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Overall Rating

Awesome: 33.33%
Worth A Look65.33%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 1.33%

9 reviews, 21 user ratings

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District B13
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by William Goss

"Kicking Ass Without Taking Blames"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: 'District B13' is the kind of movie you forgive in advance, simply by buying a ticket and taking a seat. The film moves at a beyond breakneck pace, never taking a breather or slogging through narrative chit-chat to stumble the kinetic momentum. Only in hindsight does one realize that the plot isn’t so much dumb as it is inevitably inconsequential, and while it may be loud and fun, it practically forgets to be characteristically stupid for being yet another one of those adrenaline-fueled action extravaganzas. Consider it to be a refreshingly exciting guilty pleasure far too pleasurable to feel any guilt over.

In 2010, Paris has isolated its worst ghettos behind massive concrete barriers, leaving the residents to fend for themselves as criminals take charge. Only the spry Leito (David Belle) is bold enough to screw with head honcho Taha (Bibi Naceri, who co-wrote the script with French action powerhouse Luc Besson). When a stolen nuclear warhead finds its way into his hands, an equally nimble cop, Damien (Cyril Raffaelli), is sent into the district to retrieve the bomb and partners up with Leito, determined to concurrently retrieve his sister from the drug lord.

That’s the story, and there it goes, literally right out the window. While the intent of the pair is never in doubt and the weapon provides a ticking clock with which to get the heroes (and the movie) in and out under a brisk 85 minutes, District B13 is all about the action, and boy, does it deliver. Belle and Raffaelli are both rather proficient in the art of parkour, an improvisational technique of efficient human movement and agility founded by Belle himself that requires certain gymnastic and martial dexterity in tackling obstacles in one’s environment. In short, these guys can move, and their effortless momentum without the use of wires or effects make for incredibly remarkable stunts and truly impressive fight sequences. Cinematographer-turned-director Pierre Morel even had to film scenes at 150 frames per second as opposed to the traditional 24, and readjusted to regular speed, a certain grace to their actions becomes undeniably evident.

Not a single actor really has the time (or need) to act convincingly, as dropped jaws tend to allow for an unspoken buffer in the performance department, and Morel simply knows just how to film and edit every spectacular scene, nothing more or less, although his soundtrack of French hip-hop and techno proves to be oddly stimulating in keeping one’s pulse up. Even if the scenes of violence behind the wall appear to eerily resemble recent riots in Paris, no sincere subtext actually manages to make its way into the lean story, which seems to be one of the most energizing qualities of the film. There is no obligation for lengthy dialogue-driven diatribes or overbearing plot to keep elements in line, and while it’s not deep, it’s also not dumb, which lends an odd purity to such action-centric proceedings. The filmmakers have set the bar at exactly where they can reach it, and the result is simply straight-forward and surprisingly satisfying.

Following last year’s dynamic import, 'Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior,' there seems to be an oncoming resurgence of action films showcasing the practical performer, extending beyond the nifty kung-fu tricks of the aging Jackie Chan and Jet Li and outdoing the effects-heavy big-budget bonanzas of Hollywood. If 'District B13' is truly a sign of things to come for the genre, then bring it on.

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originally posted: 06/01/06 19:50:23
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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

1/16/09 Shaun Wallner Very Interesting 4 stars
2/02/08 rome Dany Verissimo as Lola was simply gorgeous. The movie was worth it just to see her. 5 stars
4/03/07 mario great movie 5 stars
1/14/07 Tanya Fun to watch, the action scenes were great but the film was short 5 stars
10/24/06 chris yes this film is really good as im into Le Parkour 5 stars
9/09/06 danthewrestlingman Not since Drive(mark dacascos) has an action film impressed me this much 5 stars
8/28/06 Tom Rx Really good film especially if your into parkour 5 stars
6/15/06 Ricardo good action film 4 stars
6/14/06 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
6/07/06 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
6/03/06 KingNeutron Great action sequences, some good lines. Recommended. 4 stars
6/02/06 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
4/14/06 SCYTHER Good parkour scenes 5 stars
3/30/06 Alicia Awesome 5 stars
3/17/06 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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