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Nikita
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Reviews & Ratings for
La Femme Nikita More at IMDbPro »Nikita (original title)

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115 out of 129 people found the following review useful:

Accept no substitutes

8/10
Author: Dennis Littrell from United States
9 July 2000

This, the French La Femme Nikita, directed by Luc Besson, is one of the strangest, most bizarre, yet psychologically truest movies ever made. The story on the surface is absurd and something you'd expect from a grade 'B' international intrigue thriller. Anne Parillaud plays Nikita, a bitter, drug-dependent, unsocialized child of the streets who is faster than a kung fu fighter and packs more punch than a Mike Tyson bite. She's killed some people and is given a choice between death and becoming an assassin for the French government.

This premise should lead to the usual action/adventure yarn, with lots of fists flying, guns going off, people jumping off of buildings, roaring through the streets in souped up vehicles, spraying bullets, etc., as blood flows and bones shatter. And something like that does happen. However there is a second level in which Nitika becomes the embodiment of something beyond an action adventure heroine. She is coerced and managed by society. Her individuality is beaten out of her so that she can be molded into what the society demands. She comes out of her 'training' with her individuality compromised, her free and natural spirit cowed, but undefeated and alive, and she sets out to do what she has been taught to do. And then she falls in love. And she notices, somewhere along the way, amid the murder and the mayhem, that there is something better than and more important than, and closer to her soul in this world than killing and being killed. She finds that she prefers love to hate, tenderness to brutality. She sees herself and who she is for the first time, but it is too late. She cannot escape. Or can she?

Parillaud brings a wild animal persona tinged with beauty and unself-conscious grace to the role of Nikita. Marc Duret plays Rico, the tender man she loves, and Tchéky Karyo is her mentor, Bob, whom she also loves. Jeanne Moreau, the legend, has a small part as Amande, who teaches Nikita lipstick application and how to be attractive.

Now compare this to the US remake called Point of No Return (1993), starring Bridget Fonda. (Please, do not even consider the vapid TV Nikita.) What's the difference? Well, Fonda's flashier, I suppose, but nowhere is there anything like the psychological depth and raw animal magnetism found in the original. The Fonda vehicle is simply a one-dimensional action flick stylishly done in a predictable manner. Besson's Nikita is a work of art that explores the human predicament and even suggests something close to salvation.

As always with a French film, get the subtitled version. The dubbing is always atrocious, and anyway there's really not that much dialogue.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

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113 out of 149 people found the following review useful:

This film is cooler than a fortnight in Antartica wearing a bikini, drinking chilled vodka with ice-packs strapped to your body.

10/10
Author: Dylan from Liverpool, UK
9 January 1999

Forget the awful series. Forget the even worse Hollywood remake 'The Assassin'. Remember Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita.

This has got to be one of the most stylish, moody and gripping films in existence. Luc Besson's direction is refreshing whilst the cinematography is simply stunning, particuarly the scene in the hotel where Nikita gets her first assignment. The soundtrack by Eric Serra is simply genius and actually adds something to the film...soundtracks usually seem to be an afterthought but refreshingly; not in this case.

The beautiful Anne Parillaud is perfect in the lead role (unlike Bridget Fonda) and the subtle romance between her and Tcheky Karyo is pure eloquence. The hugely talented Jean-Hughes Anglade (of Betty Blue fame) shines in this film but of all the male roles, Jean Reno (also fabulous in Luc Besson's Leon)is outstanding as the completely unbalanced Victor The Cleaner. Jeanne Moreau as Amande makes a notable appearence following years of contributions in countless films.

Luc Besson established himself as one of the leading innovative directors with this film and you can easily see why. This movie certainly rates among the top 10 films of all time.

I could pontificate about this film all day and all night but the best thing is for you to watch it yourself as a matter of priority...it is a 'must see'.

I'm off now to pursue a career in international assassinations.

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68 out of 83 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant, tense and artful

9/10
Author: mstomaso from Vulcan
6 May 2005

Anne Parillaud is phenomenal as a terrifyingly vulnerable, beautiful and human young anti-hero with an incredible talent for violence. A drug-addict murderous teen is given a second chance by a government agency looking to exploit her penchant for conscience-less killing. Mentored by a man whose compassion for her is only matched by his ambition and Machiavellian sadism, Nikita ventures on a roller-coaster ride leading a double-life as assassin and clean-living young woman in love. Her passionate affair with Marco and the clarity of her un-drugged consciousness, combine to promote the development of a conscience - a dangerous thing in her line of work. Nikita is, nevertheless, a victim of her circumstances, and like the rest of the characters on both sides, seems stuck in a very bad situation. In addition to the artistry with which this story is told, this film has a very nihilistic sense of justice and not-so-subtly points out the fact that state authorized murder is still murder.

Jean Reno fans will enjoy his brief typecast cameo as "the cleaner".

This is one of the best, if not the best, of Besson's films. It is extremely well paced, starkly and beautifully shot, and features some of the best acting and writing of the entire action genre. The script is just a little better in French than English. Nikita does not have the feel of an action film, but rather, feels like a fatalistic drama riddled with almost continuous tragedy and heartbreak, and spiced with just a tad of hope. Parillaud's multi-layered and complex construction of her character is so mesmerizing that it is frankly difficult to think of anything else while attempting to reflect on this film.

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54 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Parillaud Is THE Nikita

9/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
7 January 2006

This 1989 French film was justifiably so popular that an American re-make followed later and then a cable television series followed after that.

In this - the original - you see "Nikita" at its beginning and, most people agree, at her best. Anne Parillaud, an actress I've always found fascinating, is riveting as the lead character. Jean-Huges Anglade, Tcheky Karyo and Jean Reno provide a very strong supporting cast.

The characters were believable and it was refreshing to see a no-nonsense approach to a murder story, meaning if someone had to be killed, they were shot quickly with no questions asked. Some of the action scenes are brutal.

Parillaud's character is memorable. She can change appearances, from a hard- nosed hysterical animal to a real lady. It's also interesting to see Reno in a familiar role as a "cleaner," a role he made famous four years later in "Leon: The Professional."

The DVD provides either easy-to-read subtitles or a well-done dubbed version. If sound is important to you, you'll hear better stereo with the subtitled version.

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51 out of 66 people found the following review useful:

Femme Fatale

Author: Galina from Virginia, USA
8 September 2004

Welcome to the world where a woman can handle a gun and be as merciless and seemingly unemotional as any man. The anti- heroine, a woman named Nikita (Anne Parillaud in a performance of her life) is given a reprieve from a death sentence by government agents that want to use her as an undercover assassin. Stylish, ultraviolent, cynical but strangely engrossing - this is a must see for the fans of clever action movies.

Director Luc Besson somehow manages to keep a high level of energy and our interest - from the opening scene – a violent drugstore shootout until the very last moment.

Terrific cast include also Jean-Hughes Anglade (Queen Margot, Killing Zoe), Tcheky Karyo (Kiss of the Dragon, Addicted to Love 1997), Jeanne Moreau - the legend of the French cinema ("Jules and Jim", "Elevator to the Gallows", "Going Places"), and Jean Reno ("Leon", "Ronin")

Don't bother with the American remake (Bridgett Fonda) or TV series with the same title - see only original.

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34 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Exciting, romantic, and stylish!

8/10
Author: grendelkhan from Xanadu
27 September 2005

I fell in love with this film from the moment I first saw a brief clip of it on an entertainment program. At first I was drawn to the action elements (being young and somewhat immature in my dramatic tastes), but I was blown away by the romance and character interplay. I loved the composition of the scenes, the noirish lighting, and the quirky humor. This movie, along with Pedro Almodovar's films, really opened my eyes to European films, particularly those with a signature style.

The performances are great across the board. Anne Parillaud plays all facets of Nikita well, from her rebellious, drug-hazed beginning, to her growing confidence, and her near breakdown as her mission falls apart. Tcheky Karyo made a huge impression, mostly through his body language and his eyes. He says more with an expression than most actors do with dialogue. Jeanne Moraeu is a treasure, a truly beautiful woman in appearance and spirit. Jean-Hughues Anglade has the harder part, the "normal" guy who Nikita falls for. He is adept at comedy, but is tender in the love scenes. He carries himself well in his face-off with Bob. Finally, the actor who really stands out in memory, Jean Reno. Reno oozes charisma and talent, even in bad films. He steals the film the moment he enters.

Luc Besson is a tremendous stylist. His films are beautiful, even when the story is a bit obtuse. He is adept at using light to portray and enhance emotion and his compositions are stunning. His main fault is that he lets style overtake story, but he gets away with it because the style is always interesting. He is a fine writer, although more care seems to go into the scripts he directs than those he has written for others.

Finally, one can't discuss the films of Besson without discussing the music of Eric Serra. Serra creates an atmosphere that is much a part of the setting as the lighting or set decoration. His compositions convey mood and emotion, adding another layer to the story. His signature bass and percussion gets your heart pumping during action sequences, while the melodies bring a softness to intimate moments. He demonstrates the proper way to use synthesizers, to transform the music, rather than make up for lack of an orchestra (or talent). Serra's soundtracks were the first that I bought for instrumental music, rather than for pop songs used in the film.

