- 4K Disc Released
- December, 2017
- HDR10 | Dolby Vision
- Sound MIx
- Dolby Digital | SDDS (8 channels) | Dolby | SDDS | DTS
- Aspect Ratio
- 2.39 : 1
- IMDB Rating
Leon: The Professional, here Leon is a French word and is titled in the UK and Australia. Originally titled The Professional in the US is a 1994 action crime thriller film which is written and directed by Luc Besson. The movie stars Jean Reno and Gary Oldman and further depicts the motion picture debut of Natalie Portman. In this film, Leon, whose role is played by Reno, a professional hitman, hesitantly accommodates a 12-year-old Mathilda (Portman). Leon takes in Mathilda after her family is murdered by corrupt Drug Enforcement Administration agent Norman Stanfield, whose role is entrusted to Oldman. Leon and Mathilda start to form an unwanted relationship, as she becomes his apprentice and learns his trade.
Luc Besson made his debut in the US through this action-thriller drama that is undoubtedly a modern classic.
Luc Besson gaining popularity and respect for all his stylish French productions made the leap with Leon, a French co-production. Besson could bring in his go-to actor of choice, Jean Reno, who starred in all his previous movies and make him lead the role as a titular hitman. The hitman character was borne from Reno’s previous cameo in Besson’s prodigious Nikita. There introduced his tough French ‘cleaner’, Victor, abounding with the same brusque, quintessential professional attitude and the same look, wearing a hat and that distinctive coat, and round sunglasses. It was quite a challenge to cast a French actor in the lead of the film, which is practically unknown in the US. Apart from the visual flair and exquisite to the production the film was comparatively modestly-budgeted creation which somewhat stood out in Besson’s eye, comic book sensibilities, colorful performances and that very signature score from long-term Besson composer Eric Serra.
Western discernments found the story controversial, especially in its US cut which got more chaste that insinuated an unspoken relationship between the characters. It shows Leon’s trained assassin, a recluse, child-like soul, bound to take in Mathilda (Natalie Portman, making a storming debut), a 12-year-old, following a brutal assault by corrupt DEA agent Stansfield (Gary Oldman) leaving her an orphan. The events that play out are both unbridled and unusual; tense and tragic, endearing you to this rare Bonnie-and-Clyde pair as they fight their nemesis, and bringing you to the peak of emotional crescendo by the end of it. There are handfuls of films – both before and since – that have managed to be this stylish and this emotional, particularly in the oft-dismissed action genre where Leon seemingly prevails. Nevertheless, the restrictions of this clear genre need to be redefined; as improbable as it seemed at the time, this took a form of masterpiece.
Storyline (Reviewer’s Take):
French auteur Luc Besson achieved international approbation for ‘La Femme Nikita,’ it was a sci-fi smash at the box office. ‘The Fifth Element,’ and a contribution in making Jason Statham into an action leading man with ‘Transporter’ but for some ‘Leon: The Professional’ will be at the top list. The film is at its finest along with other attributes of being brutal, beautiful and controversial, exclusively produced by Besson. If there is any best assassin in the city, then that is Leon, whose routine, order and simplicity have shaped up his way of living. Undoubtedly being a skilled killer machine does bring some major drawback that is Leon is not a ‘people person.’ Apart from tony and short-lived clients, Leon has very little human contact as he keeps himself secluded. Having a best friend who is his houseplant, it means there is no room for argument that social skills are not just his specialty. When a drug deal in the apartment goes nasty, Leon’s simplistic lifestyle suddenly takes a complex turn. A psychotic lunatic, whose role is starred by Gary Oldman, massacred the family leaving behind a 12-year-old girl orphaned. Leon then steps in to offer Mathilda (the 12-year-old girl) haven and in the process invites a heap of trouble. Mathilda after knowing what Leon exactly does for a living, she wishes to become his disciple and have her revenge to the one who brought her to this state. Mathilda’s pain and persistence finally weakened Leon’s defenses, and soon Mathilda could make her place under Leon’s wing and also into his heart.
