Do you know that the Poles were impressed by Luc Besson's Léon to such a degree that 3 years after its release they made "their own" version of the story (named Sara, Leon there is a name of the main male character, a former commando)?
I have finally re-watched both movies (or, more exactly, watched them wholly for the first time because before I had watched them both in snatches only) and now I am ready to share with you my opinion of them. Unfortunately, both Léon and Sara turned out to be movies making better impressions when watching them in snatches (though Léon in a lesser degree than Sara).
No doubts, Léon is very touching but if to look closely at the main male character - Léon Montana, the hitman - there begin to appear some shortcomings making him not so "professional" as it may be seen. (As for the main female character - 12 year old girl named Matilda - though her actions are sometimes very stupid nevertheless she behaves just as one can expect from a girl of such age.) First, he let Matilda into his flat when there was shooting in her own. Ok, he had his principle not to touch women and children and that is why he wasn't able both to leave Matilda helpless when her family was being killed and to kill her later, when she was sleeping in his flat. (Though a real pro would have done this.) But later, having rescued Matilda from DEA office, why didn't he leave town? Or at least his flat? And next morning he shouldn't in any case let Matilda leave the flat alone! Such an indiscretion led to his death (though he was able to kill a main villain
and a lot of innocent policemen). So if before watching the movie I considered Léon to be a real pro then after my opinion of him has worsened. Being expert in killing people he was rather ignorant in usual life and his illiteracy (which was "cured" by Matilda) together with keeping all his saving in the pocket of Tony, his mafioso boss, adds even more to the picture. And I can even say that his ignorance was the thing that eventually killed him.
As for Matilda - her unwillingness to go to school was initially the thing that put her personally into this bloody drama. Had she been at school both she and Léon should definitely have stayed alive. And in the end Matilda had to return to the same school, with Léon dead (though all that happened might teach her something).
Summing up: Léon: The Professional is a touching story, indeed, but stupidity of its heroes takes away a huge part of warm feelings towards them. Was there something more good there? Yes, beautiful views of New-York, Roosevelt Island Tramway and Twin Towers still standing.
In comparison with Léon Sara has a happy ending which, in fact, again makes it less touching. Together with the rest details of the plot (an adult man, a former commando, in love with a 16-year-old girl) this turns the movie into a kind of cheap melodrama. Anyway, the outset is catching enough (and I was rather surprised to learn that Poland did have its own "hard 90ies") but almost all the intrigue disappears when in one scene Sara is trying unsuccessfully to seduce Leon, her bodyguard, and in the next one they are already in bed. Why did the authors skip that IMHO very interesting psychological moment - a man passing from denial into acceptance of an affair with a girl at least twice younger than him and, in addition, the daughter of his boss?? Without these "omitted" scenes it's impossible to fully understand Leon's character and thus he looks like a plain hero of a typical soap opera.
The second third (from the scene in bed till the scene when Sara's father finally learns about her affair with Leon) has almost no sense load. There are some beautiful scenes (like tango in the restaurant) but they add nothing to the plot. The ending is rather dynamical (and sometimes rather touching, for example, when Sara's father's people kill Leon's father) but as I mentioned before this happy ending kills all the pathos. (Btw, in the long perspective the ending is not so happy as it may seem. I am not sure whether Sara and Leon would be as happy a couple of years later as they were in the end of the movie ...) So a person who knows only the beginning of the story and who have seen only some scenes (tango and some shooting) IMHO has a much more better impression of the movie that one who saw it wholly. But I am glad that thanks to Sara I "discovered" Bogusław Linda (he played Leon) and I hope in future to watch more movies with him.