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District 13 (DVD)

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Genre: Action & Adventure / Theatrical Release: 2006 / Director: Pierre Morel / Actors: Cyril Raffaelli, Tony D'Amario ... / DVD released 09 October, 2006 at Momentum Pictures Home Ent / Features of the DVD: Dubbed, PAL

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    9 Reviews
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      01.02.2012 10:58
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      A French film to look forward to

      Certificate - 15
      Run time - 84 minutes
      French - Foreign language
      Genre - action comedy
      Year - 2004
      -----------------


      According to some questionable websites a large majority of Frances prisoners are Muslim, be it French born Arabs and Africans or just plain immigrants, all ethnic groups over-represented in the poor of France, the racial lines well and truly drawn in the land of wine and cheese. If President Sarkosy is going to lock up young women for wearing the veil then racial reconciliation is still along way away. Unlike London and Britain's inner cities, the French authorities don't mess around with housing benefit and welfare when it comes to subsidizing the poor to live amongst the rich and middle-classes in the desirable boroughs, the great unwashed of Paris and the like 'drop-kicked' to the outer suburbs, what the Tories plan to do in England, suburbs that quickly become huge concrete towered ethnic slums because of, hence the bias prison population, the backdrop to this wonderfully energetic and original action comedy from over the Channel.

      The stars of the show are Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle, extraordinary young athletic actors who even put Jacky Chan to shame with their physical acting and comedy stunts, the film beginning with one of cinemas greatest ever chase sequences, free running through those concrete jungles of those impoverished Paris suburbs, that sequence alone reason enough to rent this extremely entertaining foreign language film. If Del and Rodney could move this fast in Peckham they would never have to worry about broken lifts and stairwells ever again. Take nothing seriously when you watch District 13.


      -----Cast-----

      Cyril Raffaelli ... Capt. Damien Tomaso
      David Belle ... Leïto
      Tony D'Amario ... K2
      Bibi Naceri ... Taha Bemamud
      Dany Verissimo ... Lola
      François Chattot ... Krüger
      Nicolas Woirion ... Corsini
      Patrick Olivier ... Le colonel
      Samir Guesmi ... Jamel

      --------Plot-------

      Set in the near future of Paris, the white middle-class have had enough of all the crime and poverty and the poorest districts and residents have been 'walled in' by the politicians, now known as District 13, two million strong and mostly ethnic. You need a pass to get past the barricades to go in and you have to hand over your weapons if you're coming out. There are no schools or proper utilities there and definitely no police, the residents left to get on with it, many areas run by gangsters and drug lords.

      After three years of the existence of District 13, a feudal system of sorts has prevailed and some areas extremely no go. The likeable drug dealer Leïto (David Belle) controls one such block, but about to lose his territory to rival gang leader K2 (Tony D'Amario), who has been sent in hard by his boss Taha ( Bibi Naceri), who wants his stolen heroin back.


      Fleeing the scene with his amazing athletic prowess he evades K2s men, but his sexy sister Lola (Dany Verissimo) kidnapped as bait, only to be let down by the cops when he saves her.


      Six months later and Leïto is still in jail and his sis drugged up in the ghetto as Taha's plaything. But not for long, the cops sending in an undercover cop, Capt. Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli), to bust him out, hoping to recruit Leïto for a bizarre mission, to hunt down a stolen 'neutron bomb' that is hidden somewhere in District 13. They have 24 hours to find it and the job a one-way ticket if they fail; the theory being Leïto knows the people, the streets and passageways to get to the bomb in time and supercop Tomaso will do the rest, an alliance needed. But nothing is as it seems in District 13 and whatever they do it may not be enough.

      -------Quote-------
      Tomaso - How long did you live here?
      Leïto - I left school at 14. They knocked it down.


