With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Friday, September 10, 2010

ACF 673: Maggie Q shines as the latest Nikita in premiere episode of new series

Last night on the CW channel, the first episode of the latest manifestation of the deadly female character Nikita was shown. The new series stars Maggie Q as the title character, and she suits the role perfectly, combing beauty, brains, and physical abilities.

This new series does a nice twist on the plot line from earlier manifestations of the story, which namely told the story how a young woman is essentially forced to work as a government assassin. Here, Nikita has already escaped from the agency, now called "Division." While flashbacks have already played a role -- and most certainly will continue to do so in future episodes -- here the emphasis is on Nikita's self-defined mission to bring down Division. In a sweet reveal at the end of last night's show, we learn that to assist her in this seemingly impossible task, Nikita successfully plotted and arranged for a mole to be planted in the agency. In fact she may have more than one inside ally to call upon. We'll see.

The film that started the whole Nikita phenomenon off, Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita (1990) starred Anne Parillaud. It was wonderful and groundbreaking. The Hollywood remake, entitled Point of No Return (1993), directed by John Badham and starring Bridget Fonda (as Maggie Hayward/Claudia Anne Doran/Nina), was alright, but nothing to rave about. Statuesque (5' 10") Australian actress Peta Wilson quite successfully took over the role in 96 episodes of USA network's La Femme Nikita, which ran from 1997-2001.

I've looked at quite a few articles and reviews related to the new series, and I've yet come across any acknowledgement of Black Cat (Hei Mao in Chinese), the 1991 Hong Kong version directed by Stephen Shin. It starred Jade Leung, in her first movie, as Erica Leung / Catherine, and Simon Yam as Brian, her handler. It was a decent enough remake, though I have my doubts that Mr Besson, who wrote as well as directed the original, ever received any remuneration. (The less set about the 1992 sequel, Black Cat 2, the better.)

Thus Maggie Q is actually the fifth, not the fourth, "Nikita," and she's the second, not the first, Asian actress to play the role. Both of which may be interesting points, but what really matters is how good the new series turns out.

Maggie Q played a Nikita-like role in the 2002 Hong Kong actioner Naked Weapon (which also starred the lovely Almen Wong Pui-Ha as the leader of an organization that kidnaps and trains young girls to become assassins).

Maggie definitely has all the right stuff to make an outstanding Nikita, and the premiere episode was very promising. I, for one am going to be coming back, and I'm expecting some very good entertainment. I think this variation on the story line can really work. My only wish is that future episodes will feature a bit more female skin and well-shot action sequences. Here's hoping the best for Maggie Q and Nikita.

(For Alessandra Stanley's quite positive advance review of Nikita in The New York Times on Wednesday, September 8, 2010, click here.)


  1. Stan, nice write up and am happy you mentioned Jade Leung and the Black Cat series. Jade or the Black Cat films are NEVER mentioned as a part of the NIKITA name.

    I only caught the last half hour of the show but what I saw was rather unimpressive. I am a fan of Maggie Q and believe she can make a great, and maybe the best NIKITA. I am going to try and watch the first half when it shows up online. And I would like to see more skin and well shot action as well. Who wouldn't?

    1. Anonymous12:40 AM

      I would have liked Nikita more if it was on HBO because then it would be a televised version of Naked Killer (bearing in mind that Naked Weapon wasn't CAT III).

  2. Glad you appreciated the mention of Jade Leung and the Black Cat films. Yeah, it's like if you're not a real Hong Konng film fan, you know nothing about them. They barely, if at all, get mentioned in books about Hong Kong films, let alone "mainstream" print or blogosphere writings.

    Since you only caught the second half of Nikita, I believe you missed the "pool scene," which featured Maggie in an outstanding red swimsuit. I think Kelly Hu made a similar "entrance" in the Martial Law TV series, wearing a red bikini if I'm not mistaken.

    I draw attention to my use of the words "promising" and "expecting." Nikita's off to a good -- not great -- start, and the show ultimately may satisfy my "Dollhouse" jones (I miss that show a lot). Time'll tell, as they say.