Although he's directed a handful of Luc Besson screenplays, director Gerard Krawczyk own brand of screwball humour is starting to dominate these Besson-produced films; it's still a light Besson comedy (wafer light), but the emphasis on physical nuances are more pronounced than Krawczyk's last film, “Wasabi.”
Indeed, “Taxi 3” feels like a genre hybrid, embellishing the physical pratfalls and inept police archetypes redolent of the “Pink Panther” films with the extreme visuals of Tex Avery cartoons. Facial gestures are blown to ludicrous proportions, and one does get the impression Krawczyk carefully demonstrated each gesture for his cast before rolling any film.
The “Making Of” featurette – essentially a montage of production moments set to title music from “Wasabi” – unfortunately features nothing of the director or producer in action, but it gives a good idea of where some cameras were placed to achieve such outrageous angles.
Perhaps produced under the shadow of the “Austin Powers” franchise, the film's action teaser is a smoothly edited chase involving a recognizable action star (sorry, no spoilers in this review) who's ultimately reduced to a Bessonesque character when ferried faster than a bullet train to the airport. (Given the actor's legendary persona, the results are hysterical.)
The title design elegantly spoofs Maurice Binder's spiraling female forms from the Bond films, and incorporates live-action vignettes patterned after the DePatie-Freiling “Pink Panther” cartoons from the 60s. The rest of the movie fails to live to the opening's promise, offering a surprisingly low action quotient; however, the Krawczyk-Besson interpretation of human childbirth that closes the film (and likely the franchise, given a recent video game spin-off) is a major high point.
Gathering the cast from the previous films, “Taxi 3”also features a few in-jokes and cameos: the bank robbed at the beginning – “EuroCorp.” – is Besson's production company; and director Krawczyk makes a cameo as a lazy highway cop with a radar gun.
Until the American remake of “Taxi” is released in 2004, it seems that DVD releases of the entire “Taxi” franchise will be restricted to Asian and French-language releases (the latter, which include French and French Canadian editions, lack English subtitles and language tracks.)
This Korean edition has a few informational blunders: while a beautiful NTSC transfer, the anamorphic ratio is 1.78:1, flipping to the film's original 2.35:1 ratio only for the main titles. Additionally, though the packaging says Region 0, this is a region-coded release (likely Region 3), so North American fans of the “Taxi” series may not be able to play this edition on their conventional Region 1 players and DVD-ROMs.
An otherwise acceptable release, there's also a 2-disc special edition, released in Korea and France, which includes a director commentary (!), longer production featurettes, and promo materials.
© 2004 Mark R. Hasan