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Overall Rating

Awesome: 33.33%
Worth A Look65.33%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 1.33%

9 reviews, 21 user ratings

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District B13
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by Matt Seaver

"“It’s like “The Transporter” without those pesky complexities of plot!"
4 stars

A lot of summer movies come off as mindless entertainment. They’re still worth watching, but they don’t have nearly the intellectual interest that some of their filmmakers would like to think they do. What’s even more fun is when a filmmaker doesn’t even make an attempt. They just deliver the fun.

As the film starts, we’re informed that crime in Paris has gotten so bad that in 2010, the worst section (banlieue 13) has been closed to anyone who doesn’t live there, and the police have pulled out, leaving the residents to their own devices. One man, Leïto (David Belle), refuses to give into the criminal temptations around him. We find him destroying a shipment of cocaine, which naturally pisses off the previous owner, a crimelord named Taha (co-writer Bibi Naceri). He sends a band of thugs to smoke out Leïto, triggering maybe the most fun chase scene in a very long time. For a good seven minutes, Leïto doesn’t stop running, no matter what thugs, locked doors, windows or balconies get in his way – apparently following a running discipline called parkour. After a nasty incident with the police, which also sees his sister kidnapped by Taha’s thugs, Leïto is thrown in jail. Six months later, he is recruited to help a special strike against Taha, who has acquired an armed and ticking nuclear warhead. He teams with the equally-impressive Damien (Cyril Raffaelli), the military agent assigned to the job. Lots of fun running and kicking ensue.

One of the great things about this film is that there’s really nothing to it. It’s pure fluff, and it is aware of that. The “plot” is actually just a backdrop for a pretty kickass martial arts demo. The characters have no real depth to them beyond their clear identities of ‘good guy’ or ‘bad guy’. The plot, silly as it is, is only used to get the two heroes into confrontations with the villains.

The thing is… that’s all OK. This isn’t trying to be any more than it is. It’s pretty clear that Besson thought this would be a fun idea, developed it, and handed it to one of his colleagues to try his hand at directing. Pierre Morel has served as cinematographer on a couple Besson projects (namely Unleashed and The Transporter), and proves himself competent in his debut. He’s nothing thrilling, but he gets the job done. Echoing my most common complaint about hand-to-hand combat in films right now, Morel doesn’t pull back and show too much of the action – it’s all quick cuts and edits, which I am told makes it more exciting, though I still prefer actually seeing fist meet face. He does allow for a couple of his “money shot” moments to play out, including a fun double team between the two heroes on a monster known only as “Yeti”, and that’s awfully fun, so I only wish he had followed through on the rest as well.

Performance-wise… it’s pretty clear that neither man was cast because of their acting talents, though neither is outwardly bad. Belle is credited with creating the parkour form, making him the clear choice to practice it in the film, and Raffaelli, along with being a friend of Besson and Belle’s, is, according to Wikipedia (so take it as you will), one of the best martial artists in France today. The film really plays like a demo reel for the two of them, and that in itself is a lot of fun

Luc Besson has made a career of such frivolous entertainment, after helming The Fifth Element and producing both Transporter films, and he’s gotten very good at it. Besson is listed as a co-writer on District B13 – which makes me laugh, because it apparently took two people to write this thing. He also serves as producer, and from what I understand has a guiding hand in many of the films he produces. The film is great fun to watch, despite lacking any kind of depth. I can only hope it serves to introduce David Belle and perhaps Cyril Raffaelli to the mainstream world á la Jason Statham.

If you’re looking for anything thought provoking or meaningful, stay away. If you’re looking for a film in which one guy comes up with some amazingly creative ways to evade or hurt people, and still have his fluffy hair look really cool while doing it, check this out. It’s a fun, uninhibited ride, and worth slapping a couple bucks down.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12230&reviewer=412
originally posted: 06/05/06 15:31:59
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Independent Film Festival of Boston For more in the 2006 Independent Film Festival of Boston series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Deep Focus Film Fest For more in the 2006 Deep Focus Film Fest series, click here.

User Comments

1/15/09 Shaun Wallner Very Interesting 4 stars
2/01/08 rome Dany Verissimo as Lola was simply gorgeous. The movie was worth it just to see her. 5 stars
4/02/07 mario great movie 5 stars
1/13/07 Tanya Fun to watch, the action scenes were great but the film was short 5 stars
10/23/06 chris yes this film is really good as im into Le Parkour 5 stars
9/08/06 danthewrestlingman Not since Drive(mark dacascos) has an action film impressed me this much 5 stars
8/27/06 Tom Rx Really good film especially if your into parkour 5 stars
6/14/06 Ricardo good action film 4 stars
6/13/06 burton miller i wish i had known it was directed by the same asshole that directed 'transporter 2' 1 stars
6/13/06 Mase Mindless fun, charasmatic stars, and a great pulsing techno soundtrack. 4 stars
6/06/06 Darren Shea A well-constructed, exciting action film - why can't American dumb actioners be this good? 4 stars
6/06/06 Karl It was fun and entertaining. Lots of good action/stunt. 4 stars
6/02/06 KingNeutron Great action sequences, some good lines. Recommended. 4 stars
6/01/06 San Lamar good 5 stars
5/30/06 Jeremy The talent displayed here is astounding... Felt like I was hooked to an iv of adrenaline 5 stars
4/23/06 Panda-chan This is one ridiculously awesome movie. Belle does an amazing job of showing parkour. 5 stars
4/13/06 SCYTHER Good parkour scenes 5 stars
3/29/06 Alicia Awesome 5 stars
3/16/06 Rebecca It's a dumb action movie, but it's a good dumb action movie. 4 stars
10/24/05 The Almighty Zero Mind-blowing, gravity-defying action movie! Wonderful choreography and great eye candy! 5 stars
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  02-Jun-2006 (R)
  DVD: 05-Sep-2006



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