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Léon: The Professional (1994)
"Léon" (original title)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  18 November 1994 (USA)
Your rating:
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Ratings: 8.6/10 from 651,914 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 813 user | 147 critic | 12 from

Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin's trade.



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Top 250 Movies #27 | 3 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Willi One Blood ...
1st Stansfield Man (as Willie One Blood)
Keith A. Glascoe ...
Randolph Scott ...
Carl J. Matusovich ...
Lucius Wyatt Cherokee ...
Tonto (as Lucius Wyatt 'Cherokee')


After her father 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 house of a professional murderer who by her request, teaches her the methods of his job so she can take her revenge from the corrupted DEA agent who ruined her life by killing her brother out of no actual reason. Written by J. S. Golden

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Revenge is a tough game, even for a Professional (Australia) See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for scenes of strong graphic violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

18 November 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Léon: The Professional  »

Box Office


FRF 115,000,000 (estimated)


JPY 112,586,900 (Japan) (3 January 1997)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (uncut) | (International)

Sound Mix:

| (8 channels)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This is Natalie Portman's motion picture debut. She was 11 when she was cast. See more »


When the fat man calls the cops, the antenna on the phone is longer than when Leon is behind him. See more »


[first lines]
Tony: Allora, come stai, Leone?
Léon: Bene.
[Tony puts out his cigarette in an ashtray]
Tony: OK. OK. Let's talk business.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Under the "SPECIAL THANKS" heading you will find: Chevalier KAMEN (Prince of the Mash Potatoes) Byblos Bill (King of Saint Tropez) Princess Trudy (Queen of Hearts) See more »


Referenced in Point Blank (1998) See more »


Happy Birthday
Written by Mildred J. Hill and Patty S. Hill (as Patty Hill)
Performed by Natalie Portman (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

29 March 2004 | by ( – See all my reviews

I have long thought that owning films on DVD or video is a waste of money - you watch them once and after that they are left to fester at the back of a cupboard. Occasionally I make an exception - some films simply cannot be fully appreciated on just one viewing. Every time I watch Leon is as gripping and enjoyable as the first. Sad, funny, violent, incredibly touching - few films manage to tick all the boxes and even fewer are about hitmen.

It obviously helps when your leading man has as much screen presence as Jean Reno. Thin and wiry with toilet brush hair and a face like a bag of spanners, he is hardly your typical gun-toting action hero, but he has an innocence and compassion that makes you fall for him instantly. Leon's life is as simple as a small child's: TV, lashings of milk and the odd gangland assassination. He cannot read, he doesn't sleep, he hasn't the trappings of family or wealth (the fees for his hits are habitually trousered by his `benefactor': sleazy small-time Italian gangster Tony (Danny Aiello)) - In short, he lives like a robot. And then he meets Mathilda.

Normally I can't stand Hollywood kids. They are all doey-eyed, bouffant-haired brats who can cry on cue and are always ready with a cutesy, smart-alec comment that will cause their adult co-stars to tinkle with laughter or tousle their hair playfully. Often they are kidnapped and huge ransoms demanded while their parents go demented with worry. I for one am usually rooting for the kidnappers.

Natalie Portman's Mathilda is the antithesis of these namby-pamby Dawson's Creek actors-in-waiting. For starters, she has something justifiable to gripe about, in that her entire family has just been slaughtered by Gary Oldman and his gang of crooked DEA officers. This is a bit of a blow, to say the least, but Mathilda takes it all in her stride and teams up with Leon in a bid for revenge. So begins one of the stranger relationships in silver screen history, but one of the most memorable.

On the face of it, a love story between a twelve year old girl and a hairy French hitman would raise a few eyebrows among more conservative movie-goers, but director Luc Besson handles it so beautifully, it seems like the most natural thing on earth. They are united in being totally alone in the world - indeed, the scene where Mathilda walks quietly down the corridor past the carnage in her apartment and knocks on Leon's door, imploring him in a tearful whisper to let her in is as breathtaking as it is heartbreaking. Leon is wary at first, but she soon wins him round and starts to gently bring him out of the shell.

Portman is truly astonishing - one can almost forgive her for being a part of the appalling Star Wars prequels on the strength of this one performance. The iconic image of this tiny, grubby little girl clutching Leon's beloved plant and trotting to keep up with her lanky hero's giant strides is one that will live long in the memory.

Aiello and Oldman (at his sadistic, malevolent best) provide predictably excellent support, there is a wonderfully suspenseful yet satisfying ending

  • heck, there's even a decent Sting song playing over the credits - for

this (if nothing else) it would be remiss of me to give Leon anything other than top marks.


181 of 202 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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