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Crime, Drama, Thriller
IMDB rating:
Luc Besson
Jean Reno as Léon
Gary Oldman as Stansfield
Natalie Portman as Mathilda
Danny Aiello as Tony
Peter Appel as Malky
Willi One Blood as 1st Stansfield man
Don Creech as 2nd Stansfield man
Keith A. Glascoe as 3rd Stansfield man (Benny)
Randolph Scott as 4th Stansfield man
Michael Badalucco as Mathilda's Father
Ellen Greene as Mathilda's Mother
Elizabeth Regen as Mathilda's Sister
Carl J. Matusovich as Mathilda's Brother
Frank Senger as Fatman
Storyline: After her father, mother, older sister and little brother are killed by her father's employers, the 12-year-old daughter of an abject drug dealer is forced to take refuge in the apartment of a professional hitman who at her request teaches her the methods of his job so she can take her revenge on the corrupt DEA agent who ruined her life by killing her beloved brother.
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A Brilliant Conflict
This film, better known in the U.S. as "The Professional", is a wonderful and intense film. Jean Reno plays his role as a "cleaner" with incredible subtlety. Leon tries to keep his emotions completely suppressed, yet Matilda (in an extraordinary performance by a young Natalie Portman, who is destined to become a very powerful actress into her adult life) bring out in him a new-found joy for life that accompanies his growing paternal instincts. But, the most dynamic element of this film is undeniably Gary Oldman's performance as a wildly sadistic and crooked DEA agent with his own narcotic-induced demons. His obsessions eventually lead him to the brink of absolute madness in his hunt for the cleaner. Truly, this is Oldman's finest performance to date, worthy of Oscar glory, though sadly forgotten. And so, Luc Besson did indeed top his triumph of "La Femme Nikita" by far with this masterpiece. Though, I cannot exactly praise his most recent effort with the sci-fi misfire, "The Fifth Element."
Mastery of Crime and Drama
Luc Besson's Leon is blessed with so many qualities that it not only excels in its crime-thriller genre but also in the general art of cinematography.

The french director stays simple in his brilliance, to deliver an intense but deeply human thriller. Filming is subtle and intelligent, with discreet special effects that give the movie a feel a realism. The composition is tight : the 110 minutes leave time to deliver a good plot, generous action and excellent character development.

This is achieved by the excellent actors portraying the three main characters. Gary Oldman expertly becomes the butchery obsessed, corrupt DEA agent. Natalie Portman is a revelation playing 12 year-old Mathilda. She shows the complexity of a strong charactered abandoned girl in a seemingly effortless performance. Jean Reno is extraordinary as Leon, the killer who lives a life of paradox, between the violence of his employment and his apparent naivety. The unlikely formation of a link between the two latter characters is the heart of the movie, where the young girl gives Leon a taste of life.

Leon is an exceptional film : combining suspense and drama, subtleness and brilliance, Luc Besson signs a masterful jewel of cinematography.
Favorite Movie of all-time (here is why)
I saw this movie in the theatre in 1994 and I really like it then, but at the time I wouldnt be able to tell you why. The next time I saw the movie was at home on TIVO, in December 2001 and I fell in love with the film all over again.

Firstly, the theme of the movie - Isolation and Redemption - The characters Leon and Mathilda had no one who loved them in this world and were very much alone (mathilda did have her 4 year old brother but that was all she had)The characters were dealing with a similar lonlieness even thought heir worlds were very different.

Secondly, the scripting in the film really hit me. When a bloodied, beaten Mathilda turns to Leon after meeting him only once or twice, she says to him "Is life always this hard or just when your a kid?" Leon pauses and his response to her was not what anyone would expect. The whole movie is well scripted and blows me away.

Thirdly, The cinematography is top notch. When Mathilda arrives at Leons door and she pleads to enter and when the door opens bathing her in light is simply breathtaking. The close-ups on the characters and the way the camera is held over their shoulder as they talk with each other really gives it a personal feel to allow you to empathise with the characters. I could go on about the cinematography more but I have more.

