimately elected government that has power, but it's also implied that Zorg's business empire pretty much runs everything and employs almost everyone. Early in the movie an underling informs Zorg that "the Council" has asked him to fire 500,000 employees to slow down the economy. Zorg fires 1 million employees instead (incidentally including Korben), For the Evulz.
- One Riot, One Ranger: Korben Dallas is sent to retrieve the elemental stones, rather than, say, intercepting the Diva with the Navy and avoiding the whole public-place hand-off thing. The movie Handwaves this with the President saying he wants the operation to be as discreet as possible. Not that it works out that way...
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Again, Leeloo.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The one time Leeloo doesn't speak in You No Take Candle, it's fairly arresting:Leeloo: What's the use of saving life when you see what you do with it? ...I don't know love. I was built to protect, not to love, so there's no other use for me.
- Orchestra Hit Techno Battle: A fight between Leeloo and the Mangalores choreographed to the techno portion of the Diva's aria.
- Outrun the Fireball: Korben in the ship as the Mangalore bomb blows up the ship above Fhloston.
- Overly Long Name: Leeloominaï Lekatariba Lamina-Tchaï Ekbat De Sebat; she goes by "Leeloo Dallas" (Multipass) a few scenes later. "Ekbat De Sebat" is actually her title; the rest of it translates as a description of what she was created to do.
- Overly Long Scream: Ruby Rhod is prone to these when things get hectic. The biggest explosion in the film is accompanied by one. He even stops halfway through to draw some ragged breaths before going right back to screaming his lungs out.
- Phlebotinum Girl: Leeloo. She's the ultimate being, created for the sole purpose of unlocking the full power of the stones to bring the Light of Creation to give life where there is none, and to combat evil. Even her DNA is like a human, but far more complex and clearly engineered.
- Pillar of Light: At the film's climax, once the five elements are activated, a pillar of light fires through Leeloo's mouth, stopping the Great Evil and turning it into a moon.
- Plank Gag: Ruby Rhod accidentally knocks out a flight attendant behind him by swirling around his mic-cane.
- Please Put Some Clothes On: Twice it happens with Leeloo, with the men whipping around and obscuring her body from the camera both times.
- Police State: The Federated Territories, or at the very least New York, are like this. "This is not an exercise. This is a police control." You have to live with that in your own home, to say nothing of the spaceport. The police are extremely well-armed and can put hundreds of holes in your vehicle just based on suspicion of you being a car thief. On the other hand, pretty much anyone is permitted to purchase and own at least a dozen fully-automatic weapons. Or at least such things are permitted for washed-up ex-soldiers who are now extremely reckless cab drivers. And extremely dumb muggers.
- Poor Communication Kills:
- Or almost does, anyway. When Leeloo escapes, the police seem to arbitrarily take over and no-one informs them of who or what Leeloo is. They even lose sight of this halfway through and just start shooting at the car she's in because they've deemed the occupant a car thief. "We made this chick in a lab, she's kinda important, retrieve her alive and unharmed" would have been a simple enough order to give.
- The government, Dallas, and the Priesthood are all on exactly the same side with the same honorable goal of saving the world for the same reason — but spend half the movie working against each other for the sake of Rule of Drama and Rule of Funny.
- One would assume that this weapon and evil etc. would have been explained to the government of Earth once it reached an interstellar technological level and became aware of the existence of the Mondoshawan race (assumed because when asking for entry into our space, they are permitted in without a single "who/what?"), and not when it is imminent.
- Post-Historical Trauma: Leeloo's breakdown towards the end, once reading about the dreaded W for War in the encyclopedia.
- The Power of Love: The fifth element only ignites when Korben declares his love for Leeloo and kisses her. Luc Besson tried to claim it's actually sex.
- Prefers the True Form: Zorg meets a group of Mangalores disguised as humans and insists to see their real faces.Zorg: Is that you? What an ugly face! It doesn't suit you. Take it off. (The Mangalores shed their human forms, revealed as brutish creatures) That's better. Never be ashamed of who you are. You're warriors. Be proud!
- Primordial Tongue: The "Divine Language" that Leeloo speaks is apparently universal enough that she can learn English just from a few hours of exposure.
- Product Placement: McDonald's. Could that sign be any bigger? Maybe if the camera crashed into... oh, nevermind.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Ruby Rhod's entourage.
- Proud Warrior Race: The Mangalores try to be this, but are hampered by being dumb as rocks. In practice, they're Lawful Stupid thugs who refuse to shoot an unarmed Korben immediately after he gunned down several of their men.
