La Femme Nikita (France 1990)

Rating: ***
Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Anne Parillaud, Tcheky Karyo, Jean Reno

Nikita (Anne Parillaud) is a street punk who gets sentenced to death for the murder of cop, but her death is faked and she's recruited by a top secret government agency and trained as an assassin. She manages to clean up her act and excel at her deadly skill, but yearns to break away from her perilous lifestyle when she finds a boyfriend. In a hit that goes terribly wrong, she manages to get away and fade into obscurity. A breakthrough for director Besson, it has been remade several times including the shot-for-shot Hollywood version "Point Of No Return" (1993), and Hong Kong's "Black Cat" (1991). However, something about the original just didn't gel with me. I didn't like Anne Parillaud as the lead. She's a fine actress and her performance is superb, but she seems too frail to handle the action scenes with confidence, and doesn't have the sex appeal that I would have attached to such a character. Basically, she's not tough or sexy - the two things I look for in any action actress. Let it be known that nearly everyone I know disagrees with me on this point.