I've seen Leon the Professional more times than I can remember; I went nuts when I found out one of my top five favorite films is out on Blu-Ray. Not only is this a hit man movie but when this came out it was a very controversial film - even watching it now, the scenes are still taboo. Just where exactly does Leon draw the line and how far would both of them have gone? There have always been two versions US theatrical version (1994) and "original" (1996); it's not director's cut but it is what was shown internationally. The US version had to be cut due to certain scenes leaving the higher ups and screener audiences feeling awkward about a pre-teen trying to woo an older man. The Blu-Ray comes with a couple of extras and commentary and I found these to be a short and easy watch.
Leon (Jean Reno) is a quiet guy who lives in an apt. building in Brooklyn, who we also learn is a top notch assassin (And I mean he's the best). He is seen coming in and out of the building many times during the day and is always buying milk. He seems to always walk by and exchange a few words with a little girl named Mathilda (Natalie Portman), who lives a few doors down. She seems to have a new bruise every day, from her father, who we also find out is holding drugs for a crooked detective and skimming some on the side for himself. The detective ends up killing Mathilda's whole family while she is out getting milk for her new friend Leon. She comes back from the Bodega and notices trouble at her place and walks right to his door keeping her composure. Leon has been watching the shooting from his door peephole and as she is standing there he is struggling with deciding to let her in. This is where the action and awkwardness begin. She falls in love with him and he does too…in a way. The movie is a great mix of action and drama; it's always been a great watch for me.
10 Years Retrospective: Cast and Crew Look Back – Is a chance for all involved to have their moment of nostalgia; I quite enjoyed it plus my sweetheart Natalie Portman was there. They even played a pretty good prank on her.
Jean Reno: The Road to Leon – A brief history of Jean and how he got himself into the role.
Natalie Portman: Starting Young – This is Natalie's first motion picture debut. It covers a similar history for her and how she landed the role.
Fact Track (Extended Version only) – I actually like how they did this commentary; a text that shows up on the bottom showing trivia and production details. It doesn't get in the way or you don't have to hear someone speak over something that you want to listen to.
Previews HD – Trailers for: Angels & Demons, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Da Vinci Code, District 9, Felon, Moon, and The Taking of Pelham 123, all in HD.
Sony BD-Live is also included and for those who don't know, BD-Live is portal via the internet that lets you download up to date content, exclusive peeks at the movie and new trailers. It's great for blu-ray enthusiast.
Leon the Professional Blu-Ray has a lot of good features that's short enough so you won't get bored with them. Like always, Blu-ray delivers great video (1080p Mpeg-4 with an aspect ratio 2.35:1) and strong accompanying acoustics (DTS-HD 5.1 Surround - English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, and Spanish subtitles). The acting in this film is solid; Jean Reno does an excellent job of making Leon a harsh killer while being emotionally slow. Doing this makes Leon look less creepy and naïve in a way; While Natalie Portman has the aggressive role of trying to win Leon's heart and being of more an adult role. The main villain, played by Gary Oldman was one of the best acting jobs of his career, if you really look at the detail he puts into his work, he really is a creepy bastard.
The only problem I have ever had with this movie is that Jean Reno mumbles through a lot of the key parts; it is part of his character but it's easy to get lost and have to rewind (I also take into account he really didn't speak well English at this time). Unfortunately, there was something missing in the extras like Photo slides, film trailers, and a few songs. I was hoping this would wrap up all the versions and variations with this Blu-Ray. It did unify almost everything; the missing pieces were just little add-ons, nothing I felt that took away from the experience.
All the details on Jean's face are so defined you can see all the way down to his pores.
I have never seen the extended version of Leon The Professional until now and I now know why those scenes were cut; it does make you feel a bit awkward and wonder what would have happened if it ended differently? Jean Reno has done great work and this is just another link in his masterpiece chain. As well, Natalie Portman is great in her debut. Overall, I really enjoyed watching Leon the Professional BD, it made the explosions more vivid and in the extended version, the character development puts the icing on the cake. I give this a TOV 5 out of 5.