DISTRICT B13 (2004)

District B13 (2004)


Actors: Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Tony D'Amario, Bibi Naceri, Dany Verissimo
Director: Pierre Morel

Format: Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Number of discs:
Run Time:
81 minutes

DVD Features:

  • Available Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Available Audio Tracks: French (Dolby Digital 5.1 EX), English (Dolby Digital 5.1 EX)
  • "The Making of District B13" featurette
  • Extended Fight Sequence

Movie: * * *   
* * ½ 

If it’s set only four years into the future, does it still count as science fiction then?

This French action movie produced by Luc Besson (of Big Blue and Nikita fame) is set in the year 2010. The lousier parts of Paris have been walled off and in the absence of any police presence, gang rule is absolute. Things however get complicated when a gang leader gets his hands on a nuclear missile and a top cop (Cyril Raffaelli) and a youth named Leito (David Belle) with a vendetta against the gang boss are sent to find and defuse it.

So far, so very Escape from New York, but in movies like this it isn’t the plot that counts but the action sequences and they are eye-poppingly well done, in particular an early chase sequence in which Leito is chased from rooftop to rooftop and up and down walls by bad guys. It should come as no surprise that Raffaelli used to be a stuntmen and that Belle is one of the inventors of a sport called “parkour,” which as one source puts it treats a city's architecture like an obstacle course.

These early scenes are amazing in the human agility and grace displayed and it is difficult to believe that it is people actually clambering up and down buildings with such apparent ease and not CGI constructs. Spider-man, eat your heart out!

In fact the stunt-work in District B13 is the film’s biggest strength and to a degree the movie makes a mistake by putting its most impressive action set piece right at the start of the movie since the action sequences that follow (no matter how good they are) seem almost anti-climactic in comparison.

THE DISC: The making of featurette should be seen since it increases one’s appreciation of the film and its impressive stunt work.

While the 5.1 English soundtrack is fine in that it is never tinny or distant or badly synchronised with the actors’ lips for that matter, it should however be avoided since the voices just seem plain wrong for the onscreen actors. The French track is preferable and if you don’t like subtitles, then don’t worry: there isn’t that much dialogue to be honest.

WORTH IT? District B13 may be one of those movies that you’ll probably forget having seen in the first place a few weeks’ time, but it is still huge fun while sitting pinned to your TV screen. The plot may take a few ludicrous twists and turns, but hey! no-one watches this sort of thing for the storyline . . .

RECOMMENDATION: Fans of action flicks such as The Transporter in particular will find lots to appreciate.


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