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In Marseille, France, an aspiring racecar driver named Daniel, is a Vespa pizza-delivery boy who just quit his job and became a taxi driver. With his supercharged Peugeot 406 he eludes the police while quickly transporting his fares to their destinations. Finally caught by the police for a huge speed infraction, he is forced to help Émilien, a down-on-his-luck police inspector, on the trail of professional German bank robbers driving supercharged Mercedes. Trying to juggle a budding relationship with his beautiful girlfriend Lili and a need for high-speed chases, Daniel helps Émilien so that he does not lose his license and quite possibly his job.
For more about Taxi and the Taxi Blu-ray release, see Taxi Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on March 25, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Gérard Pirès
Writer: Luc Besson
Starring: Samy Naceri, Frédéric Diefenthal, Marion Cotillard, Manuela Gourary, Emma Wiklund, Bernard Farcy
» See full cast & crew
Taxi Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 25, 2013
Winner of Cesar Awards for Best Sound and Best Editing, Gerard Pires' "Taxi" (1998) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French label ARP Selection. The supplemental features on this release include original trailers for the film; making of featurette; and a gallery of production stills. The release also arrives with a 40-page illustrated booklet with information about the film as well as collectable photographs. In French, with optional English and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
The plot follows two very different men living in Marseille, France's second largest city. The first, Daniel (Samy Naceri, The Nest, Days of Glory), dreams of wants to be a Formula One driver, but makes ends meet as a pizza delivery boy. The second, Emilien (Frederic Diefenthal, Belphegor, Phantom of the Louvre), is an ambitious cop who wants to be a star, get a driver's license, and sleep with his beautiful German colleague Petra (Emma Wiklund, Taxi 2, Taxi 3).
Daniel meets Emilien shortly after he quits his pizza delivery job and applies for a taxi license. He picks up Emilien and, without knowing that he is a cop, tries to impress him with his new souped up Peugeot. In front of the local police station, Emilien quickly arrests him for speeding.
But instead of getting his taxi license revoked, Daniel gets a second chance to impress Emilien: If he helps the police capture a group of highly skilled German bank robbers, Emilien will forget about his speeding offense.
There are two simple reasons why one would want to see Gerard Pires' Taxi. The first is the driving. Anyone with some interest in racing is guaranteed to enjoy the incredible James Bond-style driving on the streets of Marseille. I know from good authority that Taxi inspired many young European drivers to engage in illegal street racing events precisely because the film was so convincingly shot. The second is the breezy humor, which keeps the film somewhat grounded in reality.
Luc Besson apparently wrote the script for Taxi while waiting to hear whether Hollywood might be interested in financing his science-fiction film The Fifth Element. It is not one of his best, but it isn't disappointing either. There are quite a few sequences where the romantic undertones do not feel right, but they do not make the film look sloppy either. Elsewhere, the not so subtle jabs and sarcasm the German robbers suffer also seem off, but there is one pretty good remark that hits its target with impressive authority.
The cast is likeable. Naceri is always relaxed in front of the camera and willing to improvise. His facial expressions during some of the film's most energetic sequences are particularly good. Diefenthal is also hilarious as the complete loser who can't seem to focus on his work whenever his sexy female partner approaches him. Marion Cotillard also has a small role in the film. However, despite her mostly solid performance, her character is completely forgettable.
Taxi was lensed by cinematographer Jean-Pierre Sauvaire, who would later on team up with Frédéric Schoendoerffer on the thrillers Crime Scenes (2000) and Secret Agents (2004) (the latter starring Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci and looking very elegant). The racing footage is first class. The finale also has one absolutely fantastic panoramic shot that has been imitated in a couple of Hong Kong-produced films.
The film's memorable soundtrack was composed by famous French rapper and producer Akhenaton a.k.a AKH. Also used in the film are a few very stylish tunes by Studio Patrick Abrial ("Misirlou", "Ramble", and "Traicionera").
Three more Taxi films were made after the original: Taxi 2 (2000), Taxi 3 (2003), and Taxi 4 (2007). All three films were directed by Gerard Krawczyk.
Taxi Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Gerard Pires' Taxi arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French label ARP Selection.
Generally speaking, detail and depth are far better than those seen on previous DVD releases of Taxi. More often than not the daylight footage, for instance, boasts the type of depth that we have come to expect from good Blu-ray releases. Colors are stable and appropriately saturated. Contrast is also pleasing. However, there are traces of extremely light denoising and sharpening corrections. They never become overly distracting, but the larger your screen is, the easier it might be for you to spot their presence. During close-ups with plenty of natural light these traces are typically easier to see than during sequences where light is restricted (see screencapture #2), but there are also sequences with wider panoramic shots where the more sensitive amongst might also spot them. Finally, some light compression artifacts are also visible from time to time. All in all, clearly this is the best Taxi has ever looked, but I feel that the presentation could have been even more convincing. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray release. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is no problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu).
Taxi Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Frech DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, ARP Selection has provided optional English and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. Whent turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
The lossless audio track opens up the film exceptionally well. The shootouts are predictably crisp and punchy, but the racing footage is guaranteed to surprise viewers with its wide range of dynamics. The screeching tires and powerful engines sound great. There are no balance issues. Also, the dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and easy to follow. The English translation is very good.
Taxi Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Taxi Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Gerard Pires' Taxi was a pretty big hit in Europe when it was released back in 1998. However, despite Luc Besson's involvement in it, the film was never officially released on DVD in the United States. If I recall correctly, around 2001 a lot of people were importing a R3 DVD produced in Thailand, which for a long period of time remained the only quality English-friendly anamorphic release. There is some room for improvement with this new Blu-ray release of Taxi from French label ARP Selection, but I think that it will made a lot of people very happy. RECOMMENDED.
Taxi: Other Editions
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Taxi Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Gérard Pirès' Taxi Heads to Blu-ray (Updated) - February 27, 2013
French label ARP Sélection has revealed that it is planning to bring to Blu-ray Gérard Pirès' classic action comedy Taxi (1998), starring Samy Naceri, Frédéric Diefenthal and Marion Cotillard. The preliminary release date set by the studio is April 8th.
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