- Psychic Nosebleed: Happens twice — first to General Staedart, the commander of a battleship before Mr. Shadow destroys it, and then to Zorg when Mr. Shadow calls him on the phone. Oddly, the bleeding always starts somewhere at or above the hairline, raising the question as to just where exactly they are bleeding from. Rather than blood it appears to be some kind of black ichor; Zorg wipes his forehead after the phonecall, and the fluid is thick and oily in appearance.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
- Zorg's quite fond of this when he's mad:Zorg: I! AM! VERY! DISAPPOINTED!
- Mr. Shadow also gets a fairly chilling one during his phone conversation with Zorg, complete with stigmata.Mr. Shadow: I. Want. The. Stones.
- Zorg's quite fond of this when he's mad:
- Punny Name: The big beefy female soldier with the Leia buns is called "Major Iceborg". Real subtle there, guys.
- Pushy Gun-Toting Villain: Attempted, but very quickly subverted for laughs: A thief attempts to rob Korben Dallas at gunpoint when he tricks him into opening his apartment's front door. However, the thief seems too nervous or high to think straight...[Korben opens the front door after noticing the hallway is empty]
[the viewpoint turns out to be a photo of the hallway attached to the thief's hat]
Thief: [visibly shaking, points an enormous rifle at Dallas] HA! uuuurgh... gimme the caaash...
Korben: [visibly confused] Been here long?
Korben: Is that a Z-140?... Deviated Titanium... No-charge assault model...
Thief: YEAH?! YEAH?!
Korben: Good thing for me it's not loaded.
Thief: [nervously laughs] wh-...what do you mean, it's not loaded?
Korben: Well, you have to... you have to push that little yellow button to load it...
[the thief continues nervously shaking, and he nervously laughs]
Korben: Take your time...
Thief: [slowly reaches for the button] [snorts] oh God!
Korben: [tries to help him] You want me to...?
Thief: MMM! AH! [He straightens his aim at Dallas]
[the thief slowly presses the button himself]
Korben: There you go!
Thief: GAH! GIMMETHECASHHHH!!!!! [he attempts to fire, only for the weapon to power down]
[Korben pulls out his own pistol]
- Race Against the Clock: They have 48 hours before the Big Bad "becomes acclimated" and is able to attack.
- Readings Are Off the Scale: Leeloo's DNA has over 200,000 "memo strands," as opposed to a normal human's 40. Early in the movie, a probe is reported to malfunction and read minus five thousand degrees, which brings up the point of how that is measured (since it would be far below absolute zero).
- Reality Is Unrealistic: The Diva's song was designed to be literally impossible for a human to sing, with notes and sudden pitch-shifts far outside the human vocal range...until someone pulled it off.
- Really 700 Years Old: Granted Leeloo's current body looks to be in its mid 20's or so. But her spirit has been around a long time if she's fighting evil every 5,000 years.
- Really Was Born Yesterday: Leeloo is literally Born Yesterday as a fully developed adult woman but has the behaviour, intelligence and attitudes of a young child.
- Retired Badass: Korben, up until he's unretired.
- Roboteching: The ZF-1 does this with bullets. The ZF-1's Replay function was so iconic it inspired several guns in later works, like the Bullseye Rifle in Resistance.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Both played straight with Plava Laguna and averted with the Mondoshawans. The Mangalores subvert it, in that they appear to be inspired by Star Trek-type humanoid aliens but have high-tech anamatronic complete facial prosthetics that make them seem very authentic.
- Rule of Fun: The movie is an intentionally over-the-top, off-the-wall pop epic, cheerfully embracing every sci-fi staple it can get its hands on and running with it, which is why things such as the passage of time fall into the "don't think about it too much" category. It makes a lot more sense when you realize that the script was literally written by Luc Besson when he was twelve years old, with exactly the priorities in mind which that would imply.
- Samus Is a Girl: The professor in the prologue refers to "this man, this perfect being..." Professor MacTilburgh assumes likewise before reconstructing Leeloo, only to be find out that she's... "I told you, perfect." Vito Cornelius is also surprised to find out the supreme being is female:Cornelius: He... [pause for stare] He's a she.
- Schizo Tech: As this site points out, the technology level in this movie is all over the place. On the one hand, space travel is common and inexpensive, to the extent that contact with aliens is an everyday occurrence, all our cars are flight-capable, and even presumably cheap apartments like Korben's have instant food microwaves. On the other hand, Korben still gets his mail in paper letters rather than email, airports still depend on manual labor for sanitation, we still use matches to light a fire, and perhaps most humorously implausible of all, Ruby Rhod is the super-popular megastar celebrity host... of a radio show. That has instantaneous galactic coverage.
- Schmuck Bait:
- The little red button on the ZF-1 is a powerful self-destruct, as a hapless Mangalore discovers through What Does This Button Do?. Lampshaded.Zorg: Now a real killer, when he picked up the ZF-1, would've immediately asked about the little red button on the bottom of the gun.
- Cue a confused Mangalore thumbing the button and a column of flame erupting from the hallway behind Zorg.
- Korben tells a not-very-smart mugger that his weapon won't fire unless he presses the yellow button. Cue weapon powering down and the mugger getting a pistol in his face.
- The little red button on the ZF-1 is a powerful self-destruct, as a hapless Mangalore discovers through What Does This Button Do?. Lampshaded.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: If a planetary body the size of "Mr. Shadow" got as close to Earth as it does in the film, it would have caused catastrophic damage to the planet just through its gravity and the resulting tidal forces without even needing to impact the surface (remember, even as weak as its gravity is and as far as it is from Earth, the moon causes quite a bit of distortion to Earth's surface). And that's ignoring the fact that at the distance stated, the remains of Shadow would have actually already been partially inside Earth's atmosphere! Unless they took efforts to get rid of it, it would absolutely have hit Earth anyway, just a lot slower than it had been going at first.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
- As the Dark Planet approaches the battleship at the beginning, while General Staedert, his captain, and the technicians are just staring at it, you can see some officers heading for the exit.
- Ruby Rhod at the end of the film.David: Yeah!!!
Ruby: Ahhh! What's wrong with you?! Whatya screaming for? Every five minutes, there's a bomb or something! I'm leaving. Bzzzzzz!
- Sealed Good in a Can: New and Improved, it's Sealed Good in a Rock! Also qualifies for Sealed Badass in a Can — Leeloo takes down a squad of Mangalores singlehandedly.
- Self-Plagiarism: Alejandro Jodorowsky and Mœbius sued Luc Besson claiming that the movie plagiarized their comic, The Incal. The case was thrown out due to Moebius having worked on the movie as a concept artist.
- Sexy Backless Outfit: In an odd male example, one of Korben's T-shirts has a cut-out at the back.
- Shaped Like Itself: "Sleep regulators, which will regulate your sleep."
- Shoot the Hostage Taker: After Korben takes out a few of his men, the lead Mangalore holds Cornelius hostage and threatens "One more shot, we start killing hostages! Send someone in to negotiate!" Korben's method of "negotiating" is to calmly walk in, Boom, Headshot! the leader, then ask "Anyone else want to negotiate?" while waving his gun around at the rest.
- Korben Dallas' unusual first name has to be a reference to Heavy Metal artist Richard Corben, given the many other references to European science-fiction comic books found in the film.
- There are several to Star Wars: the ships of Earth's military fleet look like bloated Star Destroyers, Major Iceborg (who was meant to pose as Korben's wife) has Princess Leia's A New Hope hairstyle only cranked up to eleven, Vito Cornelius appears shortly after sporting a brown cape like Ben Kenobi, and at the temple in Egypt Ruby Rhod holds a neon light stick tightly like a Jedi Knight holding a lightsaber.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Priest Vito Cornelius delivers an absolutely brilliant one to the choking Zorg after his villainous speech (see Good Needs Evil), by pointing out that his grand empire will come tumbling down all because of one... little... cherry. Vito smacks him on the back, of course. The look on Vito's face as he Saves The Villain says it quite plainly: Being Good Sucks.
- Sighted Guns Are Low-Tech: Justified with the ZF-1, which has homing bullets.
- Skyscraper City: Manhattan is so high it seems bottomless. We barely get to see its ground, except when Korben escapes the police. In one shot of the spaceport we see why: the Hudson and East rivers have been completely drained◊, leaving Liberty Island (et al) high and dry.
- Smart Gun: The ZF-1 is packed with features, including "Replay", which sends every bullet to the designated target no matter which direction the gun is actually pointing.
- Soldier vs. Warrior: Zorg expresses his disdain for the Mangalores and their brutish unrefined warrior code. He expresses his love for a true killer; unfortunately that happens to be exactly what Korben Dallas is.Zorg: I don't like warriors. Too narrow-minded, no subtlety. And worse, they fight for hopeless causes. Honor? Ha! Honor's killed millions of people, it hasn't saved a single one. I'll tell you what I do like though: a killer, a dyed-in-the-wool killer. Cold-blooded, clean, methodical and thorough. Now a real killer, when he picked up the ZF-1, would've immediately asked about the little red button on the bottom of the gun.
- Space Clothes: The film has a plethora of clothing made out of plastic and rubber.
- Space Fighter: Fighters make a brief appearance, shooting down the friendly alien ship carrying the MacGuffin Super-Person protagonist. Korben's first conversation with Finger implies that flying space fighters was among his duties in the army.
- Space Orcs: Mangalores are ugly, brutish spacefaring mercenaries with a generically warlike culture, hired by the Big Bad to attack the Big Good, steal the MacGuffin, and generally cause havoc.
- Space Sailing: All we see of Fhloston Paradise is an enormous flying luxury liner, which hugs the planet's surface during the day to drop off passengers at beaches, and ascends to the upper atmosphere at night to facilitate better views.
- Stealth Pun: The cop at the McDonald's Drive-Thru is played by Mac McDonald.
- Stolen MacGuffin Reveal: Twice Zorg discovers the box that was supposed to have the stones is empty, in the first cutting to Leeloo explaining where they went, and in the latter to Diva revealing to Korben that they're in her body.
- Leeloo's "thermal bandages" cover just enough of her body to keep the film at PG-13.
- The uniforms worn by the stewardesses, and McDonald's waitresses.
- Zorg's male guards get in on the act, with tiny biker shorts.
- The woman a Mangalore disguises as in the airport. She is wearing a see-through plastic skirt, over fishnet hose and a thong. In public. She fits right in.
- Stupid Crooks: Aside from wearing a picture of Korben's hallway on his head, the mugger who holds Korben up has no idea what he's doing, and Korben easily and peacefully disarms him and stores the gun among many other previously appropriated weapons, even amusedly complimenting him on his "hat".
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Following the blunders of his own staff and the mercenaries he hired. Zorgs's attempts to take matters into his own hands fall foul to the same incompetence that his underlings had. Going by himself, he fails to check the case for the stones and is eventually blown up when his attempts coincide with the Mangalore's attack on the cruise ship.
- Summer Blockbuster: Whatever else the film has to offer, it was very successful as an exercise in spectacle and light entertainment.
- Swiss-Army Weapon: The ZF-1 is every gun imaginable combined into one big thing.
- Tap on the Head: Cornelius gets the tickets to Flhoston Paradise by cracking Korben on the back of the head with one of his military trophies. When Korben gets back to his feet, he looks more pissed off than anything. Then again, he was only down for a few seconds, so it's possible he wasn't unconscious, only stunned.
- Technology Porn: Leeloo's reconstruction. Could also be considered a pun.
- Tempting Fate:
- Korben, as he's funneled into the VIP lounge to appear on Ruby Rhod's radio show.Korben: [to flight attendant fangirl] Yes, I'm sure you're very excited, but I'm on my vacation, and I don't want to be bothered. I'd like to remain anonymous.
[cue massive fanfare, followed by Ruby Rhod sliding into the scene wearing a mic/headset]
Ruby Rhod: KORBEN DALLAAAAAAAAAAAAS!!! Here he is, the one and only winner of the Gemini Croquette contest!
- Later, when Cornelius and Ruby Rhod find the bomb left by Zorg...Cornelius: It's a — it's a — it's a — it's a — it's a — it's a...
Ruby Rhod: No no no no no no. 'Cuz if it was a bomb, the alarms would go off 'cuz all these hotels have bomb detectors, right?
[the alarms go off]
- On the other hand, in his opening scene Korben wishes for one perfect woman. He gets her.
- General Munro is told the glass Leeloo is behind is unbreakable. She punches her hand through it and slam-dunks him.
- "We got lucky. If they don't chase you after a mile, they don't chase you." Cue three police flyers in New York on Korben's tail. "I think we're safe for a while." Cue half a dozen cop flyers waiting in ambush with More Dakka.
- After General Staedert fires at the evil sphere, the President asks, "Did you destroy it?" to which Staedert replies "I'm about to, sir." Actually, it's the other way around.
- Korben, as he's funneled into the VIP lounge to appear on Ruby Rhod's radio show.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Korben gets a second-hand case of this during the police control, when his neighbor opts to flip the police off and shout "SMOKE YOU!" instead of cooperating. Korben visibly winces when he hears it, and mutters "wrong answer" just before the gunshot.
- Trash of the Titans: The airport has a mountain ridge of trash running through it due to the janitorial staff being on strike.
- Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The movie as a whole doesn't pay a lot of attention to logical progression of time. When the 22nd century sequences begin, it's said that the "Evil" will arrive in only 48 hours, yet far more than 24 hours worth of activities take place (not the least of which is the recovery of Leeloo's remains) before Korben Dallas is assigned to go to Fhloston Paradise several hours after it is mentioned that the Diva will be performing "in four hours". Yet Fhloston is located in another solar system, so to travel there requires the passengers to be put to sleep for an unknown length of time, and it's later indicated that the actual concert takes place about a day after the flight. Oh, and we also have to factor in the flight back to Egypt and getting to the chamber. Did I mention all of this is supposed to have taken place in less than 48 hours?
- Treasure Chest Cavity: Plava Laguna keeps the stones inside her chest for safe keeping. Well, OK, not her chest, her stomach. There's a couple of things in the way for them to be in her chest.
- Troperiffic: It's all there: Mysterious Waif, Sissy Villain glowing with cartoon villainy, Ultra-manly man Action Hero played by Bruce Willis, Rubber-Forehead Aliens, hovercar chases, Waif-Fu, the Ultimate Evil, and the world being saved through The Power of Love.note This movie is a lovingly prepared four-course meal of cheesy sci-fi tropes. And it makes sense to know Luc Besson started to write this as a teenager reading lots of sci-fi comics.
- Two Scenes, One Dialogue: Twice. Both times used to hilarious effect.Zorg: ...This case... is empty!
[cut to Leeloo laughing]
Cornelius: What do you mean, "empty"?
[cut back to Zorg with the empty case]
Zorg: Empty — the opposite of full. This CASE IS SUPPOSED TO BE FULL! Anyone care to explain?!
[cut to Leeloo explaining]
Cornelius: We're saved.
[cut to Zorg]
Zorg: I'm screwed.
- Uncle Tomfoolery: Hope you like Chris Tucker, because boy, do you get a lot of him in this movie.
- Unflinching Walk: Though he actually stops just prior to the explosion, Zorg qualifies when he tricks the Mangalores into blowing themselves up. He doesn't even flinch at the big boom in the tunnels, while his assistant freaks out.
- Unknown Rival:
- Korben and Zorg never meet or even know about each other and that they're competing for the same goal. They come within feet of one another on an elevator landing and Zorg just keeps on walking because, again, he doesn't even know Korben exists. Korben doesn't know Zorg is behind the Mangalores' activities or that he's working for Mr. Shadow. For that matter, Korben knows nothing of Mr. Shadow — only that it's an encroaching threat. Likewise Zorg has no idea that Korben stopped the Mangalores on the cruise ship or that he's helping Leeloo. Zorg doesn't even know who Leeloo is when he tries to kill her, not even knowing that if he had succeeded, he would have no need for the stones. Only Cornelius has met Zorg and then only briefly on screen. The most direct harm that Zorg ever does to Korben in the film is fire him from Zorg Industries... via a form letter... that Zorg didn't even write himself... or send himself.
- In the novelization, they do run into each other, and Korben proceeds to beat the shit out of him for "hurting his wife" after Zorg finds out he ran out of bullets (all 3,000 of them).
- Updated Re-release: This movie has been re-released more than once because it is great for showing off new high-end TVs. It's nearly always kept prominently displayed as a result.
- Urine Trouble: The idiot with the nice hat who tries to mug Korben, in addition to his nervousness and possible drug issues, is acting like he desperately needs to take a piss. Korben notices and comments, "Been here long?"
- The Usual Adversaries: The Mangalores. They seem to have a legitimate grievance with humanity, since they're always violently attacking humans throughout the movie. The last words any of them speak are "for the honor".
- Verbal Tic: Ruby Rhod's "Korben, m'man?"
- Vicious Cycle: An evil planet that comes to life every five thousand years attempts to collide with the Earth, causing a chain reaction that would destroy all life in the universe. This can only be prevented by the use of an ancient superweapon and, in the film, The Power of Love. The shot at the end when we see how close the planet got to colliding with Earth also has our eerily similarly-sized moon lingering in view as well, implying that its origins were from a previous time this happened (and that it was also a very close call) (The novelisation confirms that the Moon is the remains of a previous evil planet).
