La Femme Nikita Luc Besson

While today's action movies are strewn with an ever-increasing amount of strong, kick-ass women, even if they're cut with more and more gratuitous sex appeal sizzle and not enough substance, La Femme Nikita set the bar high for empowerment and body counts with its debut in 1990. And now this gem is back in special edition DVD form to erase the stains of that failed American adaptation, Point of No Return, which even Harvey Keitel couldn't salvage, not to mention its TV show spin-off. The tale of a street junkie (Nikita, played with the vulnerability and rage of a wounded wild animal by Anne Parillaud) forcibly turned special agent by the French government in penance for her sins (murdering a cop in cold blood after a failed drugstore raid), is smart and stylish, with the artistry of the shots mostly standing the test of the last 13 years. While it's been said that Besson essentially makes Hollywood movies in France, there's a grittiness, as well as an emphasis on love and the dichotomy of Nikita emerging as an emotionally competent and capable human being versus her other life has a cold blooded assassin, which belies the simplicity of that assessment. While the movie is still strong, La Femme Nikita's extras are a mixed bag. Consisting mainly of present-day interviews with the principal cast, it's light on Luc Besson's thoughts. The "Making of" documentary does reveal how Parillaud was so in character during the shooting that she was once stopped and detained by the police, as well as her fear of guns and Judo. As well, it offers up a featurette on the "sound" of Nikita, which while not your typical featurette, seems an odd facet to focus on, considering the predominantly keyboard soundtrack is not earth shattering. Extras: "The Sound of Nikita" featurette; "The Making of" documentary; poster gallery; interactive map; theatrical trailer. (MGM)