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Léon: The Professional (1994)

Léon (original title)
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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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Willi One Blood ...
1st Stansfield Man (as Willie One Blood)
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Keith A. Glascoe ...
Randolph Scott ...
4th Stansfield man
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Carl J. Matusovich ...
...
Lucius Wyatt Cherokee ...
Tonto (as Lucius Wyatt 'Cherokee')
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Storyline

After her father, mother, older sister 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 apartment of a professional hitman who at her request teaches her the methods of his job so she can take her revenge on the corrupt DEA agent who ruined her life by killing her beloved brother. Written by J. S. Golden

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

18 November 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Léon: The Professional  »

Box Office

Budget:

FRF 115,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,306,558 (USA) (20 November 1994)

Gross:

$19,501,238 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (uncut) | (International)

Sound Mix:

| (8 channels)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jean Reno and Natalie Portman weren't allowed to rehearse the controversial scene where Mathilda puts on a dress given to her by Leon. As Reno puts it in the film's DVD commentary, it's "the beginning of the perversity." Reno often asked Luc Besson when they would read the part, and Besson would avoid the question. Not being able to read the scene helped Besson and his cast genuinely capture the awkwardness the characters felt at that moment. "[Léon and Mathilda's] relationship was very connected and very strange," Reno concluded. See more »

Goofs

When Mathilda confesses her love for Leon, she's laying on the bed and her fanned hair changes. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Referenced in Hot Fuzz (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

I Like Myself
from It's Always Fair Weather (1955)
Music by André Previn
Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Performed by Gene Kelly (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Masterful
29 March 2004 | by (http://www.amateurscribe.webeden.co.uk) – 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.

10/10


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