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District B13 [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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District B13: Paris, 2010. An isolation wall surrounds the ghetto cities of District B13. Within these walls, without effective law enforcement, gang rule is absolute. Damien is a member of an elite police squadron, highly trained in martial arts. He goes undercover to infiltrate a gang in order to defuse a neutron bomb and save District B13 from annihilation. Damien recruits the help of a criminal named Leito - whose only goal is to save his sister from the clutches of the same gang.
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Free running taken to it's extreme along with martial arts made this film so enjoyable to watch. It comes as an english version which is ok but I watched it again in it's original french and enjoyed it even more (maybe because I could follow the story line much better having already seen it in english), watching it in english the first time was very strange as the accents did not seem right for the characters, had they had french accents instead of ,I think they were predominately 'Cockney' I personally think the film would have worked better in english, I did'nt think it did. Story wise has been done before with slight differences in it's modern up to date outlook. Two main characters one born and brought up within the confines of the district, the other a paris cop both work together to bring down a corrupt government department. You could tell the story within 5 minutes of the film starting but the action is just so gripping it pulls you along and before you know it it is over. Again what more can I say. SUPERB
I watched this film about 5 times at my local multiplex. So I'm holding out for the non-dubbed version because I liked the french accents.
Only minus points. It's just a little too obvious that the baddie gang and the lead male are all part of the same troupe. Sorry. But I'm not a big fan of male pattern hair loss. In a hero type. And I'm not a big fan of such obvious political hogwash.
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Part buddy-buddy movie features crime-fighting Damian (stunt-turned actor Cyril Raffaelli, `Kiss of the Dragon') and ex-thug Leito (David Belle), both of whom have to join forces to accomplish the missions of their own. Not much is original, I admit, as far as the script by Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri (the latter also appears as the mobster) is concerned, but we are not watching this film for the story, and you should know it.
[EYE-POPPING STUNTS] The film will grab your attention from the opening section, where Leito runs away from the thugs sent from the gangster. For incredibly agile David Belle, jumping on the rooftops from one building to the other (like Jackie Chan in `Rumbles in Bronx') is not enough. Before doing these breath-taking stunts, he actually climbs down on the wall of the building, jumping from a balcony to the one below. And that's only the beginning of the eye-popping action sequences, in which like Buster Keaton he keeps running inside and outside of the buildings, and his rhythmical movements are often so beautiful that you might forget that he is really doing a death-defying actions.
[NO WIRE, NO CGI] Cyril Raffaelli is also great, showing the martial arts skills only the real stunt persons can reveal. You just have to see their stunts that are done by the actors themselves without using any wire and special effects (that's why it was shot in Romania, where the regulations are less strict). Their stunts remind the film fans of one Thai movie `Ong-Bak,' but the stunts in this French actioner are done in a different style with more vertical movements and less bone-crunching fighting. And they are both fantastic.
This is a non-stop French action hugely entertaining with incredible actions. You may not like the preposterous story, but once these actions start, you just cannot blink a second.
The star actors are athletes displaying their abilities in the newest sport called, Parkour. It is a type of hybrid form of running and jumping in urban settings, inspired by the martial arts. All stunts were performed by the principal actors, themselves.
The English dub track is intended for a British audience, but that is not too distracting. Cool music soundtrack that adds to the suspense.
I bought this because I could not rent it. Glad I bought it. Worth the $30 or so.
In addition to the eye-popping parkour, this movie is also a very interesting look into contemporary French politics and urban culture. France has its own social problems regarding racism, classism, and the condition of the ghettos just bordering Paris proper (the riots that took place in these housing projects in the Summer of 2005 could have been taken directly from B13's script).
The storyline is mostly about a detective who finds himself on the inside of the ghetto gang wars, only to find that the government has a secret plot to blow up the ghettos. He and David Belle go through a series of instances where they learn to trust one another and find the true villains behind the problems in B13. David Belle plays the good guy. He's a local who enjoys a more or less nuetral role due to his level-headedness (save for when his sexy lilttle sister gets kidnapped, catapulting him into the thick of the ghetto underworld). He's a convincing and exciting actor who feels totally natural in this role. His physique and athleticism will provide many points of pleasure for those inclined to observe such things.
Keywords for this film include: french hiphop, gangs, street fashion, parkour, underworld, drugs, pimped rides, sex, violence, corruption, politics, underworld, hiphop, urban, class warfare, terrorism, France, ghetto, arab, black, white, racism, free running
However, this Blu-ray release is extremely questionable because the only form of subtitles on this French film are closed captions for the hearing impared, which contain unintentionally hillarious descriptions of every sound effect and physical action in the movie in addition to a translation of the dialogue. This is doubtlessly helpful for customers who are hearing impared and should be included, but should not be the only option available because it gets fairly annoying very quickly for viewers who don't need that kind of description. Because the limited theatrical release featured a perfectly normal subtitle track, its exclusion here is both puzzling and highly bothrsome. The only other option for viewing the film is a poor English dub which serves as the default soundtrack (unless you are fluent in French and can leave the subtitles completely off.) Unfortunately, even with Pierre Morel's rising popularity, this is a older release now and I highly doubt it will be corrected. I assume the regular DVD version suffers from the same problem but can't confirm that because I have never seen it in that form.
It's still a fun movie and very much worth watching if you can get past this issue, but be forwarned when making your purchasing choices. I definately watch the movie less than I would if it had a proper subtitle track.
To make a not-so-long story shorter: Do-gooding ghetto dweller (Leïto/David Belle) becomes a thorn in the side of the local gang lord (Taha/Bibi Naceri), and ends up thrown in jail because the cops are corrupt. Fast forward six months, and do-gooding cop (Damien/Cyril Raffaelli) needs an escort through the hazardous B13 to recover a stolen nuclear missle. Leïto initially prefers Damien drop dead, but reluctantly teams up with him to rescue Leïto's sister Lola who was taken by Taha six months before.
Again, the plot is not the draw here; it's the action sequences that take center stage. To their credit, Bibi Naceri does an entertaining turn as the big baddie, there's ample comic relief from Tony D'Amario (who sadly passed away in 2005) as henchman #1, "K2," and Raffaelli and Belle accomplish a passable level of acting that took other action stars, for example Schwarzenegger, multiple films to achieve.
Now that we've addressed the good, onto the bad: the audio dub on this movie is HORRIBLE (yes, the adjective is deserving of all caps). My preference is for subtitles anyway, but for no reason I can discern, Magnolia closed-captioned the dub instead of *translating* the french. Merde! Also, I couldn't care less about the hideous box cover, but the menus are loud, ugly and difficult to navigate. Silver lining? At least they properly subtitled the hour long making-of bonus feature.
Should Magnolia release the 2009 sequel, I'm hoping that they scrap the audio dub altogether for a proper subtitling job and give us more extras with Raffaelli and Belle.