Saturday, 2 January 2010

District 13: Ultimatum



Title: District 13: Ultimatum
Director:Patrick Alessandrin
Released:2009
Staring:Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Philippe Torreton, Daniel Duval, Elodie Yung, Pierre-Marie Mosconi

Rating:3.5 / 5

Plot:Set three years after the ending of the original film, Damien (Raffaelli) and Leito (Belle) are reunited after Damien is framed by Roland (Mosconi) a corrupt secret service agent who is hatching a plot to destroy District 13.

Review:Coming a full five years after the release of the original District 13 (2004), little has actually changed in regards to setup, with Raffaelli being on hand to provide the bone crunching kung fu moves and Belle once again being on Parkour duties as he finds ever increasing ways of defying gravity, which also makes it all the less surprising that we are given this sequel, to a film which despite having a lot of buzz on it’s initial release was quickly forgotten, but with the current interest in Parkour once again at a high, thanks again largely to it’s frequent use in other movies, including most memorably being used for the building site chase seen in “Casino Royale” (2006), so it unsurprising with this considered that Luc Besson would return to pen (aswell as produce) the sequel, who it seems has something of a secret love for the sport having also wrote “Yamakasi” (2001) before penning the original “District 13”.
Little has changed from the first film it would seem, with the wall which blocks district 13 off from the rest of Paris, still in place despite the government promising to knock it down at the end of the first film and this in itself is a good illustration for this film, as once again the plot is there only to really provide filler between the next fight scene or Parkour showcase depending on who the film happens to be following at that particular moment, which after all is what fans of the first film will be watching for anyway and in this respect it does not disappoint as both Raffaelli and Belle are fantastic at what they do and Besson still knows how to write action, as each action sequence still has an edge of excitement aswell as realism to them, especially with Belle’s main Parkour chase sequence which sees him leaping from the roofs of blocks of flats and generally treating the environment around him as his personal playground and generally making it look effortless.

This time round we are shown more of District 13 which now has gained more of a multicultural feel, with of course the main gangs all belonging to different ethnic groups, making it easier to distinguish between them, though the majority of characters belonging to these gangs are largely ignored until the finale when the gangs must learn to put their differences aside in order to save the district. It’s kind of shame really that none of these colourful characters are put to better use, much like the corrupt secret service agents, who despite receiving a strong introduction, quickly seem more like the baddie of the week on some cop show, than any real threat to our heroes, thanks largely to them being placed firmly in the background, only popping up occasionally to mutter a few words about their evil plot.
The pacing it has to be also said feels quite sloppy especially when you consider that the film is entering the final half hour and Damien and Leito are still running around the same police station that Damien was put into near the start of the film, possibly making it the longest prison break ever seen in an action film.

Although it has a brief running time, it still feels as if it runs for too long and that it has to be said it largely down to such weak plotting, that by the time the finale rolls around, your more caught up in the martial arts action, than the actual purpose they are fighting for. It however for those tuning in for more displays of the talents of Belle and Raffaelli , they still might something to enjoy here, but at best it is strictly disposable entertainment.

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