Le Professionnel

Le Professionnel (1981)
Image Entertainment
Cast: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Desailly, Robert Hossein
Extras: Isolated score with sound effects

In the 70s there was no bigger name in European action cinema than Jean-Paul Belmondo. Witty, charismatic and comedic at times, the actor dominated the screen in countless action movies and action comedies and, like Alain Delon at the time, helped make French cinema a rich and enjoyable experience. Apart from his trademark smile, Belmondo was also famous for his stunts, all of which he performed himself, and is THE inspiration that ultimately created Jean-Claude Van Damme.

’Le Professionnel’ was the third collaboration of director Georges Lautner and Jean-Paul Belmondo, and it is certainly the highlight of their collaboration. It is a furious and fast-paced action film with great thriller elements, in which Belmondo plays Joss Baumont, a super spy sent to assassinate a foreign dictator. But before long, he is double-crossed by his own people and Baumont is now coming back for revenge.

Image Entertainment has created a new 16×9 enhanced widescreen transfer of the movie in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is free of defects and blemishes, mostly a result of the noise reduction applied to the transfer. Unfortunately the noise reduction has in turn introduced some softness in the picture, giving it a blurry look, especially in shots with plenty of camera movement. The transfer is mostly free of edge-enhancement, hence maintaining a natural look with well-defined edges and detail. The compression has been done well and no distracting pixelation or other compression artifacts are evident. Colors are very neutral, restoring the slightly muted look of the film, while rendering blacks very deep and solid.

The DVD contains the original, monaural French language track as well as a monaural English dub – which is quite horrible and unnatural. The frequency response on both tracks is noticeably limited, sounding quite aged. Fortunately the audio is free of hiss or other problems, creating a clear presentation. On a third audio track, the music and sound effects are isolated, giving viewers the chance to simply enjoy the film without dialogue. No extras of any sort can be found on this release, not even the movie’s trailer.

’Le Professionnel’ has a very different feel than American action thrillers and with Jean-Paul Belmondo in the lead, this is a great example of French cinema during the 70s. Check it out. I am sure you’ll enjoy it.