Directed by Pierre Morel.
Written by Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri.
Starring Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Bibi Naceri and Tony
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 6/8/06
All I knew about "District B13" was that it
was a French film written and produced by action-man Luc Besson
("The Professional", "The Fifth Element", "La Femme Nikita").
With that, I rolled into the theater Tuesday night and saw what
amounts to a French remake of "The Transporter" films, also produced
Which isn't a bad thing, especially if you
like sped-up chopsocky flicks that feature unintelligible stories
and unforgiving, incessant violence. This time, the setting is
Paris in the near future, where certain violent neighborhoods have
been walled to keep the petty street criminals contained in their
own nasty environments. Amongst the chaos, a group of decent
guys, led by Leito (David Belle), are trying to keep District B13's
largest gang, led by Taha (Bibi Naceri), from dealing drugs in
Leito's part of the District. Naturally, cops in this part of
town are on the take, so instead of going after Taha, they let him
run shit in B13, and after Leito is wrongly imprisoned for trying to
take Taha down, the cops send in a one-man wrecking ball (Cyril
Raffaelli, who looks EXACTLY like Jason Statham from behind and in
long shots...hmm...) to get Leito and to save the world from a nuke
that has somehow fallen into Taha's possession.
Whatever is happening, you know that a lot
of people are getting their asses kicked, shot, impaled or worse,
because director Pierre Morel (the cinematographer from the
severely-underrated Jet Li flick
couple of years back, as well as
sets up a pretty cool martial arts environment mixed with some
decent gunplay to boot. It's all happening so fast--even the
dialogue seems sped up--that the film's short 83-minute running time
even sounds too long. Leads Belle and Raffaelli (the latter
showed up in the best action scene from Li's awful
of the Dragon") look to be in good shape, as their stunt work is
some mix of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and the
moving-through-impossibly-narrow-spaces work of Tony Jaa, from
"Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior."
The story is too preachy, the incompetence
of the bad guys is something to behold (100 against 2 is always a
fair fight in the movies, isn't it?), and the ending is kind of
blah, but for something that hits you so hard and so fast, you don't
mind some of these shortcomings. You probably won't catch this
in theaters unless you act fast, so add it to your Netflix queue and
call it a day.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard