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In Movies & TV

Parkour overwhelms "District B13" story


When the corrupt rule the government and the under world, the only thing people can do is fight back. In the French film "District B13" ("Banlieue 13"), opening this weekend at the Times Cinema, an ex-criminal and an undercover cop must combine forces against both a gang lord and a corrupt government official.

Set in Paris 2010, the ghettos of the city have been walled off to keep the scum in and away from the taxpaying citizens. Gang and drug lord Taha (Bibi Naceri) has one area under his control via a private army and the fact that the police are scared of him. One man, Leito (David Belle), will stand up against him, but has the police betray him, letting Taha take his sister Lola (Dany Verissimo) and send him off to prison.

Police officer, Damien (Cyril Raffaelli) has been undercover for months in an underground casino with a mob boss calling the shots. When his stint ends, the police chief calls him in for a new mission, one that he has less than a day to accomplish. An armored car was stolen and it happens to have a bomb inside. Where it ends up leads viewers back to the original storyline: District B13 with Taha.

Damien has to go undercover once again, but this time with a partner, Leito now sprung from jail. They have to save the city and save the girl before time is up or nothing matters anymore, but with the government keeping secrets these two men's lives are in more danger than expected.

Director Pierre Morel's "District B13," mixes a few American movies plotlines and adds a French twist.

With drugs, a girl in danger, cops and robbers, "District B13" encompasses the normal action film formula leading to the lacking plotline. The jumpy script takes viewers on a not-so-pleasing ride, focusing on too many things at once.

Setting the story only four years in the future makes the story improbable with the building of a wall and a section of Paris going to pot so quickly; a hundred years in the future would have been more appropriate. Although, the movie was actually filmed in 2004, but a six year gap doesn't make much more of a difference.

"District B13's" opening sequences set up both Leito and Damien's stories without correlations, or reasoning, for introducing both stories. With Damien's story coming second, you'd expect Leito to just pop up, but he doesn't.

The fight scenes are this movie's strongest asset. The fighting isn't just shoot 'em up style, although guns are involved since it's a drug/gang-related movie. Prior to watching the entire film, Leito's movements and style seemed to evoke images of the documentary "Jump London," which shows a group of people making London their playground for jumping, climbing and free running buildings.

Turns out that Belle was the founder of Parkour, a French sport that combines agility with fluid, beautiful movement to surpass any obstacle in a person's way.

The scenes that involve Parkour are stunning, something digital effects and wire work couldn't accomplish without dragging the movements down. The actors defy gravity and the way humans are expected to move.

At only 85 minutes long, "District B13" is a short, succinct action movie that doesn't waste the viewer's time, but could leave them wanting.


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Talkbacks

OMCreader | July 12, 2006 at 12:43 p.m. (report)

Cozen Beguile said: Can't wait to see this! PEACE!

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