the other 5 films with Luc Besson

Only today, Sunday, July 30, 2023, actor Jean Reno turns 75 years old. His face is loved and respected by the entire global film community. A face that has remained in the hearts of the audience primarily thanks to the cult Leon, directed by Luc Besson, released in 1994. But aside from this buoyant gem, the two artists have cemented a true cinematic partnership over the years. Titles except Leon there are 5 of them, and it was thanks to them that Renault conquered the USA, Hollywood and world cinema.

To celebrate his birthday, we decided to delve into these 5 titles plus one, from Jean Reno’s origins to his blockbuster debut, some of which have remained iconic thanks to their collaborations with Besson. Reno worked with people like Brian DePalma, Wim Wenders, Antonioni, Spike Lee, Kassovitzproviding his face in roles that will be remembered for years to come.

Jean Reno, Leon and 5 more movies

Scene from Le Grand Bleu
Scene from Le Grand Bleu

So, here are 5 films (6 including Leon) in which Renaud and Besson work closely together. A collaboration that allowed the former to break into Hollywood and the latter to propose a character. iconic in the history of cinema.

Leon (1994)

Let’s start with the most obvious, but certainly not the most obvious. Leon is a 1994 French production written and directed by Luc Besson. This is one of those films that needs no introduction. I encourage all readers to say that they have never seen or at least heard of this title. Well, to refresh our memory, Leon tells the story of the eponymous protagonist, an Italian-American hitman, and how his life is turned upside down by meeting a little girl who has lost everything, played by Natalie Portman.

Jean Reno plays the part that Besson wrote for him. A very young Portman will make her debut on the big screen. Then Gary Oldman, ruthless and crazy, gives an unforgettable performance. The characters and scenes in this film are so iconic that any of them could be made into a spin-off. Leon is a French film that was ranked number one on IMDb’s Top 250 list. This is by far the film that best describes the working relationship between Renaud and Besson, but as expected, he is not the only one.

Le Dernier Boy (1982)

This little gem of French independent cinema marks Besson’s directorial debut and Renaud’s first leading role. It’s the early 1980s, and for the last two or three years Renaud has worked mostly with theater companies. He participated in French films with small roles, but during the audition of the film, Renault meets Besson, assistant director of this production. The two became friends. Besson just finished filming Vanguard Derniershort film to inspire two years later Le Dernier Combat. The director has no doubts wants Reno to star in his first movie.

Here he is, in the role of Brutus, in this black and white post-apocalyptic world. Le Dernier Combat is a hidden gem of action scenes, apocalyptic scenarios and a noteworthy soundtrack signed by Eric Serra. This film also marks the beginning of a historic collaboration between the composer Serra and Besson. A title not for everyone (it only has two lines of dialogue at 90 minutes), but one that for fans will certainly offer an entertaining and engaging vision. Suffice it to say that critics of the time compared Besson to John Carpenter French Version.

Metro (1985)

When an artist has free rein, it’s hard to see the passion behind their work. WITH Metro Besson learned how to handle the camera. He wrote and directed the film, which became one of the most watched films in France in 1986. Fast paced title with funny and fast scenes. All in a gangster vein, but in Paris and with a hint of style to compare to that of Guy Ritchie at the beginning. This is the story of Fred, who, while running from a group of gangsters, falls in love and forms a group in the Paris subway.

Besson plays at home and takes a bassist and drummer into the band. They are interpreted by the aforementioned composer Eric Serra, and by now friend and colleague of Jean Reno.

Le Grand Bleu (1988) – a turning point for Jean Reno

Opening film at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. Le Grand Blue this is the title that definitively unites Besson as an author. Director proved excellent technical skills, a vocation for visual storytelling and the use of light and color to express emotion. This is the story of a rivalry/friendship between two freedivers Jacques Mayol and Enzo Molinari. These two dedicated their lives to water, pushing their bodies to their limits. In France, this is a real cult, but in the rest of the world, the film is remembered with respect.

Jean Reno plays freediver Enzo Molinari, inspired by real-life athlete Enzo Mallorca. The athlete didn’t fully appreciate how he was portrayed on the big screen, but Reno’s performance is what finally brings him out to the rest of the world. One of his finest performances, for which he was nominated for a César Award in 1989 as best supporting actor.

Nikita (1990)

Luc Besson creates a world, even a mood, that will be associated with him, and subsequently with Jean Reno. We mean tones, times and characters Nikitathe movie came out early Leon which takes place in the same cinematic universe. And indeed without one we wouldn’t have the other. The film tells the story of drug addict Nikita, who goes very badly during a heist with criminal friends that ends in disaster. She will be sentenced to life imprisonment, but she will be offered training as an assassin for the French secret services.

The neo-noir attitude of the protagonist played by Anne Pourillo, nostalgic tones and violence as the only solution unite this title with the followers of Besson. The peculiarity is that in Nikita a character named Eraser appears. He is a ruthless killer that Nikita will meet. This is the face of Jean Reno, and Besson admitted that this character he is practically the same as Leon. Nikita won the César Award and the David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actress, the Silver Ribbon for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for numerous Golden Globes.

Wasabi (2001)

We live in the new millennium and now Reno enjoys international fame. Leon this is the film he is most associated with, but the actor never ceases to give us unforgettable roles in both blockbusters (as we will see shortly) and small but high-quality productions. Wasabi this is one of those films. The film directed by Gerard Krawczyk and written by Luc Besson is a real Treasury of French detectives. Humor and violence mix in a script that still manages to move at least enough to please the characters in this movie.

Jean Reno is the main character, French policeman Hubert Fiorentini. He will have to fly to Japan because of a will left by an old girl he hasn’t seen in years. Iconic is the scene in which Reno, busy discussing a secret with a colleague, eats wasabi with his fingers, as if nothing had happened.

Jean Reno in the world of Hollywood

Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel
Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel

We concluded with Wasabi a review of six films that link an actor to a director (not forgetting the composer Serra, present in all but the last of these titles). As anticipated at the outset, this partnership is arguably one of the most important in cinema in recent years. A little Scorsese is De Niro, but French. Also thanks to the fame accumulated by Besson’s roles, Jean Reno distinguished himself by showing his face in iconic roles even in the highest budget films, as well as collaborating with very important names.

Consider, for example, the first Mission impossible brian de palma, cornerstone in the history of cinema, in which Reno plays pilot Frank Krieger. Or legendary Godzilla Emmerich, where Renault is an agent of the French secret services. IN ronin colleague of Robert De Niro Purple rivers with Vincent Cassel directed by Kassovitz. Then work with Wim Wenders, Spike Lee, roles in The Da Vinci Code., Guests, Rollerballs.

In a word, Jean Reno boasts an excellent career. Léon’s face owes a lot to his partnership with Besson, but the director also found in his actor security designed for great things. Reno is definitely one of the most recognizable faces in filmography from the early 90s to the late 2000s, making him one of the most beloved actors of the time and beyond.

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