French director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) broke the commercial taboo against female-driven action movies with this seminal, seductively slick film about a violent street punk (Anne Parillaud) trained to become a smoot... more »h, stylish assassin. Though it amounts, in the end, to little more than disposable pop, the film has a cohesiveness in style and tone--akin to the early James Bond films--that gives it a sense of integrity. Parillaud is compelling both as a wild child and chic-but-lethal pro (trained in good manners by none other than Jeanne Moreau). Tchéky Karyo is also good as the cop mentor who develops feelings for her. --Tom Keogh« less
"Some of the greatest French movies have been remade for US audiences and no one knows about it: Trois hommes et un couffin/Three men and a baby, The Talented Mr Ripley/Plein Soleil (With Alain Delon - where do you think Matt Damon got his pointers?), Le Retour de Martin Guerre/Sommersby... among others. La Femme Nikita is yet another that is way above its American counterpart, The Point of No Return with Bridget Fonda, and deserves its own spot in your movie collection. The TV series doesn't count.Nikita was written and directed by an (at the time) up and coming Frenchman by the name of Luc Besson (Subway, The Professional, the Fifth Element...) who has fantastic mind for action, eye for cinematography and sense for musical scores (Nikita has some great industrial sounds which you can also find in the Fifth Element). Released in 1991, this film pre-dates the canonized litany of films like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.More importantly, and as some reviewers have noted, Nikita combines thrilling action and tension (without expensive FX) with a very touching sense of humanity. Here you have this junkie social reject turned into a well behaved, proper, yet deadly government agent. It's interesting how the government selected someone about to go to jail rather than picking from a horde of eager, patriotic young recruits that would beg to do the job. Their fault is that they assume that this reject is just effectively a machine and has no redeeming human qualities. As the film progresses, you see that Nikita yearns for intimacy and love - it's what makes her vulnerable and it's also probably what makes her so good.Anne Parrillaut plays an excellent Nikita - crazy, kind, warm, insane, feminine, athletic, anarchistic and maternal. Quite a walking contradiction.... yes.Joining Parrillaut are great performances by Jean Reno (The Professional, Ronin, Le Grand Bleu) as Le Nettoyeur (the cleaner) and Marc Duret as her instructor and mentor. Jeanne Morreau also brings a very human element to the Some criticize the ending for not been satisfying... Fair enough, it's clearly a "French" ending, but I think it's the right ending. The governments wants her to be an obedient machine, her boyfriend wants her to be a nice little wife and nurse. Neither of those are really who she is and that's the ending is such.As for the language issue... The French or subtitled version is the only way to go. So much of acting is in the speech and delivery that accepting a dubbed version basically says that you think actors are just pretty faces. The great thing about the DVD is that you have the French, Subtitled and English version all in one. Granted, I speak French. But I hate watching American movies dubbed in French just as bad.La Femme Nikita is/has become somewhat of a cult classic in the US (already is in France)and is one of the movies that put Besson on the map. Regardless of that, it stands on its own as a great movie. Highly recommended...."
Merde! Special edition fails to correct picture problems
Eugene Wei | Santa Monica, CA USA | 07/01/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The movie gets five stars, but this new special edition disc gets one. I own the previous MGM release of this movie which was widely known to have many picture and subtitle problems. I loved the movie enough to purchase this new version. With my fingers crossed, I popped the disc in......zut alors! The anamorphic widescreen picture quality is still lousy. Grainy, occasionally pixelized. Look at patterns in the background during the movie and the problems are quite evident. For example, in one scene when Nikita is in training and chatting with her trainer Bob in her room, a grill on a piece of furniture on the left side of the screen creates a hugely distracting pattern that always diverts my eye.
But we get some special features with this special edition, right? Only with the most liberal definition of "special." These empty chats and documentaries are considered standard features for most other DVDs, so I'm not sure what we're supposed to think is special. There's even an easter egg, though it's not hidden, so I guess it's just an egg. But since it's just a short set of film clips, not all that exciting, I guess it's a rotten egg.There are a few improvements. The English subtitles are better less distracting to those of you who speak French. The 5.1 soundtrack is still solid, though not noticeably better than the one on the original MGM disc. I'm not sure if it was remixed. If you don't own a copy of this movie, by all means buy the special edition. If you own the previous version, learn from my mistake and either keep you original version or sell it and buy a used copy of the special edition. Or lobby MGM for a real "special" edition."
A lot better
Flipper Campbell | Miami Florida | 08/23/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The "Nikita" hardcore can celebrate MGM's rerelease of the French action film, a single-disc affair that should erase memories of the studio's botched first DVD, from three years ago.The initial "La Femme Nikita" DVD failed director Besson miserably, with visuals just a step up from the VHS. The new special edition looks a lot better, although some digital artifacts remain. Flesh tones seem true and the handsome French interiors get back their luster. Audio wasn't bad on the first disc, and it sounds about the same on the new DVD. The film comes widescreen only (2.35:1), with the 16x9 enhancement.A new 20-minute featurette interviews the key actors, but not Besson. The director's music man, Eric Serra, has his say on an interesting 5-minute extra, "The Sound of 'Nikita.' " An easter egg reveals one of Besson's working methods. Ann Parillaud, who played Nikita, looks a lot more relaxed these days. The actress recalls training with weapons and martial arts for a year before filming began. She found karate "violent, painful and scary," but became obsessed with the firearms. Jean Reno, who went on to international stardom, says he played his popular Victor the Cleaner character without reading the script -- Besson had him walk right into the film. The DVD also includes a pointless "interactive map" that explores Nikita's habitats. A goofy trailer and a poster gallery complete the package."
WARNING: This is NOT the Theatrical Released Subtitled Vers
Flipper Campbell | 05/03/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"WARNING: This is NOT the Theatrical Released Subtitled version.MGM for whatever reason has completely changed the english subtitles on their dvd and they are TERRIBLE!If you have seen the originl movie, you know that the award winning Besson film is edgy; intelligent. The re-subtitling of this movie is absurd and frustrating to watch. Request that the out of stock dvd by Samuel Goldwyn be re-distributed and send MGM a message. Foreign films should not be manipulated for any reasons whatsoever."
Great Movie. Terrible DVD
Robert S. Truesdell | Costa Mesa, CA USA | 09/18/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Once again, a DVD producer has chosen to release a substandard product. Add "Pioneer" to the list of DVDs I will not buy. This is a VERY POOR reproduction. Some of the artifacts detract from the movie in a very strong manner. For example, the entire DVD is full of moire patterns and bad compression artifacts. Some of the aliasing and moire is so distracting that it causes ones eyes to be drawn inescapably to them. I will never buy another DVD until I have had an opportunity to view the production quality first. This is a very shoddy way for the DVD producers to treat their audience. To pay more for a DVD and then have it contain less quality than a VHS tape is, in my mind, criminal. The actual movie (story, acting, directing) is pretty good and I would give this 4 stars, but the media quality is so bad I just don't know what to do."