12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Natalie Portman in her best role!
I don't usually like to watch movies about hit men or cops and robbers. I remember I got interested in this movie because of two things: Luc Besson's movie the Fifth Element, which was so wildly different and fascinating that I wanted to see what else this French director had done; and secondly, seeing Natalie Portman for the first time in the Star Wars: Phantom Menace...
Published on July 16 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings about the Uncut International Version. . .
I was a big fan of this film from the first time I saw the much-maligned US version ("The Professional") a few years back. So I was thrilled to see this Uncut version of it on DVD. I finally got to see it this week and have mixed feelings about it. The added footage (at least the footage I can disseminate as being added) is:
Published on Nov 11 2002 by Meanwhile
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Natalie Portman in her best role!,
By A Customer
Behind all of the dense make up and bad script and horribly non-existent directing from George Lucas in Phantom Menace, I sensed in Natalie Portman one heck of a terrific young actress struggling to come up with a meaningful performance. In "Leon - The Professional", working with a superb director, her acting talent is on full display.
When one thinks of modern day child actors, Anna Paquin comes to mind, in "The Piano", because she aced out some terrific adult actresses in 1993 to win the Oscar. Well, Natalie Portman, at age 12, had Anna Paquin beat by a mile in this movie, since her character takes up about half of the movie. If not for the truly unusual and off-beat story line of this movie, Portman would have gotten a lot more attention for her role in this movie, I think.
If you just focus on Portman's facial expressions and the way she carries herself in this movie, she goes through an amazing acting range in this movie, from hurt, terrified, bored, stuck up, cool and calculating, manipulative, sweet, child-like, and pubescent sexual allure.
As mentioned by other reviewers, the uncut version restores scenes that basically give a harder edge to Natalie Portman's character. The additional scenes of her assassin training with Leon and her efforts to attract and get closer to Leon definitely put her character in a harsher light. I remember from my first viewing of the cut U.S. version that Mathilda came across as a much more sweet and innocent child. The uncut version shows her more to be a hardened child of the mean streets of New York. Given the usual Hollywood propensities, it's not that surprising that these scenes got cut for the U.S. release. The uncut version does show the fullest acting range of Natalie Portman, even if they make her character less sympathetic.
Basically, the movie skates close to, but avoids the pedophilia controversies of the "Lolita" movies by having the character of Leon adhere to a strict code of ethics that firmly blocks all of Mathilda's advances. Even at the end, when he kisses her good-by and says that he loves her, it is clearly in the vein of being her protector and a big brother/father surrogate figure.
All in all, this was a great movie. Jean Reno was just so hauntingly sad as the loner-assassin Leon. Gary Oldman was definitely over the top in his portrayal of the crazed DEA agent - you almost expected his Dracula fangs to come out and his eyes to glow red when he popped those pills into his mouth.
So all of you Natalie Portman fans, this movie is a definite must-see. All of you Phantom Menace/Attack of the Clones haters who think that Natalie Portman can't act, you've got to see this movie to understand that no, Natalie Portman is a terrific actress. It's just really, really tough to play opposite total stiffs like Hayden Christiansen and Jake Lloyd, working with an idiot director like George Lucas.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Portman shines in an early role,
This review is from: The Professional (Le Professionnel) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)Leon: The Professional (1994)
Crime, Drama, Thriller, 133 minutes (extended version)
Directed by Luc Besson
Starring Jean Reno, Natalie Portman and Gary Oldman
Leon (Reno) is good at one thing: killing people. In other matters he's almost like a child. He can't read or write and he barely has enough skills to look after himself. He lives in an apartment building and hides away when he's not on a job.
Leon's neighbors include 12-year-old Mathilda (Portman), who lives with her drug-dealing father. When a corrupt cop (Oldman) murders her father and the rest of the family, Mathilda turns to Leon for help. This is where things start to get interesting. Although she's 12, Mathilda has more of an idea of how to survive in the real world than Leon. She offers to take care of him in return for protection and shelter. She also wants to learn how to kill people.
The premise is so unlikely, but it works. Leon teaches Mathilda the tricks of his trade. Some might find it inappropriate to watch a 12-year-old girl dealing with material of this nature, but Portman is superb in her first full-length feature. The two develop believable chemistry and love each other in some ways. The only other thing that Leon cares about is his beloved potted plant. The two are continually on the move to stay safe, so it's not much of a life for a young girl.
The movie works because of the strong relationship between Leon and Mathilda. It's interesting to watch her train and see the bond deepening between the two. Revenge is always on her mind and she tries to persuade Leon to kill the men responsible for murdering her family. The final showdown is intense and contains a lot of action for fans of that genre. But, unlike many action movies, we feel as if we know the main characters and we genuinely care what happens to them.
The Blu-ray contains the original 109-minute theatrical version and the extended 133-minute version. I recommend the latter to see the full extent of the relationship between Leon and Mathilda.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie,
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Got Milk?,
...It's just a vortex of beautiful destruction. All these things crammed into one amazing film. A remarkable cast giving remarkable performances, and a very visual director shoving this seething powerhouse of a film right in our faces...
Like I said, there's nothing I can say. So, just believe me when I tell you that this is a very great film.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece,
This review is from: Leon: The Professional (Deluxe Edition) (DVD)This is literature on celluloid. The music is top notch too. I recommend only the so-called "International" (deluxe) version, or as Besson calls it, the "long" version. Far too much character development was removed from the American release, making that version just another action flick.
