Sunday, October 19, 2008

District B-13

District B-13 (translated from "Banlieue 13" for its US release) is a French action film... yeah, that's right. A French action film that is good enough to own. Set in the not-too-distant future, France has fallen from grace (I guess surrendering will do that to you) and they've built large walls around the different ghettos them to be run by the gangs and organized crime within. Leito was born and raised in one of these ghettos - District B-13 - and tries to fight the good fight against Taha (the local crime lord). This doesn't sit well with the bad guys though, so they kidnap his sister Lola and get him thrown into prison. Jump forward about six months and a star undercover cop is given a new mission... befriend Leito and enlist his aid in finding and disarming a smart bomb that just happened to find its way into District B-13 and just happened to have a 24-hour timer accidentally triggered.

Original Release: 2004
Running Time: 85 minutes
(Take a refresher course on the rating system.)
Death - $1
On top of people getting shot left and right, there is at least one instance of neck-breaking. And the Good Lord knows I love me some neck breaking. All things considered though, there could have been more "death" death here. More often than not, you are left wondering if that guy is just unconscious or if he's left the mortal plane.

Acting - $1
Let's be honest with ourselves here people. What do YOU expect to get out of a French action movie? I think it is safe to say that none of us anticipate being drawn in to a rich story through the impeccable acting and character development. Well... at least the frogs are consistent. This is in no way a case study for thespians, but it was a bit better than I expected. Some of the lines were awful, but some of the characters were also portrayed surprisingly adequate.

Pump up the Jams - $1
As you might expect from a European quasi-futuristic action movie, there is quite a bit of techno music in the background. I just happen to be a fan of said music, so I dig it. Euro-rap is mixed in here and there as well for a nice added effect.

Action and Ass-Kickery - $2
A lot of the movie pulls from parkour (also known as freestyle running) which is pretty kick ass. The chases, stunts and fight scenes are all far from what you would ever get in an American action flick. Cyril Raffaell plays Damien - the cop character - and is known for his quick-action style. You might remember him from Live Free or Die Hard as the French mercenary but he's been behind the scenes on a ton of big action movies as stunt coordinator. The way he kicks the crap out of people is just awesome, and having TWO people that fight that way in the movie just makes it better.

Billicious - $1
The style, action and soundtrack make District B-13 a definite "Bill Flick". My regular readers will know my distaste for foreign films but even that doesn't detract from my enjoying this movie. Do I expect everyone to like it? Of course not. That's why it's billicious.
Total Rating: $6

I'm going to keep this brief because... well... I'm a little hungover. I'm tired, I have a headache, and the pizza guy just got here so it is time to wrap this up. If you are looking for an interesting action flick and you don't mind subtitles or voice-overs then I would definitely say give District B-13 a try. Feel free to leave some love (or hate) but for me folks, it's pepperoni time.

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