Wednesday, 29 October 2008

District 13

DISTRICT 13 (2004)

Directed by: Pierre Morel
Written by: Luc Besson & Bibi Naceri
Starring: David Belle & Cyril Raffaelli

Now here is a breath of fresh air. An action film so streamlined, so action packed and so much fun, District 13 reminds us of why these types of films can be so darn entertaining. Written and produced by Luc Besson and helmed by ace French cinematographer, Pierre Morel (Unleashed), this a film that combines inventive action, quick-fire editing and even some decent acting, into a frenetic fireball of action.

It’s 2010 and the Paris ghettos have been sectioned off by a gigantic wall. Within this wall, gangs reign and corruption runs rampant with only Leito (David Belle) trying to hold on to some humanity by running the only non-crooked apartment block. Up to his neck in trouble after nicking a boatload of drugs from local kingpin, Taha (Bibi Naceri) he soon finds himself joining forces with super-cop Damien (Cyril Raffaelli) when the policeman needs help tracking down a stolen nuclear weapon that is being hidden within the ghettos. And that’s it: two daredevil heroes trying to recover a bomb from a heap of bad guys. And quite honestly, that’s all it needs to be.

Bringing two distinctive types of action to the fray, Belle and Raffaelli ooze charisma, energy and style as they throw themselves into increasingly dangerous situations. Belle excels at his “parkour,” a free running sport that involves flipping, somersaulting and squeezing though and over any kind of object or building, while Raffaelli (the smaller blonde twin from Kiss of the Dragon) brings his considerable martial arts skills to some very brutal fights. The opening forty minutes or so is dedicated to simply showcasing these two athletes’ talents, which are simply a joy to watch. Rafaelli’s one man assault on a bad-guy-infested casino is a standout action set piece.

Backing them up is an eclectic array of supporting actors, some fine rapid cut editing and Morel manages to keep a handle on things, just stopping short of making proceedings overly ridiculous. Momentum (an apt name for a company releasing such an adrenaline soaked film) has packed the disc with some satisfying extras including trailers, outtakes, a making of, and a look at the sport of parkour. An excellent package all round and if you are looking for pure unadulterated action, then snap District 13 up now.

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