Presented using the MPEG-4/AVC codec at a theatrically correct 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio Nikita has never looked as pristine, even whilst she's a drug addict Anne Aprillaud has never looked this good.
The colours used by Besson and Arbogast are beautifully rendered, from the opening blue hues of the pharmacy to the bright vivid rich colours towards the end of the feature. The muted tones of the training area are still rendered perfectly just not as vividly as the opening and closing acts. The bands of blue in those opening scenes exhibit no sign of any banding whatsoever and the whole scene is an absolute joy to watch because of this. This shot also offers up a fantastic amount of detail, from the advertisements on the walls, the drawers that are opened, the shots piercing the shelves and the small knik knacks on display from sunglasses to medicine bottles.
Blacks are deep and perhaps a little too deep, there are some areas where they suck in all of the detail and that detail is then lost, some shadowy corners in the training area exhibit this quite strongly, no doubt a stylistic choice from Besson but still I would have preferred it opened up a little. At the other end of the scale the whites are pristine from the walls of her cell, to the bright outdoors when she is finally released. There is some minor enhancement in rooftops during these bright scenes but nothing that will detract you from immersing yourself in the feature.
Detail is superb, if not at times a little soft, and the best examples of this can again be found in her cell after she has adorned the walls with her art, the restaurant 'Bob' takes her to, the training areas she learns her trade. The restaurant scene in particular adds some superb depth to the proceedings but on the whole it's a rather flat image.
Transfer wise there are no problems. Some apparent grain which is understandable but no noise or blocking at all. A good enough transfer.
Unlike the earlier Region A release all we get on this disc is a French LPCM stereo track. Now this in itself is no bad thing. Nikita was shot and originally shown in stereo and I always did feel that the Dolby TrueHD track on the Region A was at times a little forced. Take for instance the scene where Nikita is being taken from her police cell to the court. The prison guards rattle the cages with their batons and it emanates from your surround stage. This just never felt right as the action was all up front.
Now we have the chance to experience Nikita how it was originally shot. It's glorious.
Even though the action is all up front it's an immersive track, at times one which is in your face as hurried gun battles ensue but in the main it keeps itself in the background never intruding on the scenes you're watching. Panning from front to left as these battle commence is superb, all of the gun shots are crystal clear. The fronts also handle the lower tones well but this will undoubtedly depend on the nature of your individual fronts rather than your sub.
Dialogue is sharp and bright and the French easily heard. Those people lucky enough to speak French can rest assured that there are no missed syllables here. There is no English track on this version either and only English subs. So you either Speak French, read English or you're done.
- The Making of Nikita. - 0:20:37 - 576i/MPEG-2
A standard making of featurette with some cast and crew recounting the time they spent working on this feature. We get input from Anne Aprillaud, Jean Reno and Tcheky Karyo amongst others. Anne tells us the amount of training she had to put into the film and that in itself is quite interesting.
- Tcheky Karyo on Besson. - 0:00:25 - 576i/MPEG-2
A very brief segment on Karyo's opinion on Luc Besson's filming style
- The Sound of Nikita. - 0:04:38 - 576i/MPEG-2
Eric Serra has worked on a number of Besson features and now he gets his say on how he likes to compose, when Besson first came across him and specifically his work in creating Nikita's score.
- The Bedroom. - 0:00:33 - 576i/MPEG-2
Anne Aprillaud giving us an all too brief insight into Nikita's character.
- Training Room. - 0:00:33 - 576i/MPEG-2
Tcheky Karyo again having a word or two, literally, on Nikita's production.
- Vanity Room. - 0:00:33 - 576i/MPEG-2
Anne Aprillaud repeating what she said in the earlier making of featurette.
- Trailer. - 0:02:2 - 576i/MPEG-2
As the name suggests.
A better set of trailers than the barren Region A release but really so much more should have been done here. The 'room' extras are so spartan it's almost not worth having them there at all. The making of is perhaps the only item here I could recommend you watch, it's interesting and gives some insight into the making of the film and the characters it contains.
Nikita is without a doubt one of the most stylish thrillers to emerge onto our screens in the last twenty years; perhaps only eclipsed by Leon. Both are wonders of modern European cinema and both by far the best works that Besson has produced. Nikita laid the ground work for his seminal project a few years later and all credit must go to the team he selected to help him produce this piece of art.
Jean Reno gives his all as he always does for Besson, as does Arbogast and Serra. However, it is Anne Parillaud who gives us a commanding performance for her role as Nikita. From the disturbed almost psychotic animal as we meet her, through to her final vision of beauty, grace and ultimately almost corrupted innocence as she looks for the one thing which has eluded her all of her life.
The Region B Blu-ray variant is not just a step up from the DVD editions which have preceded it but also in my opinion the earlier Region A release. Whilst not being multi channel this original soundtrack is far superior and the extras are obviously much better seeing the earlier release had none bar a few trailers. If you can play Region B then this has to be the version I recommend. If not then buy the earlier edition; either way make sure you add Nikita to your growing Blu-ray collection.
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