The first time I saw District B13 was at the original
Alamo Drafthouse during the 7th annual Butt-Numb-A-Thon 24 hour
film festival. The second time was at the Alamo Drafthouse South
Lamar for the SXSW Film Festival. The third time wasn’t the
charm, but that didn’t take away from the freaking intense
85-minute adrenaline rush (trademark Total Nonstop Action Wrestling)
that District B13 provides.
District B13 is clearly influenced by the premise of
John Carpenter’s Escape From New
York and his anti-authority and chaotic anarchy sensibilities.
Combine that with the no wire, no CG action/stunt stylings of Tony
Jaa’s Ong Bak and you have District
Leito (Belle) was born and raised in an isolated
and walled off ghetto of France, District B13. It’s a region
tyrannically ruled by the drug lord, Taha (co-writer, Naceri),
whom Leito is at odds with. Leito, who is an upstanding and idealistic
guy that just wants to clean up his streets, attempts to take Taha
down, but that goes horribly wrong when he is betrayed by the French
police force. Leito’s sister, Lola (Verissimo,
aka former porn star Ally MacTanya) is left in
the hands of Taha while Leito is in jail.
The situation changes when Taha gains possession of a WMD, and
the government charges a French police officer, Damien (Raffaelli),
to team up with Leito in order to stop it. Damien, like Leito, uses
that acrobatic martial arts fighting that would make the likes of
Rey Mysterio, AJ Styles, Rob
Van Dam, Chris Sabin, and Matt
Sydal green with envy.
The real highlight and draw of B13 are the fight scenes
and action sequences that have incorporated the sport of parkour.
Parkour is a sport in which the object is to maneuver through obstacles
and environments with ease. And almost all of these scenes are done
for real: no blue-screens, no green-screens, no wire-work, and no
And you have the dynamic duo of Leito and Damien, the signature
Besson uber-men, that will ultimately clash in
a knock-down drag-out fight in which the Luc Besson uber-man faces
the Luc Besson uber-man for the first time as far as I know.
Not quite as dark, heavy, and affecting as Unleashed/Danny
The Dog, but still a fun and exciting French action movie.
—Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris