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54 of 55 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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54 of 55 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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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
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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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164 of 177 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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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If I met an assassin and he was like Leon..., 17 Jan 2008
I don't usually rent movies about people who kill for a living, but one day, the cover of Leon happened to catch my eye; and from there, well, it's all old history.
The story sets off with an action-packed beginning in which the character of Leon, excellently played by Jean Reno, is first introduced. Of course, this is an action movie, and with those you kind of have to be careful because you could end up with something terribly dumb, something that takes away two hours of your life that can never be returned, something too macho or too ridiculous to even enjoy, something with a weak plot and no character development...or you could end up with something kind of like Leon. This isn't your standard mindless action film; it's got character development, heart, action, brutality, and an underlying message. And when I FINALLY saw it after passing it at the video store for years because I didn't feel like sitting through yet another bad and annoying action movie, I was glad I did.

After the slaying of her entire family, Mathilda (Natalie Portman proves her talent as the disillusioned girl even at such a young age), is taken in by Leon, the cleaner, who promises to teach her his trade. I think that the greatest element in this entire movie, the thing that makes it what it is and gives it that last powerful punch, is the character development. Mathilda is bitter and obviously confused about normal relationships, considering that her family life was a muddle of abuse, neglect, and drug trafficking. Gary Oldman plays Stansfield, the sick and twisted bad cop whose deranged and erratic behavior is so convincing in the film that I almost forgot he was playing a part in a movie. And then, there's Leon, my favorite, whose loneliness and distance from normal life tugs somewhere deep and makes you feel for him even though his profession involves taking the lives of others.
The characters aren't cardboard and one-sided as in most mindless action films. In fact, I am so impressed by the characterization and the actors' portrayal of their characters, that I wish both Jean Reno and Gary Oldman had been awarded for their performances. They definitely deserved it. No one could ever have pulled off Stansfield's disturbing character the way Gary Oldman did, and as for Jean Reno...no one else could ever be Leon.

My one complaint with the entire film is that sometimes the relationship between Leon and Mathilda feels a little bit uncomfortable due to her attitude toward him. But most often the awkward moments just come out funny. I am pretty sure that with her previous family life, she would be confused about her feelings. No one's ever really cared for her and when someone finally does, she gets turned around and misconstrues the meaning.

The rest of the film, from beginning to end, is just a flash-bang of fast-paced action, hope, violence, friendships, betrayals, kindness, and new beginnings. And the climax, the final showdown, is pretty great: explosions, SWAT team, the whole nine yards.
Leon-The Professional is an awesome action movie with an actual story; a very smart and original film not to be overlooked or forgotten. Luc Besson truly did well with this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ranks up there with the Usual Suspects, Pulp Fiction, Fight Club etc., 9 Sep 2007
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I guess this film attracted negative attention when it was released and the original theatrical edit was cut down to prevent an over reaction by the media. However, It probably didn't need to be as there is no hint of a sexual relationship between Leon and Matlida.

If you haven't watched this film because you thought that some paedophile fantasy storyline is in it, think again.

It's a story about a 12 yr old girl whose innocence is being eroded by her own dysfunctional family and home environment being saved from certain death by a hitman. Leon the hitman has become a withdrawn, emotionally immature, shy being whose only purpose is to assasinate. He is never paid and never asks for his payment because the nature of Leon's relationship with his mafia boss Tony is very simple: Tony briefs Leon about a target, Leon does the hit. Leon is very much taken for granted.

I'm not going any further with telling what happens in the story for those who have not seen it.

Superb direction and cinematography. Excellent soundtrack. Fantastic performances by Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman and Danny Aiello

Nobody overplays their part....well Gary Oldman is as extreme as he is meant to be. His character seems to be using a combination of Angel dust and Coke, not known for inducing a state of calm. There are people who are that mad and on those kind of stimulants. Gary Oldman plays it very well.

This extended version is the same as the "version longue" which was released in France . Both this and the theatrical versions are fantastic but this version is slightly better ( in my opinion) because it just seems more complete and answers a few questions.

Worth every penny.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 3 Aug 2007
By 
S J Buck (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Leon [DVD] [1995] (DVD)
Luc Bessons Leon is a spellbinding story of a Hitman and a young girl. The hitman 'Leon' is played by Jean Reno and 'Matilda' by Natalie Portman. Both are brilliant. The other major role in the film goes to Gary Oldman as the corrupt and psychotic Policeman 'Stansfield'. Oldman is typically over the top, but in this film it felt right.

The detail of the relationship between Leon and Matilda is left implied but unstated directly. It may be sexual, despite Matilda being underage, but somehow you accept that their relationship works. Although Matilda is the innocent because of her age (12), Leon appears on some level to be an innocent or simpleton as well. He is a deadly hitman, but he is being ripped off by the man who organises the jobs for him, and I never got the impression that he had a grip on anything other than how to kill people.

This is all done beautifully. Scene after scene will stay with you: The opening where Leon goes to visit the 'Fatman'. The early rampage by 'Stansfield' at the apartment when Matildas father is in trouble over drugs. The scene in the toilet at the Police Station. I could list a dozen memorable scenes quite easily.

One thing worth mentioning is that although a lot of bullets fly during this film, there are really no special effects, and yet it is effortlessly more entertaining than say Mission Impossible III (a random pick of a recent blockbuster) which is full of CGI effects and explosions. In Leon you care about the characters beacuse the script is good (the music is also an inportant factor as well). This film will affect you and despite the violence, and occasional black comic moments, you may well end up crying.

The longer version, which you can buy on region 1 is worth getting, but having seen both I would give them both 5 stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leon, 20 Sep 2007
This review is from: Leon [DVD] [1995] (DVD)
The Tale of a Hitman who takes a girl under his wing, after her life is torn apart by a brutal murder. What makes Leon such a classic, timeless film is the effortlessness with which it weaves Leon and Mathilda's bittersweet relationship into a gripping story of corruption, and violence.

The film features uniformly excellent performances from its three leading actors: Jean Reno is superb at the professional, leading a cold and rigid life, struggling to cope with his new found responsibility over Mathilda. Gary Oldman is his antagonist, and excels as the bone chillingly out of control cop on a warpath. But it is the performance of the 13 year old Natalie Portman that truly steals the show. As Mathilda, she brings a playful spark into Leon's life. He protects her as her world falls apart, whilst she saves him from his own cold and lonely solitude.

Leon and Mathilda learn from one another, about the world, and about themselves, as the forces of corruption try hard to bring them down. The action is frequent and intense, but more than matched by the intensity of their relationship, which blossoms right up to the film's climax. Leon tugs at your heartstrings through all of the violence and turmoil, encapsulating you within the Bond between these two people. It is a timeless and magical story of friendship and love, through all the hardships that can be thrown against it, and deserves space in everyone's collection.
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Leon: Director's Cut [DVD] [1994]
Leon: Director's Cut [DVD] [1994] by Luc Besson (DVD - 2009)
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