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164 of 178 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'EVERYONE!!!', 16 Aug 2009
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This review is from: Leon - The Director's Cut [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
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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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Jan 2010 19:22:34 GMT
Very brilliant review. Thanks.

Posted on 18 Jan 2010 12:21:50 GMT
Phil Ruse says:
Good review covering the film AND Blu ray. Nice one!

Posted on 9 Dec 2010 00:53:16 GMT
Carlos Carmo says:
great review! Could you tell me if this movie has portuguese subtitles, please?
Thanks

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Dec 2010 09:25:53 GMT
Sorry, English subtitles only.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Dec 2010 08:20:52 GMT
Carlos Carmo says:
thanks a lot!

Posted on 21 Jan 2011 00:47:00 GMT
JMF says:
Great review.

Does this cut have the scenes where Matilda is taken on hits with Leon?

Posted on 21 Jan 2011 00:54:56 GMT
JMF says:
Great review.

Does this cut have the scenes where Matilda is taken on hits with Leon?

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Mar 2011 11:25:35 GMT
Ovidijus says:
Yes

Posted on 23 Oct 2011 14:52:30 BDT
Mr D.K Lind says:
Stellar review! Well done!

Posted on 7 Dec 2011 13:04:49 GMT
Nozama says:
'Back in the day when..Natalie Portman could act' Duh, what planet have you been living?
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