It’s France 2013 and the gangs rule the ghettos of Paris so the government whacks up some concrete barriers and leave the slums to the drug lords and street gangs. Into that slum drops a nuclear weapon that needs recovering. Sounds kinda familiar don’t it? But this Escape from NY ‘homage’ doesn’t have Snake Pillsen or The Don instead we got David Belle as Leito, the good kid in a bad situation and Cyril Raffaelli as a cop with attitude. And both have a thing for “parkour” that strange habit of running up walls and jumping on roofs because apparently catching a bus or walking isn’t cool. Belle is in fact one of the main instigators/originators of the whole parkour thing and it seems this film was created with him in mind. Me, I was doing parkour back in the late 70s. It’s true. Whenever one of our mates was doing ok with the ladies at the drive in we would run over his car, boot, roof, bonnet and away. So, this isn’t a new thing, its just that these guys do it sober is all. Anyway, back to the story.
Leito has intercepted a million bux worth of heroin that belongs to local gang kingpin Taha, who unfortunately looks a lot like Eric Idle thus making it very hard to take him seriously (except for his habit of randomly shooting people) and Taha is rightfully pissed off. Leito gets away though by, you guessed it, running over roofs, jumping out windows, climbing up walls all that stuff. At first this bugged the shit out of me because I just kept expecting an ad for shoes or cars or something to pop up at the end of every jump, and certainly the slomo, artwank filming of said escape didn’t help. But once you get used to it, it is pretty cool. In retaliation for losing the drugs Taha grabs Leito’s sister to get revenge, grab his attention and keep the plot moving so he can continue to do all that wall climbing, roof jumping, car leaping stuff. Our mate Cyril meanwhile is an undercover cop who unfortunately looks a lot like Moby which seriously undermines his macho/hero status. Its kind of hard to root for a guy who looks like a piss poor DJ no matter how cool his moves are. Moby does some serious arse kicking in a lukewarm John Woo homage where he decimates something like a dozen bad guys all by himself but unlike a Woo film you just cant believe Moby could do it. But maybe that’s just my bias against skinny balding guys called Cyril coming thru. Anyhow a nuke is loose in B13, Taha has it and Moby and Leito have to get in there and defuse it. Taha still has Leito’s cute sister too, chained up and drug fucked but still looking pretty cute it must be said (in that drug whore, Saturday night, smeared eyeliner, ripped stockings kind of cute look). So the boys go in, open up a can of whoop ass, do lots of bust-a-moves, wall climbing, overhead flips and karate kicks and no one sells a car, pair of shoes, brand name or nothin’ but they do get into a couple of tight situations. Hell they even throw in a big mofo called, wait for it… MONGO! Yes, you can’t get more blatant than that. Taha gets his when the loyal gang he rules realizes he’s broke and can’t pay them (in a very nice Scarface tribute) and the boys find the bomb and then have a big blue which looks the goods but is just too damn stylized for me and then… well I won’t tell you the rest, it’ll ruin the story.
At first this flick gave me the shits, the stylized fights, the parkour, the slomo cuts away but you know what? I ended up rootin’ for the good guys, even Moby. I really got into the story and hell, I laughed at the end. This is a fast paced, frenetic flick with a style of its own and once you get over the parkour TV commercial feel of the wall climbin’/roof jumpin’ it kicks some arse. But I still can’t take Moby seriously. There’s a great hour long doco on the making of the film too that really opens up the whole flick. For the most part Cyril and David did their own stunts too including the fight scenes and I have a lot more respect for em now than I did at first. And it’s nice to see a flick where we don’t have to have a love interest or any slowdown schmaltzy moments to justify things or events just a cracker pace and a lot of Woo action with a French accent. I could do without the little sermon by Moby at the end though. Now, if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to go and get some bread from the shop. Think I’ll go thru that window, over the garage, shimmy the neighbour’s greenhouse, jump over a coupla fences…
- English Dub version
- French dialogue with English Subtitles
- Original trailer
- Madman propaganda
- Documentary on making of District B13 including interviews with cast and crew