Fourth, the music by Eric Serra. I really enjoyed the music more and more with each viewing as I came to realize that the soundtrack was orchestrated specifically after each scene was filmed and then the music was designed to match what was happening on screen. Sometimes, I watch the movie and just pay close attention to the details in the music. It creates a whole new perspective.

Fifth, the acting and the casting. Jean Reno plays Leon so perfectly. You really can sense what the character is about. The soft spoken hitman who is like a child in many ways but extremely skilled at his job. Natalie Portman plays the street wise Mathilda who has to pull off one hell of a performance. Many say it is her best role and I agree. Much of the acting by both of these characters is done with simple facial expression. The dialogue between these two leaves you wanting to see more. Danny Aiello as Tony. Gotta love Tony. Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Its open to debate and thats the way it is intended. Gary Oldman as Stansfield - The bad cop - what can you say? he plays the role over the top and is perfect and nuts.

Sixth, Luc Besson, director, writer and visionary who saw the potential of this film and went for it. How could anyone expect a movie that has a hitman who protects a twelve year old girl who falls in love with him and wants to be trained as an assassin to be a great film? Luc and Co. realized the dre am and brought the right people on board to make this very special film. I am amazed that it even came to be. He rested 50% of the acting chores on a 12 yr. old girl with no acting lessons or experience - his film depended on her and he was a little worried, no doubt. But he showed her what he needed from her and she gave everything she had... and it shows.

All I can say is this movie is like a song that I never grow tired off. I know there are others who fell the same way. Feel free to email me and join the Leon fan club on yahoo. 10 out of 10, of course.

I have just watched it again for the 100th time...
There really is nothing I can say bad about this film. I have read the negative reviews in here and I am just left wondering how stupid these people must be. How do they not get it? Is it because there is too much emotion or connection with the characters or was the way it was expertly directed a problem? I always love a film that breaks the mould and gets away from cliché film scenes. I can remember watching this film years ago and I still love it as much today. The characters, the story and the whole damn way it is filmed.

I 100% recommend this for anyone who loves a film that isn't saturated in Hollywood filth. This is a highly recommended masterpiece.
A beautiful and disturbing piece of cinema
This is an extraordinary film, one of the rarities that successfully straddles the action and drama genres. A young girl from an abusive drug-dealing family approaches the smashed-in door of her apartment. Instinctively she realises that everyone has been murdered by the corrupt drug-squad officers standing at the door. Stifling her terror, she walks past to the door of another apartment and knocks on it as though it is her own home, praying that the strange neighbour will open the door and let her in… Luc Besson explores with great skill the unlikely relationship between Mathilde the 12-year old orphan and Leon: professional killer, immature loner and psychopath. Despite their apparent differences, the similarities are greater: Leon is childlike in many ways, whereas Mathilde (perhaps through necessity) demonstrates a ruthlessness that will give hardened criminals pause.

There is action a-plenty. At times it defies reality, although no more so than the action scenes in Lethal Weapon or Die Hard, and the character juxtaposition is way beyond what such films usually achieve.

Some of the negative reviews on this site are hard to believe: some don't like it because it depicts corrupt DEA agents (reality check people – every police agency has bad apples); others don't like it because it is said to push pedophilia (yet Besson goes out of his way to show that, despite having every opportunity, Leon firmly rejects any sexual relationship with Mathilde); others are disturbed by the thought that a 12-year old girl could contemplate revenge or seriously want to kill the men who murdered her little brother (again, sorry for the dose of reality but in some parts of the world children younger than this are soldiers, drug-dealers or worse); some reviewers are clearly disturbed by the "European" feel to the film (personal taste – I liked it).