      -----Ratings-----

      Action ****
      Drama ****
      Acting ****
      Plot **
      Comedy ****

      --------Conclusion-------

      It's quite simply hard to dislike this film. Even your granny would love it, the subtleties forgotten for once as the action and comedy takes over your senses. As silly as it gets when the bomb turns up its just great fun as the two leads bounce and jump around the ghetto with great gusto, some high kicks thrown in to dispatch the bad guys. It has a real feel of Honk Kong cinema about it with its clunky gang dialogue and lavish chase and gunfights, built around the rather excellent and extremely likeable lead actors, it's a must see as far as foreign language action movies go. You will love it!

      Its more slapstick than gruesome and the violence cartoon kapow comic book over anything nasty. I'm not recommending it for young kids or anything but there's nothing here to make you wince, more Gérard Pirès 'Taxi' than Mathieu Kassovitz 'La Haine.

      Directed by Pierre Morel and produced by the legendary Luc Besson it's a film that tries hard to draw the biggest male French audience possibly by being a bit bonkers and cliché and certainly not the film you're expecting from the dust cover and political themes it suggests. It does make comments on Frances racial divide but done in a way that you don't really notice. I'm sure everyone in the Paris multiplexes and cinemas were well aware on that score and don't need telling.


      With its rather cheap sounding - but not looking - 12 million Euro budget it only did 10 million back, a big surprise, this one a rare treat in French cinema, for once not a load of lugubrious people talking and smoking too much and then sleeping with each others wives. I believe it's currently showing on Freeview on one of the film channels and definitely worth setting the timer for guys. Only spoilsports won't like this one.


      ---------Ratings----------
      Imdb.com - 7.1/10.0 (29,456 votes)
      Metacritic.com - 70% critics approval rating
      Rottentomatos.com - 74% critics approval rating
      Radio Times Film Year Book - 3 /4
      Leonardo Maltin's Film Year Book - 3. 5/5

      ---------Critics--------

      The Chicago Sun-Times - "If anyone is going to persuade fan boys to attend a movie with French subtitles, that man is Luc Besson".

      The Newyorker -"Pleasurable nonsense and another reminder that one of the great pulls of cinema is the spectacle of bodies in blissful motion".

      The Daily Telegraph - "If you like your action comic-book style, with the emphasis more on slapstick than on blood and gore, this silly but slick sequel is a great way to get your fix".

      The LA Times - "The chief motivation for watching this film is to see people bouncing off walls. That being the case, you could just as easily watch neighborhood kids on a sugar rush".

      The Daily Star -"This is the first action movie in which bombs serve a humanitarian end".
      ----------------------------------

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        04.01.2011 14:41
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        Exhilarating parkour film about two men on opposite sides of the law with a common goal

        Although I love the never ending supply of films that the English speaking world throws out on a daily basis, I do love watching the occasional foreign language film. Korean films are particularly good on the whole, or at those that seem to make it onto our channels seem to be. There are also some decent French films if you know where to look. Indeed, foreign language films are often classier and more stylish in many ways than an American or English film, and there is something about District 13 that speaks of fun and class.

        It's always hard to translate a title, and quite often the meaning of a title can get lost in translation. The film's title, 'Banlieue 13', does translate into 'District 13' but it goes deeper than that. Set in the near future, it is set in Paris, a city that is separated into a number of arrondissements, many of which house the suburbs, and I suppose 'banlieu' would lie between the two, relating to the areas around the outer areas of the city. I think it's important to grasp this contrast, as 'district' can be a bit misleading. In this near futuristic Paris, a wall has been built around the central, more controllable areas of the city, housing the more respectable members of society. Outside of the walls, schools, police stations and other symbols of society and order are diminishing, and in banlieue 13 in particular, they have virtually disappeared.

        The plot revolves around two main characters. Leito is a small time crook, jailed by a corrupt cop looking for an easy way out when faced with drugs baron Taha's threats. Meanwhile, Damien is the elite cop sent on a mission into B13 to retrieve a nuclear weapon stolen by Taha's men. Leito has a chance at freedom if he acts as a guide to Damien, and the two form an unlikely pairing to save B13 from nuclear destruction and also to rescue Leito's sister, held captive by Taha. The bomb has been activated and will detonate in less than 24 hours.

        However, this plot is quite shallow and there really isn't anything more to it than this. Sure, there are some twists to the tale, but nothing particularly surprising. No, the main thing is that this is a vehicle for the two main actors' showcasing: their acrobatics. Playing Damien is Cyril Raffaelli, a celebrated stunt coordinator and stuntman. Here, he has the chance to do a bit of acting as well as showcase his own martial arts talents. Alongside him, though, is someone rather different in David Belle, playing Leito. Belle is perhaps the reason that we have parkour, also known as free running, a sport that involves high levels of agility and uses the surrounding to move around. The opening scene sees Belle leaping from building to building, scaling railings and performing gravity defying tricks, much to the frustration and bemusement of his pursuers.

        However, Raffaelli is not outdone. He has his own brilliant opening scene which allows him to showcase his own talents, namely his martial arts, on a sting. Impressive filming adds to this, allowing for effective visuals and breathtaking action. Indeed, the visuals throughout are impressive, with scenes slowed down and speeded up on a regular basis, the pumping French soundtrack of mixed rap and dance really adding to the mood of the film. It matters little that the plot has minimal depth, as the action scenes and the effects of watching such breathtaking feats really does take over your mind when you're watching it, and the plot really does start to play second fiddle.

        It's not perfect, by any means. You can really tell that acting is not the first port of call for these two gents, and a couple of the scenes are a little uncomfortable. The dialogue is fast and furious, and I find it hard to tell whether the acting is wooden or not, as I didn't completely get the tone and wording as I would do on a slower speaking French film. My French understanding doesn't quite stretch the fast and frenetic pace and slang that this film throws up throughout. The moments I do pick up though are entertaining, and you can tell that there's a huge amount of slang being used. They also use verlan, a very Parisien slang which reverses words, splitting them in half, putting the first half at the end and the second half first. It works really well and the stoccato of harsh sounds this results in really drives home some of the dialogue.

        When it comes to the subtitles, though, I was a little confused. I understand that it's not about literal translations as much as getting the meaning, but some of the subtitle work really doesn't capture the essence of the speech. This ranged from the simple mistakes to those which actually had quite an impact on the sentence at the time, and I was quite glad I could understand some of the spoken dialogue, as I may have gathered a wrong impression of parts of the plot had I not been able to. I think this is a big error and wasn't impressed.

        I won't let this downgrade my rating of the film, though, as it is very well made indeed. It has spawned a sequel which isn't quite as good and has a very flimsy plot to hold the two main leads together again once more. This first film really takes the lead of the two, although it's well worth watching both for some more enjoyable parkour and martial arts action. If you can get the feel and meaning of the title and the subsequent scenes, then it's well worth following up, and you're likely to enjoy it more. A thrilling and entertaining frenetic hour and a half or so that showcases some high levels of talent and does so without spoiling it by throwing in too heavy a political statement or attempting to force the film in any way at all. Great balance, even if it's not perfect. Recommended.

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        09.01.2010 22:37
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        All singing, all dancing Fighting film

        This is one of the coolest French films of recent years, its a strange film being a mix of Martial Arts and the street running trend 'Parkour', produced by Luc Besson this is set in a near future Paris, where a particular suburb is sealed off as it is just so rough and controlled by gangs.

        A tough cop Damien(Cyril Raffaelli) is sent into the sealed off district when gang members steal a missile and threaten to use it, his job is to shut the missile off before it explodes, to do so he enlists the help of Leito (David Belle) a local vigilante who has been in prison for drug dealing, he wants to take the gangsters down as they have turned his sister into a Junkie, together these two heros have to take out a sea of thugs and make Paris safe before the gangsters blow up the City, or so they think!!