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!!!,
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense Thriller that Never Fails,
After a corrupt cop (Gary Oldman) eliminates the family residing next door due to a drug transaction gone wrong, Leon finds himself the guardian of young Mathilda (Natalie Portman in her screen debut). Taking Mathilda under his helm, Leon teaches her the art of the "cleaner". However, danger lurks around every corner, and Leon must protect Mathilda from the same cops who killed her family.
Considered by many to be his masterpiece, "Leon" was originally released in the United States under the title "The Professional". However due to the feeling that American audiences might find some material unacceptable, over 24 minutes of the film was edited out. Finally, Columbia/Tri-Star has made an excellent decision in releasing the uncut, international version of this excellent film in the U.S.
While the film's central theme revolves around Leon and his job, the subplot where Mathilda develops an attraction for Leon is reminiscent of the novel/film "Lolita". The chemistry between both characters in a father/daughter relationship can be intense, especially as we notice that Mathilda is in her puberty-stage.
Jean Reno is excellent as always, and Gary Oldman gives a chilling performance as Stansfield, the wicked DEA officer who murdered Mathilda's family in cold blood. However, the real scene-stealer in this film has to be Natalie Portman. This beautiful young girl radiates beauty and professionalism throughout the film. Her porcelain-looking skin, and her big brown eyes are well utilized in this film, making her character more childish, yet mature to a certain extent. Portman proved to audiences in this film that she was no flash in the pan, and in her subsequent films, she continues to be a scene-stealer. She is truly Hollywood's most gifted young actress.
In this version, most of the 24 minutes that were left out in the film's 1994 release in the U.S. mainly involves both Leon and Mathilda going on "cleaning sweeps" where she gets first hand training in the art of assassination. The other half of these minutes focuses on Mathilda's attraction to Leon. Her persistent attempts to be intimate with Leon all fail, but we finally understand why Leon remains a loner when it comes to affairs if the heart. Some might be uncomfortable about the idea of Mathilda and Leon sharing a bed together, but Besson paints this scene as one involving platonic love and not sex.
In wrapping up, I recommend this film for anyone who enjoys a nonstop, high-impact thriller in the same tradition as the "Matrix," "Blade," or "Dead Calm". Luc Besson truly is one of the world's greatest action directors, and "Leon" captures his magic. An excellent, pulstaing film from beginning to end!
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Moving Film I Have Ever Seen,
This review is from: Leon - The Professional (Uncut International Version) (Superbit Collection) (1994) (DVD)Firstly, Jean Reno is brilliant, he plays a French Hitman in NYC and knows nobody in the city, until the flat next door is rampaged by a twisted cop (Gary Oldman) but the daughter of the man next door (Natalie Portman) survives the rampage and with nowhere to go, Leon eventually feels sorry for her and takes her in. The story unravels as Gary Oldman hunts down Leon and most importantly the girl.
The film contains a lot of action, and plenty of violence (most good films do) you really feel as if you're in the world they're living in, and soon relate to Jean Reno as the hitman. Gary Oldman is also very good, (when isn't he?) you feel the hatred aginst him straight away when he blows away the flat with a shotgun, plays the twisted, psycho cop extremely well.
It is definatley not a film for the faint hearted, lots of violence, blood and guts but also has a very emotional and sad side to it. Very deep film, truly moving, well worth 5 stars, a must see!
5.0 out of 5 stars "I said take out the guy, not the whole building!",
This review is from: Leon - The Professional (Uncut International Version) (Superbit Collection) (1994) (DVD)I agree with the guy that said this is one of the greatest films ever made, this is currently my favorite all time movie and this is the uncut international version, you get 24 minutes of footage not shown in the U.S., I recommend you get the Superbit version for optimal picture and sound, this is a must buy!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep and moving,
First off the bat it ignores a lot of stereotypes that existed at that time about hitmen, especially Italian ones that worked for a face that is played up to be part of La Cost Nostra, even it if isn't said outright. He doesnt' wear Armani Suits, eat spaghetti, sleep with high class floozies, or hang out at bars bragging about who he has done in all while drinking shots and snorting coke. No, he is a quiet introvert, that does his job, and meticulously focuses on his quiet and simple life. He is illiterate, has only one real friend, cares for his plant like it was a pet, and loves going out to musicals. Which, the latter is a great scene, seeing a hardened killer smiling like he was a 10 year old boy while watching muscials at a nearly empty theater was classic. Plus the more you get to know of his character the more you realize he is stunted emotionally, flawless killer, but unable to handle simple social interaction.
Natalie Portman shows her talent in her first role as the rebellious daughter of a drug handler. She shows not only her potential for being a great actress, but intelligence in this role. Where she falls in love with a hitman and is dead set on avenging the death of her little brother, the one person in her dysfunctional family she cares for.
Gary Oldman is in his classic evil form as a drug addicted DEA agent that has crossed the line. True, he does overdo the character, but that is what makes it fun. Watching him pop some green pill, chatter about Bethoven, then procede to break into an apartment killing everyone in it was one of the best parts of the film.
The camera angles and the characters in this movie are fresh and gritty. Not falling to sterotypes, they make you feel like you are really in New York, sweating along with the cop in a bad suit and five o'clock shadow.
The love story is bizarre, but works in the end. Two misfits, that find each other and help pull themselves out of their downward spiraling lives.
This is a powerful movie that I think everyone should experience. It hits on many levels and appeals to many different types of people, people who like to view films as artwork to those who just like an action flick, this movie will deliver. Though I was tempted to take away a star since I didn't like the additions of the directors cut, the power still holds. See the theatrical release first, then watch the directors cut. Afterwards you can pick your favorite and watch them over and over again.
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Leon - The Professional (Uncut International Version) (Superbit Collection) (1994) by Luc Besson (DVD - 2003)