Thursday, June 29, 2006

Banlieue 13 (2004)

English Title: District 13
Dir: Pierre Morel
IMDBCurrently playing at Starz Film Center

The year is 2010 and the Parisian government has given up on District B13. They have decided to build a wall around the crime ridden neighborhood and isolate it from the rest of the city. Inside the walls crime and violence rule supreme and one of the crime lords has a new weapon that could kill millions and a prisoner that needs to be freed. Damien (Cyril Raffaelli) and Leïto (David Belle) have to team up to rescue both the weapon and the woman.

This is a perfect meld of the Hollywood and French traditions. The fighting sequences are done in a Ong Bak trend of action movies and involve the two main actors jumping off of buildings and using all things around them to maneuver through the landscape. David Belle founded a new type of sport that involves martial arts and running over, under, on the side of and next to anything that stands in the way. Both actors are highly trained athletes and their physical abilities get them out of sticky situations.

The film follows a different structure than many American audiences are familiar with. There are really only three sequences in the entire film (a run time of 90 minutes) where the first two really set up the characters and the third deals mostly with the actual story at hand. The two protagonists of the film only interact for the last third of the film and it almost feels like three films woven into one. As a whole, the film is a great experience and will likely appeal to an audience that would not typically sit for French cinema.


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