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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leon - brilliant - one of Besson's best!!
Leon is amongst my favourite films (incl. Dernier Combat, Subway and Big Blue). Film follows the story of an 11-year old girl (Nathalie Portman) and hit man (Jean Reno) who takes Portman under his wing after her family is killed by corrupt cop (Gary Oldman).
Oldman delivers a superb performance in his portrayal of a psychotic, drug snorting, truly unpleasant villian...
Published on 8 Dec 2002 by Zebedee

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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Film - shame its not the directors cut!
A superb film - and it deserves 5 stars - however, something is missing on the DVD. Buyers ought to be aware that this DVD does not contain some of the great scenes (such as the whole episode where Leon and Matilda are cleaning together). The film works much better with (rather than without) those scenes. My advice: buy it - or better wait until the directors cut is...
Published on 7 Dec 2000


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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leon - brilliant - one of Besson's best!!, 8 Dec 2002
This review is from: Leon [VHS] [1995] (VHS Tape)
Leon is amongst my favourite films (incl. Dernier Combat, Subway and Big Blue). Film follows the story of an 11-year old girl (Nathalie Portman) and hit man (Jean Reno) who takes Portman under his wing after her family is killed by corrupt cop (Gary Oldman).
Oldman delivers a superb performance in his portrayal of a psychotic, drug snorting, truly unpleasant villian (listens to Beethoven's symphony to inspire him before a killing - both comic and chilling; somehow this and True Romance's pimp roles seem made for Oldman)!
Besson's talent is evident in his portrayal of the relationship between Reno and Portman. He deals with delicate themes such as Portman being the adult at times - she's a mother to her brother, wanting to appear mature as she smokes her cigarette when she first meets Leon vs. Leon playing the father figure/professional hitman role yet being a child himself, is moving; the sexual chemistry between the characters is warm and natural without being sordid. Superb film - not to be missed.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My "Desert Island" film., 23 Sep 2005
By A Customer
I'm a great film buff with diverse tastes and I often wonder which film I'd want with me if I were stranded on that mythical desert island. Time and again though I come up with the same answer: Leon.
I can't fault this film. Luc Besson is a true artist (I've thoroughly enjoyed his work on every occasion) and this is surely his finest achievement. The casting is truly inspired. I cannot imagine another actor bettering Jean Reno's portrayal of the hitman with a heart.
That said though, the thing that stunned me on first viewing, and on each subsequent viewing, is Natalie Portman's performance as Mathilda. I think I'm correct in saying that she was thirteen years old when Leon was filmed and I cannot understand how someone so young could demonstrate such maturity. She is an absolute 'natural', and perfectly cast.
Finally, I was very impressed by the way Besson dealt with the sensitive subject of their 'relationship'. He manages to convey the warmth without making the viewer feel uncomfortable about the (20 year?) age difference. This becomes more important in the 'director's cut' which contains an extra 20 mins of film which explores their relationship in greater depth; Mathilda has 'designs' on Leon, but he keeps things platonic. Beautifully handled.
If you haven't seen this film you owe it to yourself to give it a viewing. A pity there are only 5 stars available!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT ,GREAT MOVIE, 15 Sep 2006
By 
sean paul mccann "mccanns23" (ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Leon [DVD] [1995] (DVD)
Leon is a film that on the outside looks like a film about a hitman that avenges a little girls grief by going after those that killed her family,fair enough if thats what you saw,in truth it is a deeper movie than that,a movie that shows the meaning of love and what one will do to show it and spare another.

The film is great and gary oldman stars as a cop that is as evil as those he puts away and when one of his drug sellers takes some himself the outcome aint pretty.The character of leon who is supposed to be the good guy isnt much better,he is a cold killer,who is paid to kill without need for question or thought and in the middle of these two is natalie portmans character,a 12 year old girl chased by one protected by the other.

The film explores the relationship between man and child and how a child can soften the heart and maybe even the senses when you truly care for them.There is blood here,there is drama,chases and more more,this is a great film,if you havent seen this then you really should.
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162 of 175 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'EVERYONE!!!', 16 Aug 2009
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Back in the day when Luc Besson had standards and Natalie Portman could act this action film gave a fresh lease of life to the words 'overblown', 'intense', and that now hackneyed, abused and bedraggled word, 'passionate' (in its old meaning of intense feelings that controlled your every action, not ones that led to your part-time hobby, or doing your job ok).

