Although this movie did well in worldwide gross ticket sales, I think it connected better with audiences outside the US. Maybe we take our sci fi too seriously here. Or maybe the international marketing team did a better job. Who knows?
Bottom line: The Fifth Element is filled with awesome. It is a modern day classic. And I think it was largely responsible for launching the sci-fi film career of model Milla Jovovich.
The cast is also filled with well known character actors. Although the entire film is filled with campy sci-fi goodness, there are a few standout performances.
Gary Oldman, of course, makes an incredibly unique villain. And you can see him reveling in what must be a well developed sense of the absurd. The southern accent and weird comb-over meets plastic plate thing on his head ? So funny.
Chris Tucker is a show stealer, too. His role as a futuristic radio personality whose style is man-whore meets cross dressing fop is so over the top it's classic. I dare you to watch this movie and not smile at his ensembles.
And lastly, there's the musical performance of the "Diva." The diva was portrayed by two people: one for the physical part, another for the voice. The song was performed by Albanian Inva Mula (according to Wikipedia) but I am still astonished by how unique the look and sound of that performance is. I can't think of anything even close. The aria is from Lucia di Lammermoor, followed by a song only identified as "The Diva Dance." That song is the one I found so remarkable. A mix of operatic singing and a more modern beat.
This is sci-fi comedy at its best. It doesn't take itself too seriously, doesn't overwhelm with the special effects, and does a pretty decent job at being entertaining.