This is a film that appeals to many audiences. There is plenty of action and intrigue for thrillseekers, unique character studies, quirky humor, and above all, romance. It has spawned many imitations (Point of No Return, Black Cat, Nikita TV series) but has never been equaled. If you are a fan of film noir, action/espionage, character drama, or romance, you should see this film; then you should own this film. You'll want to watch it again and again.

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18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

plenty of verve and style, and a (rightfully) perennial favorite of French spy thrillers

9/10
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
31 January 2008

Luc Besson was on a hot streak in the late 80s/early 90s, and La Femme Nikita (or just Nikita for short) is almost as good as he got at putting his own distinctive stamp on a genre that many auteurs have trouble molding. The spy thriller is great for blockbuster audiences, but to make it into a strong romantic drama is always tricky, as there's the chance for too much one-dimensional theatrics or more attention paid to the plot convolutions than actual human emotions. Nikita squares this problem away just with the protagonist: a young punk (Anne Parillaud, in her most recognizable, near star-making performance) who kills a cop in the midst of a shoot-out is sentenced to life, but then sort of resurrected following the lead of a member of a covert spy organization, and given an ultimatum: become a spy/assassin, or die. She complies, and in a few years time turns into Josephine, who gets orders on the outside from time to time to do tasks like dress up in a maid's outfit to serve potential targets, or to ready herself to kill someone long-range at a moment's notice.

Besson crafts his main story by creating a sort of love triangle between Nikita/Josephine/Marie, her boss Bob, and her conventional lover Marco, a grocery store cashier who doesn't know what she really does. Besson tools with the elements for a much more conventional thriller, and from time to time it could appear like La Femme Nikita will veer into that realm and not return. But Besson is smart; he crafts the first hour like a kind of 'Taming of the Shrew' saga (or 'Taming of a Shrill Bad-ass'), filled with juicy, dark humor ranging from the ultra-violent (pencil in the hand anyone?) to the silly and playful (training with karate instructors). And as pure director of action sequences Besson shows himself as one of the more distinct masters; it's succinctly fresh and tense while holding the ingredients for what mainstream audiences crave, chiefly in that centerpiece as she is told to kill someone on the night of a seemingly hot date with Bob. Even in the little things, like the scene where she watches the spy put together the concoction for the target in the hotel, works on the purest technical terms.

But La Femme Nikita, for the most part, also works on emotional levels too. Besson won't be above throwing in a hard-boiled killer in the midst (Jean Reno's Victor, my favorite supporting character if only for a few pivotal scenes, and a precursor to Leon), but he'll also subvert it just a tinge for good measure. I loved seeing when Josephine has to take out the woman in Venice, her shot in sight, and is moved to tears through the words that Marco speaks to her, truthfully, not in any terms that deem him as the boring "safe" character, but as her kind of salvation from a life that she's been forced into as a final alternative. As happens often in Besson's work, in fact, the female character is put into a realm of personal chaos that is created by or leads to murder and, at the least, harrowing times with the one she cares for or about (i.e. Portman in Leon, Leeloo in Fifth Element, Joan of Arc, even Angela in Angel-A). It's not simply a gimmick in having the character be a woman- it's essential to Besson's track as a filmmaker, and Praillaud is excellent for the sort of ups and downs the character goes through, sometimes in the same scene!

This isn't to say there are a few minor liabilities, if only from my perspective: the music is usually effective in that early electronic-techno beat style for a modern thriller, yet sometimes it's also a cross between a soft-core porn and Weather channel muzak; the ending felt abrupt, or at least on a first viewing (albeit it's hard to top the scene at the ambassador's HQ); and, as a minor criticism, what happened to showing how Nikita learns how to smile? (Seems a little crucial as something of her personality that's skipped over, when made to seem like a big stepping stone by Jeanne Moreau's enigmatic character.) Otherwise, a must-see, and one of Besson's best films.

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24 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Might be a little slow, but what a ride!

7/10
Author: Stibbert from Norway
6 October 2005

The convicted cop-killer is "kidnapped" by a government agency to be given one new chance. Only this time she is to become a trained spy and assassin.

Luc Besson sure know how to fill a film with passion, humanity and action. This is a truly beautiful movie. It is a rather slow movie compared to your typical Hollywood movie, but then again the story and characters are also stronger. You get hooked and the movie is finished before you know it.

The story is strong. It's cool, original and intriguing, yet it's simple and not hard to keep track of. You really get caught up with it. It has elements of all genre. It's got action, love and passion, drama, thriller and even some comedy in it. It's kind of a dark story, yet there are lot of funny elements to light it up a bit. Not much, just as much as it needs.

