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La Femme Nikita

Year: 1990
Production Co: Gaumont
Director: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Cast: Anne Parillaud, Tcheky Caro, Jean Reno
Realising that the 1993 US remake (The Assassin) was an almost shot-for-shot copy of this film meant watching it wasn't half the pleasure it should have been.

The only difference between the two is the French aren't afraid to portray nasty, evil characters as the protagonist. Even though Maggie (Bridget Fonda) blew away an innocent cop while high on dope, director John Badham was careful to make her seem more lovable throughout the rest of the movie.

Luc Besson takes no such pains with Nikita (Parillaud), depicting her as a contemptible, antisocial thug, not even bothering until halfway through the film to make her so sexy that we almost forgive her callousness.

When the titular heroine is arrested during a shootout as her no hoper boyfriend and his friends rob a store and duke it out with the cops, she's sentenced to death for her part in the bloodshed, but awakens to discover a top secret government agency has spirited her away to a bunker to give her a new identity and train her as an assassin.

The story - interspersed with the drama and action of the killings - is about her trying to mend her ways and lead a normal life, and about how she never truly can, hiding her real identity and her job from everyone, even the new boyfriend who makes her want to go on the straight and narrow.

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