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DISTRICT B13 (R) (2004)

Europa/Magnolia

Official Site

Director: Pierre Morel

Producer: Luc Besson

Written by: Luc Besson, Bibi Naceri

Cast: Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Tony D’Amario, Bibi Naceri, Dany Verissimo

Rating:


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 B13.

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 CG.

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

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



none now
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