Leon: The Professional appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This 2015 4K transfer offered a stunning visual experience.
Sharpness was terrific. At all times, the movie offered fine clarity, with consistently tight, accurate imagery. No issues with jaggies or moiré effects emerged, and edge haloes failed to appear. Source flaws were absent in this clean presentation.
Colors presented one of the transfer’s strongest elements. Despite the flick’s yellowish tint, the tones came across as full throughout the movie. No signs of bleeding, noise, or other concerns appeared. Black levels also looked deep and dense, and shadows showed nice clarity. Visuals consistently impressed and made the film look amazing.
This 2015 Blu-ray delivered a remixed Dolby Atmos soundtrack that downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for those of us without Atmos equipment. The forward soundfield appeared well defined, with consistently good localizing and a reasonably high activity level.
The surrounds kicked in with lively audio during much of the film. Of course, the action scenes fared best, as those brought out vivid information. The elements meshed well and helped contribute to the mix’s overall impact. Music and effects created a nice sensation in the surrounds.
Audio quality was solid. Dialogue appeared natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns. Effects were clean and full, with good impact. The same went for music, which was lively and dynamic. This became a very strong soundtrack.
How did this 2015 4K Blu-Ray compare with those of the prior 2009 BD? Even without Atmos capabilities, I thought the 2015 added involvement and power to the old mix. Unlike the original track, the new one made better use of the surrounds, as I heard stereo imaging in the back speakers that I didn’t detect from the prior release.
Visuals showed even stronger improvements, as the new transfer looked tighter and more dynamic. Though the old disc was good, the new one bettered it in every way.
This 2015 version replicates the extras from the prior Blu-ray. First we find a Fact Track. This works in the standard subtitle commentary manner. Text runs at the bottom of the screen that covers topics like the cast, locations and sets, production elements and good notes from the shoot.
In the category of “annoying punctuation”, the track uses way too many exclamation points, but that’s pretty much my only complaint about the commentary. It includes a lot of nice information about the creation of the movie and helped add to my appreciation of the flick.
The Blu-ray includes two versions of the film. We get Leon, the “International Cut” (2:12:54), and The Professional, the US edition (1:49:27). I’ll stick with Leon since it represents the director’s preferred version, but it’s nice that the Blu-ray offers viewers the option to see The Professional as well.
Next we get a 10 Year Retrospective. This 25-minute, 10-second program includes archival footage, movie clips, and new interviews with producer Patrice Ledoux, casting director Todd Thaler, director of photography Thierry Arbogast, costume designer Magali Guidasci, editor Sylvie Landra, and actors Natalie Portman, Jean Reno, Maiwenn, Ellen Greene, Michael Badalucco, and Frank Senger,
They discuss the movie’s conception as a spin-off from La Femme Nikita, casting challenges, shooting in New York and Paris, the looks of the characters, a few real life connections in the story, Besson’s style as a director, and filming some specific scenes.
Don’t mistake “Retrospective” for a complete look at the movie’s creation, but it includes quite a few interesting notes. We learn a lot of nice tidbits about the flick and find a lot to like here. The best part comes from the alternate takes of Gary Oldman as he threatens Mathilda’s father.
Entitled Jean Reno: The Road to Leon, the 12-minute, 25-second piece features the actor as he discusses his life and profession. We get information about his upbringing, his entrance into acting and the progression of his career, specifics about making Leon, and general thoughts about his work.
It’s a fairly honest piece that doesn’t gloss over some of the problems Reno encountered. It doesn’t discuss many of his films, so it doesn’t work as a full biography or overview. That said, it’s interesting and presents a reasonable amount of compelling information.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find Natalie Portman: Starting Young, a piece that fills 13 minutes, 49 seconds with comments from Portman. I thought this would work like the Reno chat, but instead it concentrates mostly on Leon. She talks about her audition and desire to be in the flick, concerns exhibited by her parents, acting challenges, and the specifics of some scenes. I like the focus on her Leon experiences, as Portman tosses out many useful tidbits about what it was like to create the flick.
Leon effectively combines hard-hitting action with moving drama to create an indelible piece of work that seems very effective. The Blu-ray provides stellar picture and audio as well as a good set of supplements. I like Leon, and this 4K Blu-ray makes it look and sound better than ever. Even if you own the prior disc, it merits an upgrade.
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