        Cast:

        Cyril Raffaelli ... Capt. Damien Tomaso
        David Belle ... Leïto
        Tony D'Amario ... K2
        Bibi Naceri ... Taha Bemamud
        Dany Verissimo ... Lola
        François Chattot ... Krüger
        Nicolas Woirion ... Corsini
        Patrick Olivier ... Le colonel
        Samir Guesmi ... Jamel
        Jérôme Gadner ... K2 boy 1
        Tarik Boucekhine ... Yoyo (para 1)

        Overall

        I really enjoyed this film, it is action packed and the subtitles don't take away from the fun and action at all, although some things aren't perfectly translated. I found the jumping, climbing and fighting were excellent and its a film i've not tired of after many viewings. Rafaelli is fine as the good cop trying to save the city but for me Belle is the star, he is awesome a real handsome action hero and the way he jumps, climbs and twists is exceptional and utterly watchable, the plot takes a back seat at times and some of the villains have more ham in them than a Bacon Double Cheeseburger, but it all adds to the fun of this charming and under rated film.

        The DVD cost us £4 from Sainsburys and is worth watching before checking out the sequel.

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        03.12.2009 21:11
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        Cliched narrative but excellent style

        note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room

        French films are stereotypical for placing artistic concerns above all else, and so it's not often that we hear about French action films. The closest we've gotten to that is the films of Luc Besson, who directed the hugely popular film Leon, and here he writes the script for a film that fully takes advantage of the burgeoning "sport" parkour (aka free running), which involves people performing death-defying stunts over rooftops and in other unbelievable locations, emphasising the grace and technical aspects.

        This can be quite cleverly and briskly harnessed into an action film arena, and here it is rather brilliantly. There isn't too much to speak of plot wise - District B13 is a slum area in France, and it has a lot of trouble with gangs, so when a neutron bomb is planted somewhere in the slums, a gang of free runners team up to put a stop to it, including the creator of parkour himself, David Belle.

        Thoroughly ridiculous though it might be, it delivers some exuberant thrills due to the relative novelty of parkour, and here it gives our heroes an almost Superman-like level of dominion over the police and other gangs trying to catch them. As such, this is not a bad film by any mans, thanks largely to its freneticism and fast-pace. It is without a doubt a bit cheesy and generic at times, but the parkour on display here is fantastic and more than compensates for it. The cinema du look movement is on full display here - American and French cinema clashing to create what you see before you, something the film's writer, Luc Besson, successfully tried to forge here. The results here are mixed narratively, but certainly watchable and stunning aesthetically.

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        12.07.2009 09:06
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        An absolute rollercoaster ride of adrenaline

        From the creative mind of Luc Besson the stylish French director of the Big Blue, Nikita, Leon and AngelA, this film is a violent action film set in the heart of urban Paris, although he did only write this and not direct it. The film is by the same people who created the Transporter so is similar in many senses being fast, action packed and with some wicked stunts.


        District 13 of the title is a rough tough suburb of Paris, cut off from the rest of the city by a manned wall allowing very little entry and exit, it is violent, controlled by gangs and lawless. Unfortunately the City has to take notice of this gritty little outpost when one of the gangs steals a bomb and aims it at the City Centre. The authorities realise they have to stop the bomb and send in their best officer Captain Damian Tamaso (Cyril Raffaelli) to stop the bomb. As he doesn't know the area they recruit a prisoner who used to live in the area, Leito (David Belle) as his guide and blackmail him into helping.

        The guys enter the walled off district and begin the long haul to find the gang and disengage the bomb, this involves incredible fights, fantastic stunts and some amazing acrobatics, the fighting and a lot of movement is based around Parkour (Free Running), this is using anything that comes to hand to jump run or move, so people may jump off large walls, leap through windows or fall down staircases to speed things up, it is artistic, looks fantastic and Belle in particular is absolutely wonderful. Raffaelli is excellent as the highly rated cop who fights hard and does anything to succeed while Belle is a great criminal with a heart, good looking, tough and absolutely balletic in his movements.

        The film is straightforward, it can be seen with subtitles or in an English dubbed version on the DVD, either way you will understand whats going on as the action far outweighs the words in this film, the two leads work well together, Belle in particular has star quality and lights up the screen whenever he is on it.

        In many ways the film reminded me of Escape from New York, with the criminal Snake Pliskin being dropped into a walled Prison City to save the city, this is similar in that sense, the city is very much a character in its own right, dark, moody and utterly broken, strangely there aren't too many special effects here and Paris does a fantastic job of looking like all of those things.

