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TOP 100 REVIEWERon April 13, 2014
A drugged out. almost brain-dead punk full of attitude and anger, Nikita is caught after helping rob a drug store, leaving several cops dead. She’s given a choice. Accept a quiet death penalty, or agree to be trained to be a secret government assassin. A good part of the film (and arguably the most interesting) is her training itself, as Nikita’s rebellious nature keeps getting her pushed to the edge of getting kicked out (and hence executed), while her strange sullen sexiness begins to seduce her Henry Higgins, an agent assigned to oversee her who finds himself getting more than a bit obsessed. Meanwhile, the always wonderful Jeanne Moreau tries to teach this nihilistic punk how to come off as a woman of the world, the better to be able to get close to her targets.

This is often argued to be a film of style over substance, and in the big picture that’s probably fair. And it didn't hold up quite as well on a recent 2nd viewing 20+ years later as I hoped. But still, this spends more time on human interaction and emotion, and less on blowing stuff up than almost any of its contemporary counterparts, Not art, but for a popcorn movie smart, inventive and fun.
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on July 1, 2003
The movie gets five stars, but this new special edition disc gets one. I own the previous MGM release of this movie which was widely known to have many picture and subtitle problems. I loved the movie enough to purchase this new version. With my fingers crossed, I popped the disc in...
...zut alors! The anamorphic widescreen picture quality is still lousy. Grainy, occasionally pixelized. Look at patterns in the background during the movie and the problems are quite evident. For example, in one scene when Nikita is in training and chatting with her trainer Bob in her room, a grill on a piece of furniture on the left side of the screen creates a hugely distracting pattern that always diverts my eye.

But we get some special features with this special edition, right? Only with the most liberal definition of "special." These empty chats and documentaries are considered standard features for most other DVDs, so I'm not sure what we're supposed to think is special. There's even an easter egg, though it's not hidden, so I guess it's just an egg. But since it's just a short set of film clips, not all that exciting, I guess it's a rotten egg.
There are a few improvements. The English subtitles are better less distracting to those of you who speak French. The 5.1 soundtrack is still solid, though not noticeably better than the one on the original MGM disc. I'm not sure if it was remixed. If you don't own a copy of this movie, by all means buy the special edition. If you own the previous version, learn from my mistake and either keep you original version or sell it and buy a used copy of the special edition. Or lobby MGM for a real "special" edition.
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on June 9, 2002
I normally don't watch violent or gory movies, but caught this after being recommended to watch the professional by Luc Besson. fell in love with tcheky Karyo and already liked Jean Reno,(first saw him in French Kiss.) Ann is perfect for the part, the american series of Nikita can't even touch this movie! Taunt action, shocking scenes, great stunt work, and shootings and death with a message, what more can you ask for? made me wish I understood more french, so I wouldn't have to rely on subtitles. don't go dubbed EVER!! you must hear these peoples actual voices, it makes the movie even more powerful if that is possible. Not for everyone, but if you like a realistic action-packed story with good parts developement, especially Ann,and Tcheky with everything in its place, check out this movie. If you are like me, you will need to watch it several times to get really into all the details. each time I watch it I find something new to think over afterwards. (Same with the Professional.) Luc Besson gets slammed alot over here in the U.S. but I think he is alot better than most of our viewing public is aware. (we are used to to much american [movies].)
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on February 2, 2002
This is a succesful French film that was remade as an American film with Bridgette Fonda in the lead role.
The French film is starker and grimer and it is more elegant.
The opening of the film shows some hopeless junkies commiting a mindless and violent jukie crime. A press report of the incident is released saying that all of the criminals involved have been killed. However one has not, that being Nikita. She has been taken into custody by the security services. They want to train her as an killer. As she is legally dead they have considerable control over her life.
The film is a sort of My Fair Lady as the hopeless junkie is trained not only in how to use weapons but in make up and deportment. The idea is that she has been chosen because of her looks and sex appeal.
The plot of the moview involves her development as a killer and her attempts to regain some form of normal life.
When it was released the film was fresh and based on an original idea. The film is very French in that the main is gorgous, the dressing is elegant and the film is gripping and well done. A classic of the genre.
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on January 29, 2002
That's our Anne - not quite an orphan, but very much submitted to the "hard knock life" until an unfortunate mishap [along the lines of her twin's {Alex} - "Clockwork Orange"] "incident" with the Cat Lady. She accidentally off's a cop during a botched drug-induced punk robbery, ends up in jail, on death row, executed? No, ........not quite yet...!
"Miss" ends up in a sort of Charm School [an ultra covert assination bureau for the misbegotten] - is given two choices, "Shape Up" or it's crematorium time - something like that. Under the expert guidance of her mentors, Heartthrob Tcheky Kayro [not quite a Professor Higgins - he is more concerned about her marksmanship], and Jeanne Moreau as the Charm School Mistress, she buds into rather an exotic bird
AND, along the lines of Eliza's ball in "Fair Lady" makes her spectacular debut at a rather elegant restaurant, complete with what she thinks is a Graduation Gift - and what a Gift!
It's a very contemporary and unsettling climate.
There are numerous tests, twists and turns, she even gains an understandably bemused and befuddled lover, a slightly clueless "guy next door". Yes, there is some redemption to this violent little tale!
It's NOT for the kiddies, too - too violent, especially the brilliant Jean Reno as the "cleaning guy" with a penchant for acid baths.....a moment not to be forgotten, expecially the coup de grace "shot"!
Talented director Luc Besson subsequently brought us "The Professional" also with Reno, and the glowing "Fifth Element" - very worthwhile.
A companion? "Clockwork Orange". Also the USA remake with Bridget Fonda, virtually a shot by shot recreation ....
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on January 16, 2002
In the opening scene, the character Nikita utters the simple phrase "J'en veux" several times. Each time, however, the DVD gives a different translation: "Gotta have it", "You have it?" Never does the real translation appear: "I want it." This simple, yet aggravating, translation problem seems to characterize the quality of the DVD as a whole.
Nonetheless, the movie is fantastic. Luc Besson directs a thriller action movie, one which everyone can enjoy. The acting is superb, the special effects are great, and the plot is utterly compelling. This is not a movie to be missed.
While the VHS version has a better translation, the DVD has better picture quality. Which do you prefer? ...We can only hope that a special edition will be released in the near future.
On the plus side, the English voice-overs seem to be much better than those normally included with foreign titles. (I've only watched the opening scene with the dubbed soundtrack, however. I prefer subtitles.)
If you're interested in other foreign action movies, check out Nowhere to Hide. Although this new Korean movie is more artistically oriented than the average American action movie, it is outstanding.
As for La Femme Nikita, the movie is definitely worth 5 stars, but the DVD deserves only 2.
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on January 1, 2002
One of the nice things about DVD and foreign films is the subtitle and audio options. The movie is in French, with English subtitles, but that is fully at the viewers discetion now as to how they view it. I had previously owned 2 VHS copies, one in French with subtitles, the other in dubbed in English. Few differences between the two audio wise, and it holds the same for the DVD.
About the film itself, the story and camera work is outstanding. I am not the biggest fan of the main leads, however, they are outstanding in their roles. Many of the shots you will see in the film you will see in other action movies later, such as the bullet from a gun shot that got John Woo so much noise, although I think this was done before Woo used that shot. I could be mistaken, though. Either way and anyhow, this has a great script, a very capable cast, and was filmed better than 99% of the A-list movies available today. This is quite simply a text book example of how a great action movie is made.
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on August 16, 2001
As a longtime fan of this movie, I was thrilled to get the DVD, only to find that I really prefer my old VHS tape. The picture is sharper, of course, but it's much more severely letterboxed than the VHS version, which on my standard-sized TV set means much squinting; moreover, the picture is distorted on the sides and top, so that all straight lines appear curved, as if the film were being projected with the wrong lens.
But worst of all is the new translation of the film's dialogue into English. Both subtitles and dubbed dialogue take so many liberties with translation that entire lines are sometimes added, while other important moments ("Pencil?") are altered beyond recognition by overly creative translating. Even with my rusty French skills, I can tell this translation departs a *lot* from the lines as they were originally spoken.
The film itself is so visual that it overcomes a lot of the rewriting in the translation, but I'll hold out hope for another release that will preserve the integrity of the dialogue.
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on January 19, 2001
Luc Besson ("The Fifth Element") directed this intricate, action packed film that keeps one's interest after many viewings. Anne Parillaud is the punky cop-killer who gets reprieved and trained as a government agent. She's perfect for the part: Strong and rambunctious, with a sensitivity that develops as her character matures. Some of her lessons are taught by Jeanne Moreau, who tells her that "There are two things that have no limit: Femininity, and the means of taking advantage of it"...well, if you look like Parillaud, that's probably true !
As the two men in her life, Tcheky Kanyo as Bob, her mentor, and Jean-Hugues Anglade as Marco, her fiancée, are terrific. The cinematography by Thierry Arbogast uses great camera angles and lighting without getting too "arty", and though there's a great deal of violence, it's essential to the plot...and what a marvelous ending. It's the kind of ending I appreciate.
I had to sit through the abysmal Hollywood remake of this a few years ago...titled "Point of no Return", it's one to avoid...see the original instead !
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on January 7, 2001
Nikita (Anne Parillaud) is running with a gang of violent drug crazed punks. Their last big raid, on the pharmacy run by the father of one their number, ends in the kind of shoot out that would later become associated with Tarantino. Several cops and the whole gang except for Nikita lay dead and she is put on trial and sentenced to life in prison.
Bob, (Tcheky Karyo) an officer in the French Security Service thinks that Nikita has some potential. He arranges for her death to be faked and makes a proposal to her. If she is willing, she can be trained as a government killer and given a new life. If she is not willing, or fails to make the grade, the faked death will become a real one.
Her training does not just teach her to become a better killer. Armande (Jeanne Moreau) teaches her how to be a polished and attractive young lady as well. Finally, she is sent out with a cover ID and a series of missions. She is good at her job and her missions are successful but there is just one problem. She has learned more than just how to kill and how to appear feminine. She has learned how to fall in love and must work out how to keep her life with her boyfriend Marco (Jean-Hugues Anglade) separate from her working relationship with Bob.
It's a good story and we see lots of fast paced action. Even in the slower sections, such as where Nikita must introduce Bob and Marco, the tension is high. More than this, we see real character development. Nikita is full of resourcefulness from the start and she learns many things in the course of her training. Often, things that her tutors did not realise that they were teaching.
Right at the end, there is an appearance by Jean Reno in which he presages his later role as the "cleaner" in Leon. The man who sorts out everyone else's worst mess.
Finally, a word of advice. If you can find a copy, watch the French language version with sub titles. You may not understand much of the dialogue but the expressions and the melody of the script still come through.
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