Generally, the portrayal of a contract killer is that of a ruthless, cold professional who just executes his job and walks away. But a few characters are moulded in a way that they not only earn the audiences’ sympathy but emerge as ones with a heart of gold.
One such character is depicted by Jean Reno in Leon: The Professional (1994), directed by Luc Besson.
Leon: The Professional (1994): Jean Reno plays Leon, a contract killer, or cleaner, as he calls himself. Leon lives alone in an apartment building in New York City's Little Italy and takes his assignments from Tony, a mafia man and his well-wisher.
Living in Leonâ€™s immediate neighbourhood is a disturbed family comprising of Mathilda (Natalie Portman), a 12 year-old girl, her abusive and ill-tempered father who is being paid by a high rank drug-addict Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Norman (Gary Oldman) to hoard cocaine in his apartment. Mathildaâ€™s stepmother and stepsister are very hostile to her. The only person who brings a smile to her is her four year old stepbrother. Mathilda's father attracts the wrath of Norman as he discovers that the cocaine has been adulterated. Norman and his team of corrupt DEA agents kill the entire family including the four year old kid but Mathilda escapes as she was away shopping.
She is given shelter by Leon who has witnessed the entire massacre through the magic eye of his apartment. Upon learning the profession of Leon, Mathilda presses him to train her as a cleaner as she wants to avenge the murder of her brother. Initially reluctant, Leon agrees and starts her training in handling various weapons.
Norman gets after Leon and along with an NYPD ESU team besieges him while taking Mathilda as hostage. Leon blocks the ESU team and rescues Mathilda. He let Mathilda escape by an air shaft. After a fierce fire fight Leon manages to sneaks out unaware of the fact that Norman has recognized him and is following him. He shoots Leon in the back. As he is dying, Leon grabs Normanâ€™s hand and passes on a grenade pin while uttering "from Mathilda". Upon looking Leonâ€™s vest he finds a bunch of active grenades which blow up before he could escape. A massive explosion takes place, killing them both.
Tony, as per Leonâ€™s will gives all his money to Mathilda who returns to school.
Bichhoo (2000): Jeeva (Bobby Deol) is a hitman who lives in a small apartment. Kiran (Rani Mukherji) and her eccentric family are his neighbors. Her dad illegally stores narcotics for knavish ACP Devraj Khatri of Narcotics Department. He cheats on the ACP who kills the entire family. Kiran is spared as she is out shopping. Now she must take revenge on Khatri who killed her elder brother along with her hostile family and for that Jeeva must train her.
Now, what have we got here? There we had a 12 year old Mathilda and here it is 20 someone Kiran. The age difference seems plausible what with the Indian mindset. Rest is whatever happened in Leon: The Professional. Leon had his plant for company and Jeeva has a scorpion, hence the name Bichhoo. Mathilda had a kid brother while Kiran has a Big Brother. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Norman was a drug-addict and so is Devraj Khatri who has exact same mannerisms as his original counterpart.
Gary Oldman as agent Norman has given a brilliant performance. Natalie Portman as the 12 year-old victim is equally intense, especially in the sequences when she professes her love for Leon and baring her desire to marry him, and the scene at the bar where she gets drunk is simply marvellous.