        The film also reminded me in a way of a computer beat em up, a little burst of story and then into the martial arts with a large group of beatable foes and the odd massive end of level baddie. All of this is actually fine though when the action is this good and the Parkour is absolutely this good, the story doesn't need to be Citizen Kane.

        It's a great fun film and if you like anything involving martial arts, this is for you. The soundtrack is cool, loads of heavy hip hop beats, the villain is scary in a slightly camp way and the parkour rules!!

        The DVD is on sale for £3 at HMV currently and includes:

        Trailers
        Making of
        Extended Scenes
        Outtakes
        Documentary
        Parkour Vision
        English Dubbed Version

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          19.04.2009 08:25
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          District B13

          District B13 is the English version of French movie Banlieue 13. District B13 is an action film and was released in year 2004. Movie was directed by Pierre Morel. The writer and producer of the movie was Luc Besson.

          Cast and Crew:

          David Belle portrays Leito.Cyril Raffaelli plays a role of Damien, a police officer.
          Dany Verissimo plays a role of Leito's sister Lola.
          Bibi Naceri portrays Taha.


          In 2010, all districts are surrounded by walls; Gangsters are invading in great numbers at districts. The buildings are forsaken from the owners. They don't have schools, hospitals and even police is also with them. District B13 is one of them and this area is ruled by Taha. Leito is against all this and he wants to bring him down. Leito capture large amount of drugs so Lord Taha sends his punks to recover the drugs and to kill Leito. Leito destroys the drugs and run away. They kidnap his sister Lola. He somehow manages to rescue her sister and kidnaps Taha. He takes him to police but police captures Leito and allow Taha to take Leito's sister Lola. After six months officer Damien penetrates casino and arrest some gangsters. Damien is very tough and honest guy.

          Here Taha has stolen some nuclear weapon and wants to destroy district B13. Damien is assigned a mission to find and destroy the weapon. He thinks that Leito is a perfect man to make a team because he is the only person to reach at Taha's base. Damien acts as a prisoner and he plans to escape with Leito. They escape from prison but Leito is not ready to believe that Damien is prisoner. Damien tells him the truth and wants to be with him to deactivate the weapon. Leito agrees because he has to rescue his sister. They surrender to Taha to reach at his base. Taha start blackmailing government. His demands his very high so government refuses to give him ransom. Leito and Damien escape from his base and Taha's punk's kills him because he is bankrupt now. Leito and Damien find Lola and weapon. Now what happens next? Do they able to deactivate the bomb? Who has planned to destroy district B13? To know all the answers watch "District B13". There is far more crisis one can think off.

          I never heard the name of this movie before I watched it. I was browsing movies on IMDB and suddenly found this one. The rating and reviews are good enough to make me watch this movie and believe me while watching this movie I was stick to that only. This is a great action movie. The plot is pretty simple and straight forward. You don't have to use your brains to understand the storyline. The plot is not obligating but you should check this movie for great action. The story is compensated for real action sequences. I bet that action will take your breath away. The lead actors are athletes they have demonstrated the sports called Parkour in this movie. Parkour is an art of moving one point to another, no matter what is in you way. The opening scene is totally based upon Parkour. David Belle is running and jumping from one window to another and climbing apartments and buildings. This scene is very similar to opening scene of Casino Royale. There are plenty of gunfights in District B13 and other action scenes are also cool. All stunts are real and no computer generated affects and camera work is involved. Actors have shown there real skills of athleticism. Another attractive thing in this movie is the performances by David and Cyril. Performances by both the actors are Mind-blowing. To pump up your subwoofer listen the soundtracks of the movie, they are really hard hitting. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and I strongly recommend you this movie. A must watch for action lovers. That's all I can give you. Thanks for reading.

