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District B13 (7/10)

by Tony Medley

The time is Paris, 2010; the location is Paris District B13, a section of town so bad it’s been walled off. There is no police, no law and order, nothing but anarchy. The District is ruled by Taha (Bibi Naceri), a psychopathic killer, and his gang. Leďto (David Belle) is a vigilante criminal who wants to rescue his sister, Lola (Dany Verissimo) from Taha’s clutches, where he leads her around on a leash like a dog. Damien (Cyril Raffaelli) is a member of an elite police squadron, trained in martial arts. He is sent into B13 to disarm a clean atomic bomb that is set to go off in 24 hours.

This is a violent film where people die so often you become immune to it. While it might look like it, due to all the stunts, there was very little post-production enhancement of the film. The stunts were apparently done by both Belle and Raffaelli. The murder and mayhem are as ludicrous as they are in all these types of films. Bullets fly, but they never strike our heroes. Automatic weapons fire thousands of rounds, but they just make noise and bounce off things. Except, that is, when our heroes are firing the guns. Then bodies fall. There is one scene in a casino in which Damien dispatches 35 bodies. But he emerges unscathed.

Belle’s forte seems to be running away from people and jumping from rooftop to rooftop, over vast chasms, climbing up ladders, vaulting over moving cars, dodging bullets, and shinnying up and down pipes. He’s so good at it that he does it at the beginning of the film and then again near the end.

Frankly, this is the kind of movie I generally despise, and I was despising it when it started. But when the end arrived, I discovered that I had been thoroughly entertained.

May 15, 2006

 

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