The three leads, Reno, Portman and Oldman are possessed, driving the story to an amazing climax. And Besson fills the screen with meaning and purpose, delivering the kind of scenes that Hollywood includes in schmaltzy tributes to the magic of the cinema. The film is a genre unto itself - popcorn art-house. The continental style of Besson, the focus on Little Italy, presents New York with a fresh perspective even now.

The main story sounds controversial, the developing love between a hitman in his 40s and a 12 year old girl arguably more emotionally mature than him, and it is. Some people see Leon as only a father figure for the girl, Mathilda, but no, while it is love it is not familial love. However, Reno plays Leon in such an intelligent and sensitive way that the film never becomes distasteful nor illegal and the purity of the love remains, even if it hints at a future.

Gary Oldman is supremely talented in all of his films, an excellent Beethoven, subsumed entirely into Mason Verger, and magically metamorphosised into a human pair of slippers as Commissioner Gordon, but rewatching Leon now makes you realise that any role in which he doesn't play an out and out villain is a tragic art crime. He was born to play the kind of evil lunatic he is in Leon (and as good as Heath was, I would have loved to have seen Oldman as the Joker).

Although it may feel slow-paced to some, if you're trying to lead an action fanatic into a richer world of film you can do no better than Leon. Sadly the picture seems to have done the opposite for Msr. Besson, whose output has become ever more vapid, and Natalie Portman too; she still has to fulfil the expectations raised by her performance here.

*Blu ray*
1080p. DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 - Bass is no longer distorted as on the old DVD, the rhythmic booms used by Besson add to the tension now rather than causing discomfort. Dialogue very clear. English subtitles only. Region B. Director's Cut (133mins - still 3 mins off the French version) and Theatrical Cut (110min). 2.35 aspect ratio faithful to the Technovision process (the same as used by Coppola for Apocalypse Now).

I'm with Christian Bale on extras. People have gone to extraordinary lengths to give you convincing lies, why ruin the magic? However, the interview with Natalie Portman is interesting, given all the second hand reports of how she regretted the film. The interview with Reno is also above average for these kind of things. And finally there's the 10 year anniversary reminiscence by cast and crew and a trailer.

There's no comparison to the old DVD, it is a gigantic jump. Even if it is diffcult to rate. If you've seen the avforums review you'll find the chap's complaints are nonsensical; the colours are very natural and vibrant as needed where vibrancy occurs. Watch Speed Racer if you want shiny pretties. There was some rare and isolated shimmering of bright light colours and the picture quality does feel a little aged (the latter not necessarily a bad thing - it helps establish a feeling of time and place entirely in keeping with the Old World view of New York). There's still obviously room for improvement but that next step essentially would be a copy of the negatives and a projector. Note that the original film and sound have not been remastered but this means that they have retained a great natural filmic quality - and the reproduction of the print makes it feel like a cinema experience. Importantly, the film looks as it was intended to look and it has not been mutilated by DNR. Unreservedly worth the upgrade, at what cost is up to you.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique and moving film, 28 Aug 2002
By 
Jeffrey Davis "jmd555555" (Sussex UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Leon [VHS] [1995] (VHS Tape)
Despite the violence (which is never gratuitous anyway) this is a touchingly moving and sometimes funny film which explores the relationship between a hitman (played in a brilliantly understated way by Jean Reno)and a twelve year old orphaned girl Mathilda (Natalie Portman in her best performance to date.)
Gary Oldman gives a truly sinister performance as a psychotically murderous corrupt cop (the enemy of both Leon and Mathilda.)
The humour provides some light hearted relief ( ie Mathilda's impersonation of Madonna, Marilyn Monroe in "Happy Birthday Mr. President" and a great Charlie Chaplin) also Leon's attempt at John Wayne is a nice moment.
The musical score by Eric Serra is very good although, presumably, for copyright reasons, the excellent single "Venus as a Boy" by the Icelandic singer and actress Bjork is not included on the soundtrack but it is available separately at budget price.
One of my favourite moments is when Mathilda, having just been rescued from Oldman's murderous colleagues by Leon, asks him his name.
On hearing what it is she replies "Cute name" at which point Leon spills his glass of milk all over himself! a nice moment in an intelligent, original and moving film.
The film avoids being exploitative due to the sensitivity of its direction and through the intelligent performances by its leading actors.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Excellent!, 11 Feb 2005
By 
Joel Spicer (Leeds, West Yorkshire, GB) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Leon [DVD] [1995] (DVD)
I have yet to find a Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) film that can be awarded less than 5 stars! Leon is, of course, no exception.
When a young Mathilda(Portman) is forced to flee from home, she reaches out to Leon(Reno), her neighbour. Finding out he is a ruthless hitman she herself soon wishes to follow in his steps, so she can act out revenge on the corrupt cop, Stansfield(Oldman).
This is an action packed film with an emotional storyline, and possibly one of the greatest endings in film history.
With Stunning acting by Jean Reno as Leon, Gary Oldman as the corrupt Agent, and a fabulous debut by Natalie Portman as Mathilda. This is a must see, if not a must buy!
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars leon directors cut vs ordinary cut, 19 May 2010
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I loved this film in its original form but the extras in the directors cut are amazing. The normal film has so much missing that without watching the additional cuts you just do not realise how the missing pieces affect the ordinary cut particularly surrounding Leon and Matildas emotional relationship. The film is not about a sexual relationship, it is not that, its about the loneliness of an assasin with the mind of a child vs a child that has had to become an adult far too early particularly in relation to cruelty and her parental responsibilities to her younger brother. All in all worth the expense of having multiple copies of the film.

