La Femme Nikita (Nikita) (1991)

Rating: ★★★½☆

This is the original film that spawned an American remake and a popular television series. Most fans of French films are familiar with writer/director Luc Besson (Angel-A, Taken, From Paris with Love), and although it wasn’t his first film this is the movie that put him on the map. Besson is one of the most talented directors working in film today, and the action genre is his canvass of choice.

Anne Parillaud stars as the title character, a young woman so broken by the path her life has taken that she’s nothing more than a wild animal (in the opening scenes a strung-out Nikita robs a drugstore and kills a police officer). Sentenced to life in prison, she is made to look like a suicide before being enrolled in assassin school, courtesy of a secret government program developed to train professional killers. Nikita is deemed to have the proper physicality, moral ambiguity, and malleability to become a human weapon, controlled by her masters at the program.

As the movie progresses so does Nikita. Her initial resistance and defiance towards her handlers gives way to acceptance of her new life, she learns how to handle a gun, martial arts (Anne Parillaud trained in Judo for four months in preparation for this role), and in a cameo by Jeanne Moreau, is instructed on the finer parts of presenting herself as an attractive young woman. Nikita’s real transformation begins after her training is complete. While awaiting her next assignment she falls in love with a man who knows nothing of her true past, and Nikita’s awakening as a human being capable of love and kindness changes everything.

Also starring Jean Reno, this is a notch above the typical action/thriller. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, it is highly recommended.

DVD Details

  • Actors: Anne Parillaud, Marc Duret, Patrick Fontana, Alain Lathière, Laura Chéron, Jean Reno
  • Directors: Luc Besson
  • Writers: Luc Besson
  • Producers: Luc Besson, Claude Besson, Mario Cecchi Gori, Patrice Ledoux, Vittorio Cecchi Gori
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, DVD, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 U.S. and Canada only.
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: July 1, 2003
  • Run Time: 118 minutes

Special Features

  • “The Sound of Nikita” featurette
  • “Revealed: The Making of La Femme Nikita” featurette
  • Programming Nikita: interactive map
  • Stills, poster galleries, and more

This DVD got rave reviews on Amazon, with a better than 4 star average out of 5 stars from over one hundred customer reviews.