La Femme Nikita - 4K Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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La Femme Nikita


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Movie: :4.5stars:
4K Video: :4.5stars:
Video:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras:
Final Score: :4stars:




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Movie

While Luc Besson may best be known in North America for his sci-fi blockbuster The Fifth Element or Leon: The Professional, one my favorite entries in his film repertoire has to be 1990’s La Femme Nikita, a stylized female led action film (before Jennifer Lawrence became the first female action lead ever) that spawned a 1993 Hollywood remake known as Point of No Return and a TV series in 1997, only to be reimagined as a NEW TV show starring Maggie Q. in the early 2000s. It was sharp, brutal, and actually had a more raw and emotional feeling than the Hollywood remake, and outside of a 110 lb girl weilding a .50 cal Desert Eagle one handed, a fairly believable take on the female action star.

Our film opens up with her protagonist Nikia (Anne Parillaud) and her junkie friends robbing a small shop in France in order to get their next fix. Unfortunately for them, the proprietor calls the cops on them, resulting with a gun battle between the strung out junkies and the officers, leaving only Nikita alive to stand trial for the mayhem. After being sent to prison where she is publicly “executed, Nikita wakes up to find out that her death was staged by the French Government, who sends mysterious agent “Bob” (Tcheky Karyo) to recruit Nikita (with the threat that if she doesn’t become a government asset, she WOULD be executed for real) into becoming a covert operative for them.

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La Femme Nikita is less of a Hollywood style blockbuster with some massive reveal at the end, or some massive endgame for Nikita. Instead Besson chronicle’s Nikita’s rise up the ranks from a brash and strung out junkie, to a capable assassin who can kill for the government with ease. But instead of having some massive villain for her to face off against in the final act, the real conflict is within Nikita herself. Besson does an absolutely fabulous job humanizing Nikita past the of role of junkie or paid assassin. Instead he focuses on her inner turmoil over what she’s become, and what she once was. She’s actually a real person, and the weights of all the government killings she’s doing is just too much for her, which sets up the final “escape” at the end to feel that much more natural rather than a plot device. Nikita IS a human character, with feelings, desires, the want for love, but also burdened with the knowledge that she was saved from death by the same agency who is slowly killing her soul.

As such, I would describe La Femme Nikita to be a highly introspective take on the action genre. Besson mixes in high octane shootouts (and the inclusion of fan favorite Jean Reno as the psychotic cleaner near the end is amazing) with a gritty and very personal look at Nikita’s tenuous grasp on humanity. Comparing it directly against 1993’s Point of No Return (which is weirdly nearly a word for word remake of La Femme Nikita at times) shows a start difference in points of view on Nikta, as well as the differences between Hollywood productions and Besson’s native French production. Nikita is more gritty and visceral, with a more raw take on Nikita herself. Bridgette Fonda does a great job in Hollywood sort of way, but things are way too polished and way too “Hollywood Blockbuster” to really capture the brutality and tortured character of Nikita herself the way Besson did.




Rating:

Rated R by the MPAA




4K Video: :5stars: Video:
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Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, coming from the guy who has owned every release of the film (domestically) since the VHS days, I can absolutely give my seal of approval on this release, as this is the best it has ever looked to my eyes. Sony has has done a bang up job with the new 4K remaster, leaving all of that lovely 1990s style grit and grain present for the final 4K presentation instead of scrubbing it all away (looking at you Paramount). Comparing directly against the old Sony Blu-ray this is a fairly substantial upgrade. Colors are bolder and more natural, with a rich depth to it that just isn’t present in the 1080p version. The blue/gray color grading is a bit deeper to my eyes, but overall the general aesthetic to the image hasn’t changed. The inclusion of Dolby Vision brings some depth to the darker scenes (such as the end embassy shootout) as well as a richness to the grungy look of France in the film.








Audio: :4stars:
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Judging by comparing the two tracks side by side, the 5.1 mix appears to simply be a DTS-HD MA repackage of Sony’s 5.1 Dolby TrueHD tracks from the original Blu-rays (although a slight level boost is noticed on the newer DTS-HD MA track) This is going to be a good thing, and a slight disappointment as Nikita’s 5.1 mix has never been jaw dropping. Good thing is that we get the English and French dubs in their 5.1 originality, as well as a 2.0 theatrical mix as well. My only complaint is that the track has always been a bit flat and reserved in the 5.1 mix. It’s really a 3.0 mix with some mild surround usage and a few bumps in the bass channel every once in a while. But not shocking, as that’s always how Besson remixed his original theatrical mix for home theater. It’s a forward heavy track with strong dialog and the action bits blended into the mains rather than some bass bomb, surround heavy mix. Technically, this is a solid upmix, but not going to be one that blows you away.







Extras:
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Final Score: :4stars:


La Femme Nikita is an absolutely amazing classic 1990s action movie, and one of the best female characters that I’ve seen in action as well. Anne Parillaud knocked it out of the park portraying the multiple facets of the young killer’s personality, as well as her own personal growth and absolution near the end. Sony’s 4K UHD looks absolutely stunning, with a brand new 4K remaster that really perfects the gritty looking action flick as much as it can. My only complaints is that Sony decided to release this as a barebones disc, with no extras and and simply the 5.1 mix from the Blu-ray. The steelbook itself looks great, but part of me really wished for a true collector’s edition with that fantastic Besson commentary at least. Still, this is a great looking disc, with a HUGE upgrade in the video department, and a snazzy steelbook, so I’m happy. Great watch.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Anne Parillaud, Marc Duret, Patrick Fontana, Tcheky Karyo
Directed by: Luc Besson
Written by: Luc Besson
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: French: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, English
Studio: Sony Pictures
Rated: R
Runtime: 117 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: June 11th, 2024
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Recommendation: Great Watch

 
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