‘Leon: The Professional’ does share some similarities with ‘Nikita,’ but Besson’s competence could give the tale entirely a class of itself. It is hard not to get completely captivated by this film as is every scene is virtually staged with ingenuity and grace. Besson not only has the ability to get a good hold of his audience’s attention but he is capable of make them go restless with suspense. The morality envelops that is presented in the film is that a pre-teen being trained to kill in cold blood, which is the backbone of the plot here. Besson tries to give a further look at the relationship between Leon and Mathilda which is surrounded by clouds of gray. One of the most unique love stories ever told. Leon and Mathilda’s screen time together is appealing though it starts getting down to a disturbing path. It did cross its line according to some viewers, but Besson’s objective was to create some tension and nervousness among them, where he was successful enough to score this goal. The film consists of three indelible performances that provide a great deal of depth. Reno seized to be at the top of this game, where he carries two different personalities of his character with proficiency and accuracy. Leon is experienced and confident in the “serious” mode, but changes to a shy and timid person outside of his comfort zone. On the other hand, there is Gary Oldman as the villain Stansfield, who does not steal the show but he fulfills his role with Great Spirit. Last but not least is the Natalie Portman, who delivers such an engaging performance in her debut film that it’s utterly fantastic.
The 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray:
For the second time ‘Leon: The Professional’ goes back to its Blu-ray as a part of Sony’s new Supreme Cinema Series. It possesses a new 4K master along with an all-new Dolby Atmos sound mix. This one-disc edition is contained in a standard Blu-ray case, is Region A locked, that comprises a Digital HD Ultraviolet copy (redemption code expires 12/31/18), and propose no forced trailers before the main menu. This deliverance includes both the Theatrical and Extended Versions of the film.
Picture Quality: 4 out of 5 stars
Leon was apprised of a 4K remaster before its 4K remastered Blu-ray re-release shot on 35mm. The same source has been used to design the Ultra HD Blu-ray release, and the end product is a native 4K release. To gain the rich purity of classic cinematography, natural grain is used even though it might look like noise. It delivers a beautiful texture and looks stunning in the go. The colorful characters shown undoubtedly became more vivid and iconic in their comic book world. The end product is just a reference masterpiece. Talk about the many details provided starting from the landscape to weathered clothing to bloody faces to weapons are brilliantly portrayed in the latest Ultra HD Blu-ray release. It set a benchmark and a new standard in the level of texture and clarity. The implementation of HDR and WCG is narrow, but some shots seem to be more beautifully pictured than others. Some softness is seen, but usually, the images are sharp with attractive depths. However, there is also some lacking in areas where the lighting was poor.
In short, Leon is in the US Best Buy exclusive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray which is introduced in 3840 x 2160p in a widescreen 2.39:1 aspect ratio, using 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec.
Audio Quality: 4 out of 5 stars
Leon’s extraordinary success and perfection as a film go beyond with its presentation of a brilliant soundtrack, furnished in Dolby Atmos (same as available on the previous release) built upon a fabulous and already reference-quality Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core which accomplishes the version’s achieved the status of pure AV ecstasy. It is quite impossible not to get addicted to the audio-visual presented here along with the script play, performance and the emotions attached. Talk about the murmurs, load accents, shotguns, grenades, rifles, wheezed grunts and roars, everything has been done with perfect accuracy and coverage. It is highly likely to be said that the audio defines who Leon is. The usage of LFE cues gave life to the most unlikely objects like Leon’s glass of milk along with the atmospheric linings.
Special Features: 2 out of 5 stars
Sony released the 4k UHD version of the movie without any new addition of special features. The disc includes all the extras from the standard Blu-ray disc. There is a 10 year overview retrospective in Cast and Crew Look Back (25 minutes), and two great retrospective Interviews – Jean Reno: The Road to Leon (12 minutes) and Natalie Portman: Starting Young (13 minutes) along with a Fast Track which is available on the Extended Version of the film. By way of seamless branching, the extended cut is made available on the Ultra HD Blu-ray as the biggest extra available watchable on both discs.
The Final Verdict:
‘Leon: The Professional ‘remains fun to watch till today with its gripping character drama combined with action thriller elements, mind-blowing performances, and zestful filmmaking. The 4k UHD provided by Sony has excellent audio and video quality along with a satisfying amount of special features. The disc is worth holding on to as the movie could become a classic one day.