La Femme Nikita appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This new release seemed to present a different transfer than the original DVD from 2000, but it didn’t appear to improve on that one.
Sharpness mostly looked good but could be a little loose at times. Most of the movie came across as tight and distinct, but occasional exceptions occurred. Wide shots tended to look a bit soft, mostly because the DVD suffered from some moderate edge enhancement. It also presented various examples of shimmering and jagged edges, and it sometimes seemed a little blocky and pixelated.
Those areas appeared worse than what I recalled from the old DVD, but at least the new one improved in another realm: print flaws. Both looked fairly grainy at times, but I believe those issues stemmed from the original photography. The new Nikita lacked the mild speckles and grit I saw during the original one, as this DVD looked surprisingly free from defects.
Colors looked largely solid, with clear and accurate hues on display. Red lettering during the credits came across as somewhat runny, but hues in the body of the film were acceptably tight. Black levels seemed deep and dense with good contrast, and shadow detail was appropriately dark without any excessive heaviness. The transfer of the Nikita special edition presented more flaws than I’d like, but it mostly looked very good.
One definite improvement between the two La Femme Nikita DVDs stemmed from the new one’s Dolby Digital 5.1. The original disc offered 5.1 only for the dubbed English mix; the original French track used Dolby Surround 2.0, and it lacked the same punch I heard from the 5.1 version. Happily, the special edition finally presented the French audio in 5.1, and it seemed noticeably stronger.
The soundfield didn’t appear terribly broad, but it opened up fairly well. The front speakers played the most significant part as they offered pretty positive stereo imaging for music. They also tossed in good effects as appropriate. The various elements sounded accurately located and they meshed together reasonably well. As for the surrounds, they weren’t terribly active, as they mostly reinforced music and effects. Nonetheless, they added a decent sense of dimensionality to the piece.
Because I don’t speak French, I couldn’t judge the intelligibility of Nikita. However, the lines seemed natural and they fit into the action neatly, unlike the still-poorly-looped English version. Effects came across as accurate and concise, while music appeared fairly full and distinctive. Bass response lacked much heft, but the track’s dynamics remained fine for a movie of this one’s era. I still can’t claim that I really liked the audio for La Femme Nikita, but I definitely felt this pretty good 5.1 mix seemed noticeably better than the old disc’s 2.0 track.
From what I know, director Luc Besson doesn’t care for DVD supplements, so he doesn’t participate in them. Perhaps that’s why this “Special Edition” release of La Femme Nikita comes with so few extras. We open with The Sound of Nikita, a four-minute and 49-second featurette. It combines movie clips, a few photos, and new interviews with composer Eric Serra as well as actors Tcheky Karyo and Anne Parillaud. Not surprisingly, Serra dominates the program as he relates some information about the way he scored Nikita. Too short to be really useful, “Sound” nonetheless includes some generally interesting comments.
After this we get Revealed: The Making of La Femme Nikita. Another new piece, the 20-minute and 37-second documentary uses the same format as “Sound”. We hear from actors Jean Reno, Anne Parillaud, Jean-Hugues Anglade, and Tcheky Karyo plus director of photography Thierry Arbogast. We learn a little about the project’s start as well as Parillaud’s casting and training, character insights, the original ending, and a few other tidbits. Unfortunately, “Revealed” includes way too many movie snippets, and the discussions of the roles fail to become very revealing. There’s maybe three minutes of quality material in this mediocre program.
At least it beats the bizarre Programming Nikita. This section splits into three smaller areas, each of which runs about 30 seconds. “Training Room”, “Vanity Room”, and “Bedroom”. Some remarks from Karyo pop up in the first, while Parillaud appears in the last two. These connect to places important to Nikita, but the clips seem almost totally useless. The actors’ comments pass very briefly and they say nothing helpful; heck, Parillaud’s statement for “Vanity Room” just repeats a bit from “Revealed”! After that, we simply watch some movie clips set in the various rooms. Who thought up this inane extra? It’s a total waste of time.
After this we find some publicity materials. We get a woefully brief Poster Gallery that features only two images. Next we locate the US theatrical trailer and more promos under the heading Other Great MGM Releases. This includes ads for Die Another Day, The Terminator, and Platoon.
Finally, the DVD includes an Easter egg. Actually, the packaging relates its existence, though not its location. Go to the special features menu and highlight “The Sound of Nikita”. Click to the left and this will activate a red light. Hit “enter” and you can watch a 23-second clip of Tcheky Karyo as he briefly discusses an element of the film. They should have just stuck this tidbit in the documentary; it’s a waste of time to “hide” such an inconsequential piece as an Easter egg.
I didn't like La Femme Nikita as much as I enjoyed some of Luc Besson's later works like Leon or The Fifth Element, but it's still a solid action film boosted by solid acting. Picture and sound quality both seem generally positive, but the collection of supplements offers very little of real interest.
For folks who own no copy of Nikita, I’d steer them toward this new special edition. It offers the best audio, while picture quality seems about as good as what I saw on the old disc and it also tosses in at least a few extras; they may not be very compelling, but they’re better than nothing. Fans who might consider the SE as a replacement for the “movie-only” release probably should stick with the latter. While I preferred the new disc’s audio and extras, the improvements didn’t seem to be remarkable, and I just don’t think the special edition merits a “double-dip”.