16

I just re-watched The Fifth Element last night, and I realized there was something I'd never understood. When Korben Dallas is selected for a mission by his former commanders, they rig a contest to get him two tickets to Fhloston Paradise. This begins a scramble by a number of parties to take his place:

  • Cornelius and Leeloo visit Dallas at his apartment, and end up mugging him.
  • Zorg's assistant tries to frame Dallas for uranium smuggling, and have him arrested.
  • The Mangalores attack the police convoy, to try to kidnap Dallas and shapeshift to look like him...
  • ...but it doesn't work because, it turns out, the man the police arrested was actually Dallas's neighbor, who had stolen his door tag and number moments before.

What's up with that neighbor character? The prize tickets were delivered by mail slot, not at the door, so he must not have been trying to intercept them. (Plus, they'd already been delivered by the time he stole the door tag.)

enter image description here

He clearly didn't like or anticipate the arrival of the police, so he must not have been in league with Zorg, and the Mangalores thought he was Dallas, so he must not have been with them either. And, if he was trying to take Dallas's place, it's kind of odd that such an impulsive, seemingly violent man (he was shaving with a pretty wicked knife), would simply take Dallas's door tag, and do nothing about/to Dallas himself.

Is there any extra information about this character? Why did he steal Dallas's door tag? Was he trying to intercept the tickets, and simply didn't know that they were coming by mail, and he was too late anyway? Was he just hoping for a vacation, or did he have another motive?

20

The implication is that Cornelius and Leeloo removed the unit number when they arrived at Korben's and then placed Korben's card on the neighbor's door.

From the script:

Leeloo and Cornelius search for Korben's apartment. Leeloo carries the card Korben gave her. Cornelius finds the apartment, and yanks the. number off the door. He waves Leeloo over as his hand goes to the bell.

(snip)

C.U. Korben's calling card is clumsily stuck to the door of the neighbor's apartment. COP 3 slaps the viewer on the nasty neighbor's door. The neighbor is at his sink shaving instead of against the wall, COP 1 arrives with Korben's picture.

You can see the card stuck in the neighbor's door in the scene.

  • Ah, fascinating! I never, ever made that connection in all the years I've been watching this movie. Thanks! – Nerrolken Jul 7 '15 at 17:11
13

From my own answer to this question in Imgur, the order of events is actually quite straightforward.


Having seen the police coming, the Priest (Cornelius) rips the cabbie-shaped business card off Korben Dallas' door and defaces his door number.

Off-screen, he moves the card to the next door along.

enter image description here


"I think this is the door. There's no name and no number"

enter image description here

The police arrive to arrest Korben for "Uranium Smuggling" (courtesy of a tipoff by Zorg's henchman 'Right Arm') but are unable to locate his door because Cornelius has changed the numbers.


Negative : I am a 'Meat Popsicle'

enter image description here

The police use their scanner to view Korben and ask him whether he's "classified as human". He replies that he is a "meat popsicle"; e.g. someone who's spent a long time in cryogenic suspension and hence his physical age won't match his legal age.


"Smoke You!"

enter image description here

The police find Korben's business card on the next door along. The resident expresses his displeasure at being interrupted during his morning shave and the police arrest him, assuming that he's Korben.

Simple really.

  • I understood the order of events, I was asking about the move of the nametag to the neighbor's door. – Nerrolken Jul 7 '15 at 18:36
  • @Nerrolken - In that case, panel 1 is your friend. You can see from the age spots that it's Ian Holm's hand, not Richard Leaf's. – Valorum Jul 7 '15 at 18:49
  • 3
    Do you have any reference/source for your definition of "meat popsicle"? – Martha Jul 8 '15 at 2:41
  • 1
    @Martha I was wondering on that, too. I always assumed he just meant to be "funny". Maybe it's worth a separate question? – Zommuter Jul 8 '15 at 8:27
  • 1
    @Martha DVK asked a very related question – Zommuter Jul 8 '15 at 11:21
2

It is a plot instrument to demonstrate :

  • Cornelius is alert, competent, innovative.
  • The cops are basically grunts.
  • Korben is privy to the "meat popsicle" hack, and has clearly played this game before.

(establishment of bona fide bad assery or training in intelligence)

  • Korben lives in a rough area, this type of raid is likely common. (Compare w/ Dredd).

"Smoke You!" is a sanitised euphemism, but crazed druggie with mental health issues, you just know they get on just fine.

Works on a comic effect level as well.

  • 2
    What is the "meat popsicle hack"? – Chris Jul 8 '15 at 8:42
  • The response : "Negative, I am a meat popsicle." – mckenzm Jul 9 '15 at 3:16
  • I get that it refers to that line. I don't get why saying that is a hack. – Chris Jul 9 '15 at 7:50
  • OK, the statement is not true, but it will be accepted. He knows this, it is not a calculated risk. Workarounds like this qualify for the "hack" label. – mckenzm Jul 9 '15 at 10:05
  • 3
    I think I disagree on your interpretation of the scene. I wouldn't say it was accepted, it just happens that after he gave the answer the policeman was called away by one of his colleagues who mistakenly thought he had identified the person they were looking for elsewhere so he went to deal with them. Somebody actually asked a question on this here if you hadn't seen it scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/94885/… . Thought it may be of interest since you have a different view on it. – Chris Jul 9 '15 at 10:10

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