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Léon_poster.JPG
Film poster for Léon (The Professional)

Léon (aka The Cleaner, aka The Professional) (1994) is a French film written and directed by Luc Besson, starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman and Natalie Portman. Léon is a common French first name (perhaps a mistake, given the character is supposed to be Italian).

Léon is to some extent an English-language variation on the theme of Besson's earlier film, Nikita. Besson has said he considers Jean Reno's character in Nikita (a cleaner) to be a 'cousin' of Léon.

Plot summary

In the film, Léon (played by Reno), a "cleaner" or professional assassin, saves the life of a twelve-year-old girl, Mathilda (played by Portman), after her family is killed by crooked DEA agents, and is obligated to take care of her. She tries to convince him to teach her his trade so she can avenge her family's murder; in return, she helps him with his house work, and may teach him a little humanity as well.

International Version

There is a version marketed in the US as the "International Version", which is also referred to as Version Intégrale, that has approximately twenty minutes of extra footage that was felt to be too risqué for mainstream US audiences. (This, however, was the version of the film released on DVD in North America in January 2005).

Luc Besson often releases his movies in extended versions, which are simply called version longue in France, and not version intégrale. They get a limited run in normal cinemas, in larger cities. The existence of an extended version does not mean that the original one was somehow censored. Extended versions are targeted at fans which enjoy a slower-paced show, Eric Serra's music and the general climate, like in The Big Blue. Léon was shown in France in the normal version, not in the international, intégrale or long cut. Similarly, small differences in movie durations, as accounted by the IMDb, do not necessarily result from the presence of censoring in the shorter version, as European television and video standards show movies slightly accelerated, shortening for example a two-hour movie by nearly five minutes; video labelling can reflect the actual duration rather than the cinematic one.

External links

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fr:Léon (film, 1994) nl:Léon (film) ja:レオン (映画) pl:Leon zawodowiec sk:Léon sv:Léon

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