The movie ends on a surprisingly optimistic note: Mathilde's wild proposal to work as an assassin is rejected by a horrified mafioso. Despite his amorality (and the obvious uses that someone in his position could find for her) he produces the money for her school fees and sends her packing. At school, she plants Leon's pet plant so that it can "put down roots" – a symbol that she herself is now going to do that, instead of the rootless life she has been living since the slaughter of her family.

Despite the violence and gore, the themes of the film are love (in the non-sexual sense), companionship and human need.
Where are the accolades?
This movie is rated 63 on the imdb top 250 movie list, showing that people obviously like this movie, and with good reason. But why the hell didn;t this movie garner at least one single oscar or golden globe nomination??

natalie portman's performance was terrific as the emotionally ravaged matildha - best actress nomination for sure.

jean reno should have been nominated for a best actor nomination. the fact that the audience is led to feel sympathy and sorrow for a hitman speaks words enough about his performance.

gary oldman is fantastic as the corrupt and psychotic cop. his character is so repulsive and chilling, but at the same time so quirky and interesting to watch. best supporting actor nomination.

luc besson. when this man will get some kudos for his work i never know. the professional, in my opinion, is his greatest achievement as a director and, considering the fact he has helmed classic cult films such as nikita and the fifth element, the professional must rate highly as one of the best films of the 90's atleast! best film and best director nominations should have been given.

but no, it was all too easy to heap praise on the feel good movie forrest gump, and shun the movie that, through its intensity and tragedy, better highlights the value of life and love.
i love mathilda
She was so pretty thats all what i watched...

I saw this movie because her ..

my feeling is also from her..

"because he killed my brother.... he never used to cry....."...

"But he's not really my father............. he's my lover.." very cute!! And Sting's Shape of my heart.. i cant say it by words..

this movie is best movie of my life...

The s.s redeption?? the Godfather?? no..

TO korean,, and at least to me...

This movie is best..

Sorry bad English ..
Violent and touching at the same time--a beautiful stylized gem
Leon the Professional (1994)

A tightly wrought, ironically charming (and no so ironically violet) caper about an accomplished assassin and a sweet girl. The assassin Leon is played with dry, raspy wit by Jean Reno. He's one of those guys who's "the best" without question, and who lives off the radar naturally. All he has is a suitcase and a potted plant in his small apartment. The girl, Mathilda, is played with a perfect combination of innocence and worldly savvy by Natalie Portman. When her family is wiped out by gangsters, she is taken in by the assassin, who happens to live next door.

The bad guys are led by Gary Oldman, who is a caricature of an evil thug gangleader. And behind the scenes in the middle of all his is the inimitable Danny Aiello in a small but important role. All of this weirdly makes sense, and the plot moves along with our growing concern for Mathilda, above all. And then for Leon, by extension.

So whether you call this a buddy movie or an over-the-top farce, it's so well connected, smoothly filmed, and forcefully acted it just feels and looks right. It's just superbly made.

Director and writer Luc Besson is a marvel, really, and anyone who has seen "La Femme Nikita" or "Fifth Element" knows that he can show imagination and style with edgy contemporary punch. He's the main example of the so-called "cinema du look" style of French movies, a kind of counter-balance in self-aware movie-making to Quentin Tarantino's more artificial style. Besson is essentially a writer first and director second, and he wrote all of these as well as the "Taken" movies that have recently been so successful both in France and here.

If some bloody violence doesn't put you off, add this to your must-see list.
Deeper than the descriptions
This movie has so many levels to it any description doesn't do it justice. The juxtapositions of what assassins should be concerned with, what little girls should be protected from, what evil men do to create chaos in this world, . . . Too many well-thought out interactions between characters to do the film justice with descriptive words. If you do not experience vile anger, compassion for killers, heart-felt paternal wishes to whisk this child from adult evil or the need to cheer ruthless revenge without guilt, then you are simply not human. The depth and presentation of these characters by excellent, superb acting is only overshadowed by the writing of this masterpiece.
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