The Professional (Le professionnel) (1981)

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Released 23-Sep-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 103:43
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Georges Lautner
Studio
Distributor
Canal+
Madman Entertainment
Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo
Jean Desailly
Robert Hossein
Michel Beaune
Cyrielle Clair
Jean-Louis Richard
Sidiki Bakaba
Pierre Saintons
Marie-Christine Descouard
Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu
Elisabeth Margoni
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Ennio Morricone


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     French Secret Service agent Major Josselin “Joss” Beaumont (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is sent to the African republic of Malagawi to assassinate President Njala (Pierre Saintons). However political realities change and the Secret Service betrays Joss to the Africans and he is captured, tried and sentenced to hard labour. After two years Joss escapes and returns to Paris. Njala just happens to be on a state visit to France at the time and Joss sends a telegram to his old masters informing them that he intends to carry out his previous mission. It is up to the Secret Service, especially ruthless Commissioner Rosen (Robert Hossein) and Joss’ old friend Edouard Valeras (Michel Beaune) to stop him if they can.

     The Professional (Le professionnel is a riveting, intelligent thriller told with style, charm and humour. From the opening garishly coloured credit sequence set to the haunting theme music of master Ennio Morricone, it is clear that this film is something special. Without preliminary, the film launches into Joss’ trial in Malagawi and he is soon enduring hard labour under the hot sun. He escapes amid explosions and gunfire but this is a thriller rather than an action film and the action, while impressive, is not overdone and each sequence has a purpose in developing the narrative. This action, for example, includes a realistic car chase through the streets of Paris past Paris icons, done without the more modern jumpy intercutting that so often means that the editor is the most important aspect of the chase, not the cars. There is also a very Leone type western gunfighter standoff, complete of course with Morricone music, that is deliciously undercut by the addition of a flower delivery man! But without a doubt this is Belmondo’s film and he is superb, whether breaking rocks, engaging in hand to hand combat or romancing beautiful women. His combination of rugged good looks, off-hand charm and charisma on the screen is very special and very watchable. It is hard to imagine anyone else playing the part, except perhaps Steve McQueen in an English language version.

    The Professional was a huge hit in France. It is an intelligent thriller told with style and humour with a superb star turn by Jean-Paul Belmondo and a wonderful score by Ennio Morricone. A must for fans of Belmondo or French cinema.

     The Professional is included in the four disc set French Screen Icons: Jean-Paul Belmondo 3 from Madman that also includes The Outside Man (1983), The Loner (1987) and Amazon (2000).

     The Professional has also been released previously in Region 4 as part of the Best French Crime Flicks box set and was reviewed on this site here. That DVD release seems identical to the one included in the Belmondo 3 set.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Professional is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a nice print with good detail for a 30 year old film. The colours, after the garish opening title sequence, are natural, deep and rich, blacks solid and shadow detail fine. There was slight colour bleed early on the judges’ red robes, grain and some variation in brightness but nothing distracting. Apart from one small hair, there were only minor small artefacts so it was a clean print overall.

     English subtitles are in an easy to read white font. They seemed well timed and I noticed only one minor spelling error and no grammatical errors.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 224 Kbps that does a good job. Dialogue is clear, the explosions and gunshots had a reasonable resonance. There was obviously no surround or subwoofer use. The music of Ennio Morricone, including the memorable main theme, is nicely presented.

     Lip synchronisation was good.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     None

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Professional has received a number of single disc releases in various regions. There are two listed in Region 1 US – one is showing as in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the other in the correct ratio of 1.66:1. A Region 2 UK version is apparently in 1.85:1 – and none of these English friendly releases seem to have extras. Perhaps the best version is a Region 2 French release in 1.66:1 with French or English language options. It includes filmographies, a photo gallery, posters and trailers. However, while an English dub is available, there are no subtitles for the French language version, a serious omission. The Professional I cannot find an equivalent Belmondo collection listed on sales sites. The only thing close is a Region 2 UK collection that includes Breathless, Pierrot Le Fou, Le Professional, Stavisky and A Double Tour.

     As noted, The Professional has been released previously in Region 4 as part of the Best French Crime Flicks. That version seems identical to the release in this Belmondo set.

Summary

     The Professional is a riveting, intelligent thriller told with style and humour with a superb star turn by Jean-Paul Belmondo and a wonderful score by Ennio Morricone. A must for fans of Belmondo or French cinema who do not already have a copy. .

     The DVD has good video and audio. There are no extras but the film is presented in a box set with three other Belmondo films, which is great value.

     The Professional is included in the four disc set French Screen Icons: Jean-Paul Belmondo 3 from Madman that also includes The Outside Man (1983), The Loner (1987) and Amazon (2000).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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