What Are the Differences Between “Léon: The Professional’s” Various Cuts?


Léon: The Professional (1994) has undergone cuts that create substantial differences between the film versions.

The original cut of the film, now considered the “international version,” the “director’s cut,” or the “long version,” is Luc Besson’s intended cut of the film. It is found under the title Léon: The Professional. This version was not originally released in America because a number of scenes tested very poorly with American audiences back in 1994. This international version amplifies the relationship between Léon (Jean Reno) and Mathilda (Natalie Portman). There’s a Russian roulette scene, a situation where Mathilda tries to seduce Léon, additional scenes of Léon training Mathilda in assassination methods, the pair hitting the home of a drug dealer and torching his stash, Mathilda drinking in a restaurant, and other scenes that American audiences didn’t like. Though nothing sexual occurs between the characters, Americans felt many scenes were too sexually pedophilic or mature to involve a child, so they were removed for the American release. There was also controversy about seeing Mathilda undergoing more extensive assassin training that involved her actually performing the work. This version can usually only be found on DVD.

Thus, the American release, re-titled simply The Professional, is over 25 minutes shorter than the original intended version. This is also the version found on Netflix, despite Netflix using the international title for the film.

Other cuts have also been made for television screenings, but they aren’t official cuts. They are, however, almost always based on the USA release of the film.