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The Professional

Léon (aka The Cleaner, aka The Professional) is a 1994 film written and directed by French director Luc Besson, starring Jean Reno and Gary Oldman, as well as Natalie Portman in her first starring role. more...

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Léon is to some extent an English-language variation on the theme of Besson's earlier film, Nikita. Besson has said he considers Jean Reno's character in Nikita (a cleaner) to be a 'cousin' of leon

Plot summary

In the film, Léon (played by Reno), a "cleaner" or a professional hitman, saves the life of a twelve-year-old girl, Mathilda (played by Portman), after her family is killed by crooked DEA agents, and decides to take care of her. She tries to convince him to teach her his trade so she can avenge her brother's murder; in return, she helps him with his house work, and may teach him a little humanity as well.

According to Luc Besson's first script-draft, the hitman's full name is Leone Montana, abbreviated to Léon. The acute accent is presumably due to the influence of Besson's mother-tongue, French. According to Luc Besson's first script-draft, the hitman's full name is Leone Montana, abbreviated to Léon. The acute accent is presumably due to the influence of Besson's mother-tongue, French.


  • Jean Reno as Léon
  • Gary Oldman as Stansfield
  • Natalie Portman as Mathilda
  • Danny Aiello as Tony

International Version

There is a version marketed in the US as the "International Version", which is also referred to as Version Intégrale, that has approximately twenty minutes of extra footage that was felt to be too risqué for mainstream US audiences. (The long version was finally released on DVD in North America as well.)

Luc Besson often releases his movies in extended versions, which are simply called version longue in France, and not version intégrale. They get a limited run in normal cinemas, in larger cities. The existence of an extended version does not mean that the original one was somehow censored. Extended versions are targeted at fans which enjoy a slower-paced show, Eric Serra's music and the general climate, like in The Big Blue. Léon was shown in France in the normal version, not in the international, intégrale or long cut. Similarly, small differences in movie durations, as accounted by the IMDb, do not necessarily result from the presence of censoring in the shorter version, as European television and video standards show movies slightly accelerated, shortening for example a two-hour movie by nearly five minutes; video labelling can reflect the actual duration rather than the cinematic one.


This film should not be confused with the 1983 animated Golgo 13 movie, which had "The Professional:" added to the title in it's U.S. releases. It also stars a hitman as the protagonist.


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