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District 13 (Banlieue 13)

DVD Three Stars
District 13, or Banlieue 13, is a French film from Producer Luc Besson and first time feature Director Pierre Morel that was sold quite heavily on the act of Parkour, the urban sport of free running. However here the film is not about Parkour, and what the film-makers have done is to use Parkour to make some fabulous stunts and sequences, it is not the overriding reason for the film.

However, if you know Luc Besson films then you'll know they are filled with stylised action and violence, and here this is no different, it's just that a lot of that action is Parkour or martial arts style.

Plot.pngDistrict13.jpgThe plot is pretty simple. In the future the more violent suburbs of France have been walled off from the centre of Paris, just because they are so dangerous and gang controlled. These Districts have been left in the control of the gangs and the authorities don't go near.

Now you may be forgiven for thinking that this is related to Escape From New York, because in District 13 a truck carrying a nuclear weapon is captured and taken to the local gang to sell to the highest bidder. The problem is that since they opened it the timer started counting down from twenty four hours. So they point it at the centre of Paris and demand a large payment from the Government.

A single cop is sent in and teams up with a local gang member to find the missile and disarm it before it gets launched.


TheFilm.png1 hour 21 minutes 4 seconds
The plot is pretty standard stuff, but what makes it great are the characters, the stylish action, and the direction. It's pretty non-stop entertainment and the film-makers have managed to make a film with Parkour as an integral part of the film rather than it being a film about Parkour. The urban sport is integrated into the action and used to make a stunt even more stunning. Not just Parkour for the sake of it.

The most noticeable thing about the film is the stylised action, some of it is superb, particularly the casino scene, and the rest of it is never dull. It keeps the pace fast and the story and the action leaping forward continuously. This is one of the stronger aspects of the film, there's never a moment that feels dull or slow.

The escalation does provide for some more bizarre and more fanciful scenes during the latter part of the film, but again they are never dull, the entertainment is high and you're continually being dragged along with the action.

District 13 is very well filmed and the action sequences superbly put together, the characters are well written and given some great personalities. They really do come to life on screen and it's quite surprising to realise that a lot of these actors weren't really actors before, and yet they give such good performances.

You'll have no doubt noticed that the lead, Cyril Raffaelli, recently appeared in Die Hard 4.0 (Filmstalker review) doing his unique stunt style while Bruce Willis tried to bring him down.

It really is an entertaining and enjoyable film, and not just for those who are action film fans because a lot of the stunts are so amazing to see.


Picture.png16:9
A strong, clean and sharp picture that copes with the fast paced and often extremely busy scenes. With these great sequences which are so well filmed, the picture performs really well.

Audio.pngDolby Digital 5.1
Both English subtitled and dubbed audio tracks are offered. I listened to the dubbed track and couldn't understand how on earth anyone could listen to it, I'm much more a subtitles kind of guy, I like to hear the original audio.

With the DD5.1 mix the sound of the action sequences is strong and at times rather room shaking. It does a good job of pulling you into the midst of the action although there's often no subtlety to it.


Extras.pngMaking of featurette, Outtakes, Extended casino scene, Trailers, Stephanie Vigroux Documentary, Parkour Vision Documentary
Making of featurette
The featurette is surprisingly long and rather loose and behind the scenes, however it is very informative and gives you a strong look behind the film with plenty from the actors and Director. It's an enjoyable watch.

Outtakes
These are rather amusing and sometimes painful looking. I have to admit I was very surprised that there aren't more outtakes, particularly in the action sequences. However there are a few good ones and rather amusing moments too.

Extended casino scene
The casino scene is the introduction to one of the main characters where the cop takes down an entire casino floor of bad guys in some visually exciting ways. Here we see the entire scene without the finalised audio mix, etc. However it is a great showcase for the stunt work that went on in the film.

Stephanie Vigroux and Parkour Vision Documentaries
These documentaries give an insight into what is Parkour and what it means for people who are part of it. For me I found this rather dull as a lot of the Parkour documentaries I've seen. The biggest problem for these films is that they don't manage to convey the skill and complexity of these stunts, often the stunts just look like a short jump from one wall to another and the camera kills the more technical and dangerous aspects of the sport.

Trailers
A fair mix of trailers are offered for other films as well as District 13 itself.


Overall.pngAlthough there's not a great deal to the plot, the film does provide a great deal of entertainment and enjoyment. The pace and tension are kept high throughout, and the action is superbly created and visualised. The stunts are superb, with some sequences looking just stunning and making you wonder how they could have possibly done it. With good acting, despite the cast including some non-actors it does stand up well.

Enjoyable, entertaining and fast paced, a superb action film although lighter on plot and at some moments just a little too fantastical.


Rent from LOVEFiLM
Buy from Play.com
Buy from Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com
UK IMDB Film Details





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