‘La Femme Nikita’ Blu-ray Review
‘La Femme Nikita’ is director Luc Besson’s second release on the Blu-ray format this week along with ‘The Messenger’. Besson has been known over his career to infuse a distinct style in his films that makes for an eye popping experience. The film’s title is actually ‘Nikita’, but would be re-titled to ‘La Femme Nikita’ so there is no confusion that the lead character is a woman.
This has to be the most influential film in the 1990’s to come out of Europe. In 1990 Besson would garner some attention with ‘La Femme Nikita’ which years later would receive a television series on USA Network with Peta Wilson starring as Nikita. Then there would also be a U.S. remake of the film in 1993 titled ‘Point of No Return’ starring Bridget Fonda. This film is what spawned the female action star that we saw evolve over the last 2 decades.
The story of ‘Nikita’ isn’t anything over complicated; a strung out druggie by the name of Nikita (Anne Parillaud) is in the middle of a grocery store robbery which she is the only one to survive. The thing is that she killed a police officer during this robbery which ends up getting her locked up in jail and put on the death penalty. She is set for a lethal injection, except something else happens instead of death. She awakens only to notice that this group has taken her custody by a man known as Uncle Bob (Tchéky Karyo). This secret agency is a part of the French government that takes Nikita under their wing and trains her to be an assassin.
The problem with Nikita is that she is a loose cannon and it takes this group literally three years to get her properly trained with the help of Amande (Jeanne Moreau). Nikita would then be placed back into society with the mindset that she has a whole new meaning in life. Nikita meets Marco (Jean-Hugues Anglade) during her first assignment; she starts to fall in love with him. It takes several assignments for Nikita to realize what she has gotten herself into all these years.
‘La Femme Nikita’ is a great action film that puts the pedal to the metal from start to finish. Anne Parillaud does a great job in her role as Nikita. She brings the character to life throughout the film which is very well done. Tchéky Karyo also does a great job in his role. He has been type cast as a villain most of his career. Even though he isn’t one here in the film, Besson makes us perceive him in that light.
Movie Content: 4/5
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. ‘La Femme Nikita’ has been released twice on DVD already with one release in 1997 by Trimark/Pioneer and the second one by MGM in 2000. The Trimark transfer was horrible, but the MGM version fixed a lot of the issues. Colors look good, yet they aren’t vibrant. I can blame most of that to the original print source which was also problematic with the DVD’s. Blacks hold up very well and bold throughout the film. The other area which isn’t consistent is details. There are some scenes where details are excellent and others where it falters a bit when the camera pans away. There is also some subtle film grain which can get a bit heavier in some scenes than others. This is still a much better video presentation than what was offered on the previous two DVD releases.
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio is presented in both English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and French Dolby TrueHD mixes. There is a problem with the dialogue of the dubbed English track. It is very light and doesn’t sound too good until you raise the volume. I recommend viewing the film with the French TrueHD mix; you will notice a huge difference in audio quality. I have seen enough dubbed films in my time to understand that this is normal, but I just wish that it could have been fixed here with the high def release. Now that we have the dialogue issues out of the way, the soundfield is very well done. Sony has been on a tear lately with their catalogue titles giving them top quality dynamic range in the soundfield. Sound effects come out of the rears very good and make you feel as a part of the action.
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Come on Sony, this is a prolific release on Blu-ray at the most you could throw us a bone with a few commentaries or even trailers. With only Previews and the standard BD-Live option, this is a ridiculous. I find this as bad as Warner not having TrueHD track on all their Blu-ray releases instead giving us Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes.
Special Features: 0/5
The Final Word
‘La Femme Nikita’ is a very good action film that will keep you engaged from start to finish. I have seen this film many times over the years and have enjoyed the film with each viewing. My only complaints with this disc are the lack of Extras and the dialogue of the English track being so low. I recommend that you view this with the French track. This is a highly recommended action film to see what started the female action star phenomenon back in the 90’s. DVD owners upgrading to the Blu-ray version is a no brainer, but you may still want to hold on to your old discs for any special features.
Overall Rating: 3/5 (Purchase)