Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The first ‘District B13’ was something else indeed. I’m still not sure if it qualifies as a movie since it really was just a series of loosely connected, but simply spectacular action sequences, but it was about as much fun as anybody could conceivable have sitting in front of screen allowing images to past in front of your eyeballs. Three years later the inevitable sequel has finally come down the pike in ‘District B13: Ultimatum’ and unlike the original this one is a real live legitimate movie with a beginning, middle and end just as you would expect from as real movie. I guess that’s the good part because the downside to this is that it’s not nearly as much fun as the first movie.

In the last movie super badass Parisian cop Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffielli) and his home boy Leito (David Belle), a super badass community activist, had just stopped some shady government conspiracy to nuke District B13 or something with the promise that things will change. Three years later nothing has changed. District B13 is still a hellhole ruled by drugs and all other kinds of illegal activity and Leito is still doing his grass roots athletics thing to enact change. On the other side of the wall Damien is going to extreme means to bust up criminals, even if it means dressing as a transvestite with his ass sticking out. It’s complicated. I sure hope that was a stunt butt and not Cyril Raffielli’s authentic butt I was forced to look at.

Eventually the actual plot of this movie will kick in which consist of some secret police agency within the Parisian police force, headed up by the evil Walter Gassman (Daniel Duvall).  Gassman has deemed District B13 as expendable and to that end has set in motion a series of events to destroy the drug infested crime ridden hovel. The first thing Gassman does to get this plan of his going is have Detective Tamaso framed for some crime, because he knows the doo-gooder will try to do the right thing and derail this plan.  Next Gassman has to dispense his henchmen to find this video taken by a couple of kids who have proof of this evil plan, proof which has landed in the capable hands of Leito the community activist.

First order of business for our heroes is to bust Damien out of jail, Parkour Kung fu style. Second order of business is to get to District B13 and organize the gangs with the final order of business being disabling the lousy police force guarding the presidential estate and stopping the evil Gassman from convincing the president to raze District B13 via jet missiles. All in a days work for the cop and the community activist.

I guess the main problem with this sequel is that everything that was fresh, new and amazing the first time around just isn’t so fresh, new and amazing anymore. Raffaelli and Belle are still a couple of incredibly athletic dudes and the things that these two cats can do are still mind boggling to visualize, and they’ve even improved as actors over the last couple of years, but that sense of awe that I experienced watching the first movie was oddly missing which meant this version of B13 had to rest a lot of its strength on the story which the original didn’t worry about all that much. Now to that end this movie does have a more complete, more fleshed out story than the first movie, not that this is saying much, but it is still fractured nonsense.

Director Patrick Alessandrin directs this film with gusto and energy but therin lies another problem with this movie. What I wasn’t aware of as yet, three years ago watching the original ‘District B13’, is that I was viewing the work of a great action director in Pierre Morel, and while Alessandrin’s work in this film is commendable he is following the footsteps of a man I have declared a master and the action sequences in his film, while impressive on their own merits, lack the visceral pop and electricity of those that populated the action sequences in ‘District B13’.

It’s too bad that one has to compare the two movies so closely but it is a sequel so what choice is there? If someone chooses to watch this film and they haven’t had the pleasure of viewing the Pierre Morel helmed original then ‘District B13: Ultimatum’ will probably turn out to be a completely acceptable, totally mindless piece of action cinema, but when stacked up against the original, this sequel does find a way to come up short in most every other conceivable category.

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