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La Femme Nikita(1990)
Rescued from death row by a top-secret agency, Nikita (Anne Parillaud) is slowly transformed from a cop-killing junkie into a cold-blooded bombshell with a license to kill. But when she begins the deadliest mission of her career only to fall for a man who knows nothing of her true identity, Nikita discovers that in the dark and ruthless world of espionage, the greatest casualty of all...is true love.
For more about La Femme Nikita and the La Femme Nikita Blu-ray release, see La Femme Nikita Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 25, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Starring: Anne Parillaud, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Tchéky Karyo, Jeanne Moreau, Jean Reno
» See full cast & crew
La Femme Nikita Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 25, 2009
Arguably one of the most successful contemporary French thrillers, Luc Besson's "La femme Nikita" (1990) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures. The film's terrific visual style, coupled with an unforgettable performance by the enigmatic Anne Parillaud, proved to be a formula few could resist. Region-Free.
A gang of junkies breaks into a drugstore but the police arrive and corner them in. All are killed with the exception of a young woman (Anne Parillaud, Innocent Blood). She is arrested and immediately sentenced to death.
Before the sentence is carried out, however, the government gives the woman a second chance – they promise to let her live if she agrees to work for them. She does and her death is faked. The woman is instantly locked in a secret facility where she is trained to become an assassin. Three years later, the woman is released with a new identity - Nikita. She is told that when the government needs her services someone would contact her.
A charming store clerk, Marco (Jean-Hugues Anglade, 37°2 le matin), falls for Nikita. The two become friends and then lovers. Nikita likes her new life and decides that Marco should never be told about her past. Then, someone contacts Nikita.
Even though the action is what attracts many to La femme Nikita, its heavy psychedelic overtones are what transforms it into a terrific film. Additionally, the main characters are intriguingly flawed, at times even weird.
Anne Parillaud, who prior to La femme Nikita appeared in Alain Delon's homage to Henri Verneuil La Battant (1983), another unusual crime film, does a spectacular job as the jaded but disturbingly skillful assassin. She is cool, when she needs to be, but also quite unpredictable. Unsurprisingly, La femme Nikita is most effective whenever the French actress goes berserk.
The second half of La Femme Nikita is clearly the weaker one. It follows a familiar route and it certainly does not benefit from the psychedelic overtones mentioned earlier. Director Besson introduces all sorts of familiar twists that ultimately negate a lot of what makes his film worth watching. Notable cameos by the enigmatic Jean Reno (Leon) and earlier Jeanne Moreau (Ascenseur pour l'échafaud) add a different type of flavor to the film - Reno is absolutely hilarious as the professional "cleaner"- that further dissolve the weirdness from the opening scenes.
I remember when La femme Nikita was first released in European cinemas, many critics were unhappy with the flashy violence it introduced. Obviously, times have changed and what was once perceived as scandalous now seems, more or less, grotesque. Still, it is worth pointing out that La femme Nikita was a much different film nineteen years ago.
Director Besson's style also changed a lot. With success came a desire to please rather than to be innovative, and the Frenchman ended up producing some truly disappointing films (Kiss of the Dragon, Wasabi, Taxi, etc). A glimpse of what could have been arrived with the release of Angel-A (2005), but it is certainly obvious now that his best years are behind him.
La Femme Nikita Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures.
Even a basic comparison between the Special Edition SDVD (blue cover) and the Blu-ray release of La Femme Nikita would quickly reveal how substantially better the film looks in 1080p. Contrast here is spectacular, detail consistently strong and clarity undoubtedly the best I have seen. Furthermore, a lot of the color pulsations the old MGM disc was plagued with are definitely not an issue of concern with this transfer. On the contrary, the color-scheme of La Femme Nikita looks notably healthy and strong (perhaps the greatest improvement the Blu-ray disc offers in terms of color reproduction is the excellent saturation). This being said, the print provided by Sony also reveals a good dose of film grain, which those of you with larger screens will certainly appreciate - La Femme Nikita looks very natural and, I assume, the best it could without a massive restoration being performed on it. Finally, I did not detect any specs, debris, or dirt to report here. (Note: This is a Region-Free release which you will be able to play on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
La Femme Nikita Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks that you will find on this Blu-ray disc: French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (strangely enough, the English dub appears to be the default track). The treatment Sony have provided is also a substantial upgrade over what was offered on the SE DVD. The French Dolby True HD 5.1 is notably active, potent and crisp. Also, the rear channels get plenty of activity. Furthermore, a lot of the action scenes (especially the gunshots) reveal a very nice crispness, which I am positive will impress fans of La Femme Nikita. The bass isn't overly active, but there really isn't a lot in this film that relies on it. Finally, the dialog is crystal clear and very easy to follow. This being said, I did switch to the English dub a few times but found it to be quite lifeless. Technically, however, I believe that it is, at best, a good match for the French track. Finally, Sony have provided optional English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Traditional Chinese, and Korean subtitles. When tuned on, they appear under the image frame.
La Femme Nikita Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Blu-ray disc, similar to Sony's The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, is a bit of a mystery to me. It is BD-Live enabled but it isn't functional (I tried getting to where we should be able to find supplemental materials of some sort, but such are simply not in existence). With other words, aside from a few trailers for other Sony releases, there is nothing else to be found here.
La Femme Nikita Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A genre-defining classic, Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita arrives on Blu-ray with spectacular audio and video. Without a doubt, this is the best the film has ever looked, and I urge you to consider upgrading your SDVDs as the improvements the Blu-ray offers are dramatic. It is a bit unfortunate that there aren't any substantial extras to compliment the excellent presentation but, let's hope that at least some will be added up later on via the BD-Live portal. Regardless, this is a terrific package! Highly Recommended.
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La Femme Nikita Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Luc Besson Classics Coming to Blu-ray - September 22, 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment have announced that they will bring the Luc Besson films 'Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc' and 'La Femme Nikita' to Blu-ray on December 2nd. 'Joan of Arc' will be presented in 2.40:1 1080p AVC while 'Nikita' will be presented ...
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