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‘La Femme Nikita’ 4K UHD (Blu-ray review)

Sony Pictures

 

I first saw Luc Besson’s Le Femme Nikita in 1992 during my second year of college.

It was one of a dozen or so films that I saw during my 4 years there that would not only change the trajectory of my film career but it would also be a part of a host of films that would go on to completely alter the Hollywood system entirely.

It was also the first of Besson’s “badass women who can kick your ass” films, whether it be with guns, martial arts, or their mind.

Sometimes all three. And was and still am here for it. Though as time went on, they became more and more derivative and less and less interesting.

However, I absolutely loved this film.

It was one of over a dozen films I watched over and over while at film school, and then again and again through the 90’s and beyond.

I hadn’t revisited it in probably 10 or so years. I jumped at the chance to give this stylish action thriller another go with it’s release on 4K UHD

It still holds up and it looks as gorgeous as ever.

La Femme Nikita follows the titular character, perfectly played by Anne Parillaud, as she transforms from gang junkie convicted of murdering multiple police officers and is sentenced to death to government trained “sleeper” assassin. Her new life is in forever turmoil as she is torn both emotionally and mentally apart between her new “normal” life and her “secret” life as a government pawn. Nikita’s journey is harrowing, engrossing, and action packed.

I have always thought Nikita is one of Besson’s best films. Having seen both of his previous films, Subway (1985) and The Big Blue (1988), (Thank you Cinemax’s “Vanguard Cinema”). I was aware of and loved Luc Besson’s films and knew it would be a visual feast for the eyes. I had no idea though what I was about to feast my eyes upon. Not really. How could I?

This film blew my mind. It is so beautifully photographed by Thierry Arbogast, who would go on to be Besson’s primary cinematographer.I fell in love with the visuals of this film.

’s slick neo-noir style, kinetic camerawork, and gorgeous lighting set the stage for so many films to follow for decades to come.

La Femme Nikita, though, for me, is the last time that Besson was able to make a more intimate film. This film is such great film noir and noir needs intimacy and intrigue. This film has both in spades. I am a sucker for a well told noir.

La Femme Nikita is and was Film Noir for the MTV Generation. Man, those are words I never thought I would say not sarcastically. Oof, How the times they are a changin’.

In La Femme Nikita, Besson has much more care taken to make smart, well rounded but broken characters that you sympathize with. Even as simple as some of them are, they just feel more fleshed out and you care about them.

A perfect example is film legend Jeanne Moreau’s perfect cameo as Nikita’s etiquette teacher who teaches her how to weaponize her femininity to disarm people. She probably has less than 5 mins of screen time and still her character is intriguing and I knew everything I needed to know about her in those precious few minutes.

La Femme Nikita (1990), his follow up film Léon: The Professional (1994), where he seemingly was able to capture lightning in a bottle, which I also love, and his mind blowing sci-fi extravaganza, The Fifth Element (1997) are such an amazing trifecta of films. These films are really Besson in his prime.

This 4k Blu-ray is such a great example of what the medium is capable of when it is done properly. Having owned the Laserdisc, the DVD, and the HD Blu-ray I can honestly say that this is the best this film has ever looked. The new color grade and the preservation of film grain and textures really makes those rich blacks and dynamic colors blue stand out, keeping Besson and Arbogast’s intentions intact.

The audio is more immersive than ever and the action envelops you as gunshots and explosions erupt on screen. Even more impressive are those previously mentioned intimate scenes that are more romantic and special, enhancing the juxtaposition of the frenetic nature of the action around them. Dialogue is clear and the soundtrack and sound effects don’t drown out their words. Top notch sound engineering all around.

I highly recommend this release for fans and newcomers equally. If you have seen this film before Watch it again anew. If this is your first time screening this 90’s action-thriller gem then hold on and enjoy the ride.

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