District B13 (Pierre Morel) 2004/ District B13: Ultimatum (Patrick Alessandrin)
As I mentioned in one of my reviews, Pierre Morel is a director you can depend on for delivering what a movie promises (even if it’s not really a good movie). Taken isn’t a good movie per se, but it delivers on having Liam Neeson delivering bad ass lines and kicking mass amounts of ass. From Paris with Love is not a good movie, but it delivers on having John Travolta overacting and bouncing off the walls. District B13 follows in the Morel tradition. B13 isn’t really a good movie, but it is entertaining and delivers on good parkour/kung fu.
The movie is about Leito (David Belle) and Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli). This takes place in the not too distant future where the bad sections of town are walled off into districts. The government is planning on just bombing the districts out of existence to start from scratch. Damien, a police detective, teams up with a parkour street urchin to help disarm him.
As my brother pointed out, the plot is really nothing more than you would get from your standard Jackie Chan movie. It is the most basic thing to get the characters from point A to point B. The acting is not anything to remark on either. After all, the cast is mostly parkour people and stunt guys. One thing that is almost too distracting is the English dubbing which is almost cast by cartoon characters. We are seriously slightly less goofy than a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon here.
The action though, is very good. Parkour has pretty much been overexposed recently, but B13 does a good job in showing the best of this style. There is also good fight scenes by Raffaelli to keep things fresh.
I have included the sequel in this review, simply because I would be repeating myself in many respects. The plot of the second involves Damien getting set up and arrested on false charges. This is all done to get him out of the way so evil government people can, you guessed it, blow up the districts to create new high rises. Cripes people, I’m not going into this for the plot but you can at least try to shake things up. Even though this is a new director, I don’t feel like much has changed. I have heard some complaints that Ultimatum has shakey cam, but I don’t think its bad at all. I had no problem following any of the action. I actually preferred some of the fight scenes on Ultimatum. The story is still goofy, right down to the finale where literally the skinheads and the Muslim fundamentalists agree to live together in peace and harmony.
If you like kung fu movies, then I think these would be worth your while. To your standard movie goer, these movies are a little too goofy but they do have some fresh action for those missing good Jackie Chan movies.