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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

District 13

Title: District 13
Cast: Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Tony D'Amario, Bibi Naceri, Dany Verissimo
Director: Pierre Morel


District 13 is like The Transporter or Taxi in that Luc Besson is tenuously linked in the creative process somewhere. Modern day Paris - race riots and suburban slums - extrapolated to 2010. The ghettos have been walled in. The worst kind of people separated from the taxpayers. Sorted.

Unless of course you happen to live in an area like District 13 where the heavily armed drug dealers are now in charge. Leïto is trying to fight back stealing drugs from the top guy Taha, and destroying them. Unfortunately Taha's response is to abduct Leïto's sister Lola, which he anticipates and reacts to. But he has no support not even from the last police station who are in the process of with drawing from District 13. The result is Leïto is in prison and Taha has Lola to do anything he wants.

Six months later. Damien is an unvoncentional cop. Hard and violent, but he gets results. District 13 just got a nuclear weapon, a weapon with a 24 hour timer, that they've managed to set off. Damien is the obvious choice to get in there and stop Taha from holding Paris to ransom. Leïto is the obvious choice of a local guide, but why would he want to help those who betrayed him and left his neighbourhood to die? Regardless Leïto and Damien are dropped in District 13 and the clock is ticking.

District 13 is a short film. About 80 minutes long. It spends the first part of the film with two set pieces, setting up Leïto and Damien, then spends the second half letting the characters hit the ground running. Pun intended, District 13 is billed as the free running film. As a film its like reading a whole load of Warren Ellis's Global Frequency back to back - nuclear weapon, tense countdown, with only an inner city free runner to save the day. Action wise it feels a lot like Ong Bak transported to Paris (which is ironic given Ong Bak's on screen message for Luc Besson), free running and kick boxing, non-stop hyper active action.

District 13 is short, sharp, raw, and a whole lot of fun. Easily the best French action film since Brotherhood of the Wolves!

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