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            14.11.2006 17:08
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            Interesting film but deeply flawed - let's hope the action is better in Bond

            Most things in life cost something, be it food, shelter or just having a good time. However, I always assumed that running was free. You get up, leave the house and run for your hearts content. Therefore, I was quite shocked to see a new type of activity called ‘Free Running’; yes we know it’s free! Turns out that Free Running is a form of extreme sport that has you running over objects and buildings. The ‘sport’ is particular popular in France were it has been used in a recent action film ‘District 13’. Can this new form of action give ‘District 13’ the uniqueness it will need to overcome its foreign origins and diluted market?

            The initial story premise of ‘District 13’ is pure hokum, but still quite good. In 2010 the slums of Paris have become so overrun with crime that the authorities decide that rather than try to deal with the problem they will enclose the areas into districts and let them rule themselves. With no schools, police or any other government agencies the districts fall further into chaos. ‘District 13’ is one such place and is controlled by an evil drug dealer. The only man that stands against him is Leito, an athletic vigilante. He discovers, with the help of a police officer, that an advanced bomb is being held within the drug den and they must work together to save Paris.

            The story is pure science fiction-lite, but even so impinges on the action. After the first half of the film we are given lengthy exchanges in dialogue rather than action – it seems that any French film that is made at the moment has to have some commentary on the America interactions in Iraq – get on with the action!

            It is the action elements that prove to be the saving grace of this film, especially those that include Free Running. You may remember this from the last set of BBC 1 adverts that saw a bunch of men dressed in red running towards the screen. In Free Running the athlete jumps over large gaps, runs along walls and uses their momentum to get to places you would not think reachable. Add this to an action scene and you get gritty western fighting with the skill and dexterity of Jackie Chan. The scene near the start of the movie, in particular, is truly excellent. Leito is on the run within a block of flats from a gang. He proceeds to run everywhere, over their heads, out of the window, on the balconies and finally the rooftops. Seeing real people do these very dangerous stunts in this new and urban way is fantastic.

            And here lies another criticism I have for the film – using your best scene first. The James Bond franchise has often introduced the film with an action set piece but the viewer is pretty sure that there will be many more where that came from. In the case of ‘District 13’ this is just not true. No other part of the film compares at all to the action sequence that occurs in the first ten minutes. You spend the next 80 mins hoping that they will try and create something similar using Free Running but instead the film reverts to more standard martial arts and run ‘n’ gun fighting. A real disappointment.

            From a technical point of view the film does well. The budget was obviously not high but by setting it in the near future the director, Pierre Morel, was able to use present day slums. The camerawork used was exciting and showed the Free Running aspects off well, with the gritty and urban feel it needs. The editing was not intrusive and allowed you to watch the stunts rather than constantly jump cutting which is refreshing for a modern action film. The film had a strong feeling of urban decay throughout and made the idea of sections of cities being cornered off believable. However, all the good work here can not make up for a very drab script and a series of action sequences that get progressively more boring.

            In conclusion, is this film worth buying or renting? I would say definitely no to buying as there is little rewatch value and the film is not great. I would rent it for something a bit different and the great action at the start. The film is let down greatly by the reliance on script over action, especially as the film progresses. I was majorly disappointed that the action was unable to live up to the promise of the first great scene. Why on Earth did they think it was a great idea to start so well and not do anything else – each minute you sit in anticipation for the next great bit of Free Running only for you to spend the film disappointed. There are elements of postivity in this film but they number too few to make up for the poor script and action. However, I am glad that the new James Bond film has taken a leaf out of this film's Free Running example and we will see Bond being urban and gritty.


            Director: Pierre Morel
            Year: 2004
            Starring: Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle
            DVD Price: £11.47 amazon.uk
            £11.99 play.com

            Extras

            This film is French so you have the option of watching the DVD using either subtitles or a dub. As there is a lot of action the subtitles are not too bad to follow. It should also be pointed out that the dub is pretty good, giving the characters voices that suit them well. I think that neither option will inhibit your viewing, so choose what you prefer.

            The other extras are not great but there are a couple of interesting documentaries on the making of the film and, more importantly, the art of Free Running. However, I would not go out and get this film for the extras alone.

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              04.09.2006 11:19
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              A fantastic action and stunt filled extravaganza

              Luc Besson, director of such classics as Leon, Nikita & Subway, has, of late, been concentrating on writing and producing out and out action films. Taxi, Taxi 2, Transporter 1 & 2 and Jet Li's Kiss of The Dragon all coming from his pen and producing skills in the last 5 years or so.
              All these films have a few things in common, they are short on overall plot but high on action, unbelievable stunts and are always chock full of rip-roaring excitement. District 13 changes nothing at all, the formula is exactly the same, after all why change anything when it is doing so well.

              District 13 is the ghetto of Paris, it is so reviled and hated by the majority of the city that they have built a massive wall around the whole district, and have police checkpoints on the only exits from there. Hidden away from the rest of the city the District has become more than a ghetto, it is a lawless, no go area, run by gangs of criminals at war with each other.

              When one of the major ganglords gets hold of a new 'clean' bomb by stealing it from a military shipment and targets it at the centre of Paris the authorities have to not only acknowledge the troublesome district but come up with some plan to save the city. They send in their best officer, the one man they know is capable of stopping the potential disaster. To help him get around the district and find his way to the ganglord they get him a guide, a former resident of the district and now languishing in prison for killing a police officer in District 13 six months earlier.

              District 13 is pretty much a reworking of John Carpenter's classic Escape From New York. The setting is slightly in the future (2010) in walled off area full of criminals just like Escape, in fact the whole basis of the plot is the same really. Unusually though this doesn't matter as much as it would do normally, mainly cos of the inclusion of some raw martial arts style fighting and some jaw dropping, astounding Le Parkour/Free Running acrobatics. The Le Parkour is the main selling point of the film and is probably the main reason the film, French with subtitles, actually made it to some multiplexes over here!

              Le Parkour for those who don't know what it is is a sport/movement originated by the star David Belle that involves travelling from one point to another by the shortest route possible, whether that means going over walls, up buildings, across roofs etc. Also known as extreme jumping it is best known in the UK from the BBC advert (starring Belle) where a man leaps across the roofs of London to get to his TV.

              The knowledge that this was going to be the first film to include Le Parkour as part of it was my main reason for wanting to see it. I love the originality of it and it seems to me to be a natural progression for it to end up in a movie.
              The whole opening scene just shows this, it is an eye popping, mind blowing chase through an apartment building, across roof tops, over walls etc is like nothing I've ever seen in a movie before, its visual audaciousness takes your breath away. David Belle, playing Lieto, is a European Jackie Chan!
              This is also true of the opening, introductory sequence for the cop, Damien (Cyril Raffaelli, stuntman for many Besson films, one of the twins in Kiss of The Dragon). While not as good as the Le Parkour of Belle Raffaelli's martial arts skills are impressive and his fighting style is fast paced, visually striking and rather violent!

              There is little characterisation, it is an action film after all, and neither Belle nor Raffaelli can act that well but the pair's skills dominate the film and their respective talents at their specialised subjects are more than enough to make you see it. It fair rattles along to its conclusion, barely leaving you enough breath to think about the sparseness of the actual story, or that it is a complete rip off.

              District 13 is certainly a great film, well made and superbly edited. Directing is not too fancy but neither is it bog standard boring. Everything to do with the making of this film is spot on perfect, it may not be a classic but it will be one I will watch again and again when it comes out on DVD! If you like a good all out action film and don't mind subtitles then this is a must see. If you have seen and lover the Jason Statham films then this is something that you just have to add to your rental list. If you like or are interested in Le Parkour/Free Running then you just have to see this!

              Finally there is a very weird subtitle of a line in the film that is curiously anachronistic. At one stage Damien says something to Lieto which is translated as 'like the swells you diss'. While I get the gist of what he is saying it is a very odd translation. I would love to know what the actual French he said was!

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                02.08.2006 16:54
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                Great pace, great action, let's go free running!

                FILM ONLY REVIEW


                Free Running - A now quite popular urban sport in which runners attempt to traverse surroundings in a fluid and aethetically pleasing way using flips, somersaults and gymnastic techniques. Also one of the few things that you can do in London without having to pay a congestion charge. Give it two weeks.

                Free running is the basis of District 13 or Banlieue 13 as its known in France. It's a French film by the way. It came out a couple of years ago when I happened to be living in Paris for my year abroad. Sadly I never got to see it for one reason or another and it passed me by. Apart from posters, the publicity wasn't very good and therefore it didn't really stick in my head. England was publicity central for this film. Lots of frequent adverts for the film and trailers in the cinemas.

                District 13 is an area which has been walled and fenced from the rest of Paris by the goverment due to uncontrollable crime and massive gang warfare. There is a police presence both outside and inside, but it seems that law and order are not really main concerns. Keeping the peace seems to be more important than actual headway in arrests. After all, most of the gangs have more weapons than the police. It is a society that is eating itself through chaos. Imagine Mad Max, but in a Parisian suburb and you will have an idea what this film entails. After a local, Leito, gets put in prison (rather unfairly as well) the main gang leader Taha controls the area and keeps Leito's sister, Lola, drugged and helpless. Six months later, a policeman called Damien has the job of infiltrating District 13 to defuse a neutron bomb that has been hijacked from a military van. Taha plans to sell the bomb. Damien therefore poses as a prisoner and breaks out Leito whilst in a prison transport van and together they must stop the bomb and rescue Leito's sister. Is the plot a bit silly? Maybe, but as usual, the plot takes a bit of a backseat to the action and if its action you want then strap yourself in.

                From the beginning of the film you are immersed. The stylised opening sequence draws you in and the music and action keep you there. To my knowledge, this is the first film that utilised free running as a main focus point for the action. There are martial art sequences of sorts, but the feats accomplished by Leito and Damien are quite astounding really. They are both energetic, fit and push themselves hard. Neither of the actors themselves are familiar to me, but I think they will be a hotter commodity in France after this film. K2, one of the henchmen for Taha, is really funny as well and when you see him you realise why he is called K2. Lola is also quite cute and has a lot of moxy, but we don't really see that much of her. A film where the men take centre stage in an action film. That'll never happen.

                It really is an unusual film, it is an action film with guns, car chases and fighting, but all of these are mixed up in such a way that you really are on the edge of your seat. The bar is certainly raised a little and Luc Besson's production and writing gives the film a gritty, realistic feel despite the slightly sci-fi setting. I say this as its set in 2010 and is fantastical to an extent.

                One thing I would say is that the film, for me, seemed to be over quite quickly. Probably because when you enjoy something, time seems to speed up. The last twenty minutes also seemed a little rushed. Not a bad thing, but too many things were brought into play at once and it just seemed a bit odd. You will know what I mean if you can watch it. If you do decide to, and I recommend that you do, please for the love of God watch it in French with subtitles. Mainly because the American voices for the released version are absolutely dire. Over the top American machismo gone wrong. If you don't like subtitles then you may find it bearable. I just enjoy watching the foreign films in the language that it was meant to be seen in. A better experience in my opinion.

                Most of the soundtrack is instrumental, but that usually works better as you concentrate on the beat and therefore it heightens the action. There are a couple of French rap songs thrown in for good measure, but only when the credits are about to roll.
                Great action sequences, really funny in places and full of inventiveness and style. Transporter 2 this isn't and that's reason enough to see this film. You won't be disappointed I guarantee. Enjoy:)

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              • Product Details

                It's 2013 and Parisian ghetto District 13 has become so dangerous the authorities have walled it in and left its inhabitants to rot. But when neutron weapon is stolen by a ghetto gangmember, enter super-cop Damien (Cyril Raffaelli) and wrongly-imprisoned ghetto-dweller Leito (David Belle). They're both hard-as-nails and experts in Le Parkour, an extreme sport involving wall scaling, roof-running and building-to-building leaping... From the pen of multi-talented action maestro Luc Besson (director of Leon, producer of The Transporter) comes a full throttle action-thriller with physical thrills and spills to rival even Ong-Bak!