- Victory Sex: At the end of the film, the President of The Federation can't congratulate Korben Dallas and Leeloo on saving Earth because... they're busy. They need... five more minutes.
- A Villain Named "Z__rg": Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg
- Villainous Breakdown: Zorg has one surprisingly early when the Mangalores fail to deliver the stones. He then has an even bigger one when he himself fails, though this is justified as he knows what will happen if he fails Mr. Shadow.
- Visual Pun:
- The cops that come to arrest Korben's obnoxious neighbor, mistaking him for Korben, literally "bag him."
- One of Zorg's minions spies on the Federation President with a cockroach that's been fitted with a transmitter. They're bugging the conversation.
- The Voice:
- Korben Dallas's mother is heard but never seen.
- Finger, Korben's boss at the cab company. He doesn't seem unreasonable on the phone, but Dallas seems genuinely worried about crossing him.
- The Evil as well, assuming the giant mass we see isn't actually "Mr. Shadow", just what it can be perceived as in normal spacetime.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Mangalores can shape-shift to impersonate humans, right down to changing their physique. However, it's implied it is a very difficult feat to perform. Aknot re-uses the same form throughout the movie and only ever speaks in the Mangalores' distinctive, gravelly voice. Another struggles to even keep the shape-shift under control, visibly grimacing while his eyes bulge and forehead shifts between human and Mangalore, and when he speaks he cannot disguise his voice. Later a Mangalore impersonates a human voice and claims to be room service, but doesn't even attempt to hide their appearance. The only Mangalore that manages to nail both appearance and voice is the woman at the airport, and even she drops back to her Mangalore voice the moment she's out of earshot.
- Waif-Fu: Leeloo, the supreme being, proves herself supremely flexible and lethal to bad guys.
- Wasn't That Fun?: Ruby Rhod proclaims the attack of Fhloston Paradise as the "best show I ever did."
- We Only Have One Chance: With the Great Evil imminently bearing down on Earth in the climax, the main characters are in a remote temple, activating the only weapon that can stop it. The activation is revealed to need a fire source. They have a matchbox with one match...
- We Will All Fly in the Future: As typical of the genre, especially for 90s sci-fi blockbuster, cars in the world of The Fifth Element are airborne hovercraft that travel miles above the ground. Korben's flying taxi was even the centerpiece of a lot of the film's marketing material, believe it or not.
- What Does This Button Do?: When the case Zorg hired the Mangalores to bring him is empty, Zorg reneges on the deal of giving them four crates of the new ZF-1, however, when Aknot insists on compensation for risking their live to bring him the case, Zorg orders that they be given one crate, "for the cause." Outside the meeting he tells his assistant:Zorg: I like killer. A real dyed in the wool killer. Cold-blooded. Clean. Methodical. Thorough. A killer, when he picked up the ZF 1, would've immediately asked about the little red button on the bottom of the gun.[As the other Mangalores play round with their ZF-1s', Aknot curiously notices the red button and presses it, resulting in the self destruct mechanism going off]
- Wolf Whistle: When Ruby Rhod sees the sexy stewardess he intents on wooing, the background music of his radio show turns into a wolf howling.
- World of Ham: Vito, the military, the President, Zorg, and of course... RUUUUUUBY RHODDDDD! (who seems to be able to induce hamminess in people who are talking about him and people he is talking to.)
- Writers Cannot Do Math: In the 1914 prologue, the Mondoshawan's claim that they'll return the stones and the Fifth Element in three hundred years in time to protect the Earth from the Great Evil. And yet, the year it shows up is 2263, as opposed to 2214. Unless a Mondoshawan year is a little longer than an Earth's year.
- Xeno Nucleic Acid: Leeloo's DNA is briefly shown containing numerous helices compacted together. A scientist also comments that she has 200,000 "memo groups" compared with the 40 of humans,note which is pure technobabble. These are supposed to be signs of Leeloo being a genetically engineered perfect being.
- You Are Already Checked In: Used intentionally to the point of being a Running Gag.
- You Have Failed Me: Used by Zorg on the poor underling who failed to impersonate Dallas.Right-Arm: Sorry, sir, this will never happen again.
Zorg: I know.
- You Monster!: Priest Vito Cornelius tells Zorg "You're a monster", to which Zorg replies "I know."
- You Were Trying Too Hard: After trying numerous ways to activate the four elemental stones, they all give up. David laments "We're not going to make it..." and sighs, inadvertently activating the wind stone. Turns out the stones need their classical element to activate (wind for wind, earth for earth, water for water, fire for fire).