La Femme Nikita

American Theatrical Poster

Nikita (1990) is a French thriller film released in the US as La Femme Nikita. The film is about a young criminal who is recruited to work for French intelligence.

Anne Parillaud plays Nikita, a teenage junkie who is involved with robbing a pharmacy. The crime goes awry, erupting into a gunfight with the police, during which her cohorts are killed. Suffering severe withdrawal symptoms, she murders a policeman. Nikita is arrested, tried, and convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

While in prison, she is drugged to simulate an overdose and awakens later to find that she has been officially declared dead and buried after suicide by overdose; however, she is actually in the custody of the Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE), the French intelligence agency. She is given a choice of becoming an assassin or actually occupying “row 7, plot 30” (her fake grave). After some resistance, she finally chooses to cooperate and proves to be a talented killer. One of her trainers, Amande (a criminal who was also recruited and trained by the DGSE), transforms her from a degenerate drug addict to a femme fatale.

After her initial mission – killing a diplomat in a crowded restaurant and escaping back to the Centre – she graduates and begins life as a sleeper agent in Paris. She meets a man in a supermarket and with an immediate attraction they become involved, and eventually move in together. He, of course, knows nothing of her real profession.

Her career as an assassin goes well until a document-theft in an embassy goes awry, requiring the ruthless Victor “The Cleaner” to destroy the mission’s evidence and all corpses. Victor is wounded and dies; and Nikita abandons the DGSE, Paris, and her boyfriend.

If this all sounds familiar, it’s because in 1993 Warner Bros remade Nikita in English as Point of No Return, directed by John Badham and starring Bridget Fonda. Nikita also inspired the 1991 Hong Kong action film Black Cat, which closely follows the original film’s storyline.

Written and Directed by
Luc Besson

Anne Parillaud
Jean-Hugues Anglade
Tchéky Kary


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Filed under Le Cinema Francais

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