Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

French super producer Luc Besson’s ‘District B13’ is a high flying, ass kicking, adrenaline fueled, and highly entertaining rush of something or another.  I’m just not quite sure what.  Think Circus Du Soleil with guns, drugs and Kung Fu. 

As the film opens we see Leito (David Belle) in his apartment feverishly emptying an extraordinarily large amount of heroin in his bathtub and washing it down the drain.  He had best hurry up because henchman K2 (Tony D’Amario) is upstairs to retrieve his drugs and, along with his crew, is killing anybody who stands in his way.  Soon, Leito is on the run in a foot chase scene which is simply a tour de force (That’s like French for cool as hell I believe).  Leito effortlessly climbs walls, swings on ropes, leaps from building to building all the while getting shot at.  He also manages to kick a little ass in the process.  Just another f’d up day in District B13.

You see District B13 is a barrio of Paris in the near future that has gotten so bad with crime and violence that they’ve walled it away from the rest of Paris and allow the inmates to run it themselves.  Leito does what he can to help, but when the police basically give his sister away to slavery in exchange for the drug boss Tah (Bibi Naceri) Leito does something really bad and is sent away to jail.

Next we meet Captain Damien Tamaso (Cyril Raffaelli).  We know he must be a badass because he reveals to his armed suspects that he is an undercover cop while locked away in an underground vault with seemingly no way out.  This leaves the captain with little recourse except to kill the twenty or so armed guards in yet another amazing high flying action sequence that takes place in an underground casino.

So the movie starts with an introduction to these two amazingly athletic, ass kicking characters, and what they can do, and we’re forty minutes in and the movie still hasn’t really started yet.  Now it’s time to throw in some semblance of a plot so these two dudes can run, jump and roundhouse kick some more sumbitches.  Seems that Tah and his gang have hijacked a police vehicle carrying a super neutron bomb, and the second the case is opened it will start to detonate and explode in 24 hours.  The powers that be convince Captain Tamaso to go into District B13 to defuse the sucker, but he’s never been there so he busts Leito out of the clink and the two of them advance on B13 to handle the bomb and save Leito’s enslaved sister.

That’s pretty much the whole story right there.  They toss in some governmental okey-doke at the end, but for the most part it’s about these two dudes, neither of them professional actors doing what they do best.  Raffaelli is a stunt coordinator, and a damn good one at that, while Belle is the originator of a sport known as Parkour.  Parkour is simply going from point A to point B ignoring all obstacles in your path.   Instead of walking around the desk, just jump over it.  Instead of walking into a building and taking the elevator to the second floor, simply grab a pole outside the building, climb and enter the second floor through a window.  Silly I know, but it’s French.

First time director and Besson protégé Pierre Morrell does a good job in shooting the action, which is all the movie is really, keeping the pace moving briskly and keeping the story out of the way.  I assume the ending has been set up so they can churn these flicks out in some kind of series starring Raffaelli and Belle which would be Sacre Blue with me as this was about as much fun I had on video in a good while.  auf Wiedersehen!  That’s French for later on by the way.

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