13 of 13 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:
It adds background...
Published on Nov. 11 2002 by Meanwhile
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Natalie Portman in her best role!,
By A Customer
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 movie.
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 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Portman shines in an early role,
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 Yes to Leon,
Fantastic movie. Great chemistry between Leon & Matilda ( although the relationship feels a bit creepy at first ). I HIGHLY recommend
5.0 out of 5 stars Gary Oldman!!!,
There are many great villains in film history, but Gary Oldman's performance in 'The Professional' ranks right up there with the greatest! A very well done action movie that boasts great performances down the board!
4.0 out of 5 stars Determinedly odd, over the top and a lot of fun,
Determinedly odd, over the top and a lot of fun., This strangely sentimental, wonderfully photographed, very violent black comedy is like
some demented marriage of a sincere Disney film about a 12 year old girl looking for a father (or, in an intentionally disquieting French
twist, a lover), with the over the top darkness of David Lynch, or Kubrick in his "Dr. Strangelove" mode, and some John Woo action
thrown in for good measure.
Sound weird? Well, it is, and there are some huge logic jumps and gaping plot holes. But the film disarms those potential problems by
never pretending to be the world as we know it, but creating a heightened, strange, through- the-looking-glass reality where hit men
are sweet softies at heart, and New York cops are not only corrupt but openly bat-sh@t insane, gunning down whomever gets in their
way with gleeful abandon.
Gary Oldman goes way, way over the top as the baddie, and is a blast in the process. Jean Reno creates some real pathos in his sad faced,
killer, who is so alone that he's almost child-like in his having to learn to relate to another human, and Natalie Portman gives a shockingly
complex performance for an actress so young, playing so tricky a role. A film I could understand someone hating if they didn't get into
Besson's decidedly off-beat vibe, but if you go with it, it's that rarest of film creatures, something unique.
The blu-ray looks great provides both the theatrical and extended director's cut and has some solid bonus features besides.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Professional,
This review is from: The Professional Bilingual (DVD)
This is a great little film with a stellar cast - Jean Renoir, Gary Oldman and a wonderful Natalie Portman in her first movie role. It tells the story of Matilda whose family was killed by dirty cops (Gary Oldman) and she falls in with Leon, a professional hit man. The story tells a wonderful little slice of life in New York City - anything is possible - and Matilda's trying to get justice for her family.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie,
This is one of the best movies i ever saw...
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Got Milk?,
There's hardly anything I can say that will do justice to the splendor of 'Leon - The Professional'. The insanity of both the action sequences and Gary Oldman's performance... the touching love story of 2 lonely outcasts... the fantastic cinematography... the heart-breaking tragedy... the pulsing score... the violent life of a shy, milk-drinking, plant-loving hitman... the soul of an innocent little girl... the blistering, chaotic, blood-drenched fury that lives in all 3 of these characters...
...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) (Sous-titres français) (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!!!,
This film is one of my absolute favorites. I've never once watched it without being engrossed (and without crying, at least once). The international cut is far better, I think, than the one released here in the States. There are scenes that deepen the relationship between the two main characters and make you mourn the death of Jean Reno's character even more. Buy this film, this version. You won't be disappointed.
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Leon: The Professional (Deluxe Edition) (Sous-titres français) by Luc Besson (DVD - 2005)
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