Review Date: July 12, 2006
Director: Pierre Morel
Writer: Luc Besson, Bibi Naceri
Producers: Luc Besson
Cyril Raffaelli as Damien
David Belle as Leito
Dany Verissimo as Lola
The year is 2010 and we’re in Paris, France. An area of the city is so messed up with crime and what-not that the government has decided to build walls all around it and call it “District 13”. At some point in our story, a bomb makes its way into the district and it’s up to a leap-froggin’ cop and a bad guy (with a heart of gold) to kick asses until they can reach and disengage the bomb. What ensues is ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK…but set during the daytime, in Paris and without Snake Plissken! Bon appetit.
Fun shit. If you’re like me and you enjoy a bunch of action in your flicks from time to time, a whole bunch of kara-tay, and a ton (and I do mean a TON!!) of gunplay, this film is sure to tickle your macho bone as it delivers round after round of ammunition, with dudes kicking each others asses, men chasing each other up buildings and bullets passing through many a body. Bottom line: if you dig on highly stylized kung-fu action flicks (starring French guys), there’s no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy this rapid-fire pace of a flick, jam-packed with guys, goons and guns. On the negative tip, a film like this requires a few hotties tossed in for effect, but all we get here is a cute little sister with a sweet ass. Do the letters T&A mean anything to the French? Of course they do…now use them! The movie is also as short as my penis, with an 80-minute runtime that actually feels like…60 minutes! Not necessarily a “bad thing”, when you consider the problems that come with “too much of a good thing”, but since the character development is always lacking in flicks like this, how about you toss a couple of 2-minute scenarios in there, giving us a little more background on the two French dude leads, or a gratuitous handjob scene with the sister? But don’t get me wrong, I still had a blast while watching this movie, with its unique injection of the latest craze called Le Parkour, wherein members of the younger generation leap from building to building, rooftop to rooftop, climbing up walls and doing all that they can, to appear like modern-day Bruce Lees and Jackie Chans….but French.
The film also featured a cute homage to Lee, as well as a scene quite reminiscent of the last few moments from SCARFACE. And like I said earlier, if you enjoy your gunplay in a movie, you are going to love this film as it probably features more bullets than any movie that I’ve seen since the 80s action classics. The film’s setting, zippy direction and even its typical French electro-score worked for what the picture had to deliver, and even its story was semi-interesting enough to put the two lead characters into a variety of situations from which they kicked ass to escape. Some of the action stuff was truly original and fun to watch, particularly one scene in which the one dude who looks like a less buff, white version of Vin Diesel (or is Diesel white also?) goes goo-goo over some baddies in a gambling saloon. Two words: fun times. Lots of people were creaming their pants over ONG-BAK last year, but I enjoyed this film more than that one, if only because these guys didn’t replay their awesome action sequences in slow-motion three times over. They would just do it once. By the way, if there’s a sequel…I’m there!
Note: I think the studio really dropped the ball on this movie, with almost zero, or highly inept, marketing. This is an action extravaganza with an easy built-in audience, but that audience never heard about the movie, or simply weren’t pulled in by its promos (i.e. horrible poster!). I know because I was one of those people.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian