If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Synopsis:In the distant future of 2010, many of the slums in Paris have become overrun with crime and drugs. The government decides the best way to deal with this issue is to build a giant wall separating them from the rest of the city, and basically abandoning them. This is District B13, now ruled by street gangs, including one run by the community driven Leito (David Belle.) When a rival gang, run by Taha Bemamud (Bibi Naceri,) kidnaps his sister Lola (Dany Verissimo) Leito ends up getting himself imprisoned trying to save her. Six months later Taha steals a nuclear bomb and the French government sends undercover cop Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli) into the district after it, using the reluctant help of Leito to find and defuse the weapon, before it’s too late.
Story Revu:District B13 is co-written and produced by Luc Besson, and was filmed after 1994, which should tell you pretty much all you need to know about the film. But, if you’re not quite so up-to-date on your knowledge of Besson's work, suffice to say, this is a bad movie with a couple of cool moments. The plot is predictable, and yet still kind of fun to watch. The logical fallacies that help the plot unfold are enormous, but if you just suspend your disbelief and don’t think about them, you’ll enjoy it fine. It’s one of those films that you’d never recommend to anyone, but if you’re in the right frame of mind, you might just have a good time watching it.
Action Revu:Let’s face it. Parkour is no longer the thrill it once was. It’s in every action film nowadays. Remember fifteen years ago when Jackie Chan performed his death defying jump from the roof of the parking structure to the neighboring fire escape in ‘Rumble in the Bronx’ and escaped the gang members chasing him? The very idea that there wasn’t five more gang bangers willing to do the same thing to catch him seems a little foreign in today’s action landscape. Be it James Bond, Jason Bourne, or even Nike commercials, Parkour is the new black. This movie stars David Belle, often called one of the founders of Parkour (and according to Wikipedia, a black-belt in ‘kung-fu’ which is like saying Tiger Woods has won trophies in ‘sports’) so you would think there would be A LOT of Parkour. Instead you will find this movie just has a smattering of Parkour and just a touch of martial arts choreography. The majority of the film time is inexplicably concerned with the plot of the film. And I know what you're thinking, you're thinking, well, look at all the action in the trailer. That trailer is tricking you. This movie is not wall to wall action sequences. If you look back at the first Transporter movie, you have the same thing. The trailer made it seem like it was nothing but action, when in reality it was only a few over-the-top action sequences that tried to distract you from the fact that you were watching a pretty terrible movie. When District B13 first came out, it received excellent reviews from action junkies, like myself, because Parkour was new and the adrenaline of the scenes was undeniable. But now that even Michael Scott is trying his hand at the sport, this boost just isn’t what it used to be. The martial arts sequences with Cyril Raffaelli are ably performed but ultimately uninspired with a couple of nice stunt spots. They certainly aren't boring, but they often seem a bit derivative of many other martial artists, and few of them leave a particularly strong impression on the viewer once they're over. Parkour is still an impressive acrobatic feat, and it always will be, but a three minute Parkour sequence no longer makes an action film, hell you could throw one in a romantic comedy and it wouldn’t seem out of place anymore.
Overall:Ultimately how much you enjoy this movie really boils down to how much you enjoy the plot and the characters. You will enjoy it exactly as much as you would enjoy any other mediocre Luc Besson film with a medium amount of action. The action isn’t bad, but it’s just not great either, unless you still haven’t gotten enough of Parkour to desensitize yourself to it, at least partially. I remember really enjoying this the first time I saw it, but on repeat viewings I find I like it less and less, and it's that inability to stand up to the scrutiny of time that I judge this film. District B13 is a forgettable movie that happened to come out at the right time to exploit Parkour, but will be mostly forgotten 10 years from now, and in fact, if it wasn’t recently released sequel it’d be mostly forgotten today, but that is another review.
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