The actors are great. Anne Parillaud does a great job as Nikita. She makes a psycho-like character that you, in the beginning, don't really like much, but through out the movie her real personality is revealed. At the end you won't let go of her. The rest of the cast is also truly great. Jean Reno has a small, yet very nice part. I found his character really funny. The way he just barge into the story.

Eric Serra has given the movie a nice score. It supports the story, but may seem a little late 80's every now and then, but never the less it sounds good. It is passionate when needed and suspense when called for.

You won't get disappointed of cinematography. It's simply beautiful. You can just sit back and enjoy the shots. Nice contrasts and nice composition and the use of wide angle lenses are really cool. The lightning is good as well. It's all really enjoyable.

This movie has something for everyone. It's not a guy movie or a girl movie. It's not a adult movie or a teenage movie. This is simply a movie for everyone who enjoys good movies! I can, with no doubt, give this movie my recommendations.

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17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Twenty years have done nothing to diminish this solid action-drama.

7/10
Author: lewiskendell from United States
22 August 2010

"You could say I work...for the government. We've decided to give you another chance."

I've been wanting to see La Femma Nikita for ages, as I used to be quite the fan of the TV show based on it when I was a kid. It's nice to be able to say that the movie was just as exciting and entertaining as I remember the show being.

The plot is about a young drug addict who kills a cop when she and some guys are caught robbing a pharmacy. The French government fakes her death, and she's given little alternative but to join a training program to become an agent in the government's employ. The stress of living a violent life that she doesn't want and having to keep it secret from her fiancé eventually becomes too much for her to cope with.

La Femme Nikita has several impressive action sequences, but it's more than just an action movie. Nikita transforms over the course of the story from a drugged-up junkie with nothing to live for to a capable and dangerous woman who wants control over her own life.

All in all I thought La Femme Nikita was a solid blend of assassination and drama. The heroine is probably one of the most interesting female action protagonists ever put up on the big screen, and it's hard to overstate the impact Nikita has had on other female protagonists in these kinds of movies in the last twenty years. Recommended.

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

French thriller finely directed by Luc Besson about a violent junkie who becomes undercover assassin

7/10
Author: ma-cortes
23 June 2011

Exciting and stirring movie that is remade in American style by John Badham (1993) . A gang of armed drug-addicts break into a shop to try and steal drugs to fuel their habit and then takes place a bloody tour of force . However, the police arrive too fast and all addicts but one are killed .The hardened criminal (Anne Parillaud , role subsequently played by Bridget Fonda) , a punk-junkie sociopath acts with consistence violence, even in police custody and is given a life sentence .But after being drugged by her captors she wakes up to find that she has been spared in order to train her as a government assassin . However, top-secret agency official (a Svengali alike ,Tcheky Karyo , character interpreted in the American version by Gabriel Byrne))arranges a stage , so she can be elaborately trained as phantom killer and subdued into obedience. After a dramatic transformation, she is allowed to leave and start a new life for herself .On her eventual release she turns into a sophisticated girl thanks to an old lady (Jeanne Moreau , role also acted by Anne Bancroft) . As a cover, she gets a new identity . And with a wonderful house-mate, a broad-minded, gentle boyfriend (Jean Hugues Anglade , posteriorly performed by Dermot Mulroney) . The two fall in love, but that complicates jobs. His good influence extends to breeding her a conscience that puts love over business, alas unlike agency. However, she begins to discover that there is more to life than she previously thought and soon begins to wish she could escape from her obligation. But the government aren't so easy to evade .

This exciting noir-thriller is packed with thrills , tension , suspense and lots of noisy action .From the start to the ending the action pace is fast moving, provides fast and furious entertainment with spectacular scenes. Displays nonstop action and is extremely entertaining and thrilling . Some scenes are brutal and with a load of violence. Still it's a good movie, I think furthermore the incredible chemistry between Parillaud and Karyo ,the plot was moving and intense , it makes you want to know what happens after . Anne Parillaud is pretty good as the heroine who turns in violent tendencies to patriotic use , both as the anti-social rebel of the early scenes and the sophisticated, seductive young lady of the later ones . It benefits enormously from a memorably assured performances from veteran as Jeanne Moreau , Jean Reno , Philippe Leroy and Jean Bouise whom is dedicated the movie . Atmospheric musical score by Eric Serra , though with excessive use of synthesizer . Colorful cinematography by Thierry Arbogast and perfectly remastered . The motion picture is lavishly produced and well directed by Luc Besson with his ordinary visual pyrotechnics . He often casts Jean Reno and music always by Eric Serra. Besson is the greatest producer and director from France with hits as ¨Leon¨ , ¨Joan of Arc¨ , ¨The fifth element¨ , the ¨Taxi¨ series , ¨Big blue¨ , ¨Arthur and the Minimois¨ , of course ¨Nikita¨ and many others .

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