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La Femme Nikita (SE)
DVD disk
Oct 6, 2004 By: JoBlo
La Femme Nikita (SE) order
Director:
Luc Besson

Actors:
Anne Parillaud
Tcheky Karyo
Jean Reno

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A drugged-up chick sentenced to life after killing a police officer is surreptitiously recruited by a secretive governmental agency that trains professional assassins. She’s given the choice of either dying or devoting her life to be trained in the ways of a killer and she ultimately chooses the latter. Lots of training, gunshots and dangerous missions ensue.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Sadly, there aren’t enough cool movies starring women out there, but if I had to choose from the handful of flicks that are floating about (and no, I don’t consider TOMB RAIDER “cool” or “good” for that matter), LA FEMME NIKITA, ALIEN and THELMA & LOUISE would definitely ride high atop that list. This movie is successful on so many levels like its action scenes for the genre lovers, its narrative, for those who are intrigued by underground covert organizations, its writing and directing, both of which stamp the film with a real sense of authenticity and…its romance? Yup, you heard me right, not only does this film manage to balance some wicked shoot-out scenes, an appealing super-spy lead actress and plenty of bang for your buck, but it also manages to showcase a believable love story at the same time. And that’s only one of the many things that keeps me interested every time that I watch this movie.

Yes, I know that coming from director Luc Besson (the same man who created THE PROFESSIONAL), the action scenes are going to be a friggin’ blast and a half, but what makes those sequences that much more suspenseful, is that by the time the shit really goes down, you’re invested in the lead character’s plight, and you basically want her to kick ass all over the place and survive another day. Anne Parillaud is awesome as the confused yet focused Nikita, with various degrees of sentiments required to make her completely believable, and even greater conviction required to make us believe her entire transformation (although I will admit that she annoyed me with her over-the-top tantrums from time to time—shut up already!!) Some people have an issue with how the film “slows down” once Nikita is sent into training at the start of the film, but I think the entire sequence is needed and quite effective. You really see the character’s development, both as a human being and a lady (and boy, does she start looking hot all of a sudden or what??), so that her ultimate re-integration into society feels more real and earned.

By the time she meets up with her fiancé-to-be and is called to perform various undercover tasks eliminating subjects as part of her ongoing missions, you feel for the girl and her tough choices. Various scenes are memorable in this film but one of my faves is the one in which Jean Reno aka The Cleaner, shows up and saves the day (gotta love that acid!) The rhythm of the film is also well-paced with a charged entrée leading to even back and forths between Nikita’s sedentary life and her hired-to-kill operations. The film’s conclusion is also particularly effective, with one last massive assignment leading to many dead bodies, and a final loving tete-a-tete between Nikita and her fiancé. The film basically has a little something for everyone, with a touch of the French vibe to boot (more flicks should be shot in France…it’s gorgeous). We get an intriguing story, an elusive lead, plenty of bang-bang for the boys, a strong lead woman character for the girls and a whole lot of fun for everyone. In fact, I don’t say this about every hitman, but if I had to go down in a blaze of glory, I’d love to be taken down by Nikita herself. That’s right…drive one right through my skull, baby…Josephine!!

(review originally published in "The 50 Coolest Movies of All-Time")

Interesting/Little Known Facts: Jean Reno’s character of Victor the Cleaner in this film was re-visited in Besson’s 1994 film THE PROFESSIONAL aka LEON in which Reno plays a similar “cleaner” character, this time named Leon. Quentin Tarantino also paid homage to this film and Reno’s character by writing his own version of a “cleaner” into his hit film, PULP FICTION. Harvey Keitel plays a character named “The Wolf” in that movie, who is brought in to clean up a dirty crime situation. Even more ironic is the fact that Keitel also played the same character of “Victor the Cleaner” in the 1993 Americanized version of LA FEMME NIKITA called POINT OF NO RETURN, starring Bridget Fonda as the lead assassin. Confused yet? This film also inspired a long-time running TV series entitled “Nikita” and interestingly enough, director Luc Besson and lead actress Anne Parillaud have a daughter together named Juliette.
THE EXTRAS
For a so-called "Special Edition" disc, I was disappointed with what was included here. For one, where the heck is Luc Besson? The writer/director of the film doesn't even show up in as much as a "quote" in any of these extra features! Disappointing. What we do get is a 20-minute featurette entitled "Revealed: The Making of La Femme Nikita", which includes interviews with the main stars from the film including the beautiful Anne Parillaud (is it me or does she look better than ever now?), Tcheky Karyo (they might've wanted to subtitle this feature "Tcheky: This Is Your Life" with the amount of screentime he gets), Jean Reno (who speaks the least of all of them) and Jean-Hugues Anglade. I actually appreciated this piece because they offered plenty of behind-the-scenes info about the film, and even more specifically, their characters. Then again, the absence of Besson was ridiculous.

Another 5-minute featurette entitled "The Sound of Nikita" featured an interview with Besson musical mainstay Eric Serra, intertwined with some scenes/music from the film. Somewhat interesting, but the synthesizer music is one thing that never really appealed to me from the film, so not a major extra for me. But that one is nothing compared to the nonsensical addition of something called "Programming Nikita" which features three 30-second montages of clips from the film (seemingly unrelated) alongside a short sound-byte from one of its stars. A waste of time and space. I couldn't find the Easter Egg and had better things to do with my time, so I can't give you my opinion on that, but the poster gallery was yet another waste of time, in fact, I would spit in the face of the person who dared title it "gallery" since it included but 2 measly posters. I've seen more posters from the film on the IMDB section of this film. Ridiculous! We also get the film's original theatrical trailer, as well as some other "great MGM release" trailers.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The film kicks plenty of ass, incorporates characters for whom you actually care, includes humor, drama and thrills, and features solid acting jobs from everyone involved, but I was a little disappointed with this "Special Edition" disc overall. If you're gonna lowball me on the extras, don't call it a Special Edition, for God's sakes. This is a basic edition of the DVD, with one decent featurette (sans Besson) and that's about it. Don't buy it for the extras, but definitely rent it for the film, or you know what....buy it if you dig the film, only because it has great re-watch value as well, so it's worth it anyway. Besson...where are you, dude?!?
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