We review ''Leon, the Professional,'' ''The Big Blue: Director's Cut,'' and ''Divorce — Italian Style''

By Marc Bernardin
August 18, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Three new-to-DVD films

Leon, The Professional
With this extraordinarily French thriller, director Luc Besson returned to the existential-assassin territory he first explored in his noirish 1991 breakthrough, La Femme Nikita. Here, an illiterate, milk-loving hitman, Leon (the poignantly powerful Jean Reno), finds himself partnered with a young, newly orphaned New Yorker named Mathilda (a 12-year-old Natalie Portman, wide-eyed in her screen debut), who fancies herself his protegée. What may have been a bit unsettling to some audiences was not the stylized violence (that sort of thing never bothers), but the fact that Leon and Mathilda’s relationship — though innocent and totally unconsummated — was indeed a romantic one. This disc restores 24 minutes of footage that was in the international release (also included on the Leon: Integral Version import laserdisc), and these scenes only serve to enrich the ”forbidden” love story. From a hysterical fancy-schmancy dinner date to a more intimate training hit, we begin to see more clearly how Leon and Mathilda’s relationship is exactly the opposite of what it appears: She is the sure, mature-beyond-her-years romantic initiator, while he’s the naive ingenue, uncomfortable about getting involved in something he’s clearly not ready for. That kind of risky emotional depth is part of what marks The Professional as one of the best action movies of the ’90s. A

The Big Blue: Director’s Cut
From Luc Besson, this ethereal free-diving adventure includes an additional 49 minutes. Features: Theatrical trailers, isolated music score, ad campaign gallery, anamorphic wide-screen, Dolby Digital 5.1.

Divorce — Italian Style
The late great Marcello Mastroianni stars in this Oscar-winning marital farce. Features: Photo gallery, wide-screen, Dolby Digital mono.