The transfer to blueray is ok but not brilliant when compared for example to casino royale blueray but for me it was about getting the additional cuts and with blueray they all fit on one disc no problem.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking choice of versions., 7 Dec 2009
By 
Mr. T. A. Maurice "Film Addict" (Essex,England) - See all my reviews
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I have to agree with a previous reviewer that 'The Director's Cut' presents not only a different viewpoint of the relationship between Leon,and Mathilde,but also a fuller insight into the awakening of emotion in a previously ice cold hitman.
I don't agree that seeing Mathilde going on 'Hits' detracts from her confrontation scene with Gary Oldman's character.She is after all a 12 Year old girl being faced with death.
I also have to disagree with the comments about the Picture Quality of this Blu-ray disc.
It is superb.
I sometimes wonder if equipment difficiences are not to blame for perceived failings.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 31 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Leon [DVD] [1995] (DVD)
Excellent, beautiful film.
Brilliant acting from all involved, Gary Oldman is truely pyschotic and unerving (especially when he snaps his neck to swallow his drugs). Jean Reno is perfect, subtle and funny. This film is one of Luc Besson best.
This version is the UK cut at 109 minutes long the 'international' directors cut runs to 133 minutes. And the Region 1 DVD of that version is available from Amazon.com. That DVD also has more special features than this. Region 2 disc's seem to be extremely lacking in exploiting the format of DVD, most just contain the film with scene access. Get the Region 1 verison to truely enjoy this film.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story, 26 April 2007
By 
SJ SMART "Smartie" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Leon [DVD] [1995] (DVD)
This is one of my all time favourite films, its a great story of a hired assasin in New York who meets a young girl played by a young Natalie Portman (the daughter of a neighbour) who soon becomes an orphan because of the ruthless corrupt and crazy DEA Police officer played by the fantastic Gary Oldman, who shows one of his best performances in this movie.

Its packed full of action including an explosive finale, but its just not an action thriller, its a very powerful and moving story.

I have often found it hard to describe the relationship between the "cleaner" played by Reno and Portman's character. He I feel sees her as the family he has never had. She obviously has a crush and sees him in romantic way, which he doesnt encourage and struggles to cope with!!!

its these unexpected twists in the story and clever sub plot that makes the film stand out from the crowd. its a modern classic and needs 10 stars. Watch and enjoy endlessly!
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Leon [DVD] [1995]
Leon [DVD] [1995] by Luc Besson (DVD - 2000)
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