Review: District 13

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David Belle in District B13
David Belle works the parkour in District 13



Free-running is the gimmick powering this actioner scripted and produced by French action powerhouse Luc Besson and also known as District B13 (B is for “Banlieue”). Set in a broken-down Paris in the near future, District 13 has an Escape from New York kind of vibe and follows a tough cop (Cyril Raffaelli) and a gangland desperado (David Belle) into a walled-off urban badland to sort out the guys who’ve nicked a nuclear weapon (it was the US president in Escape from New York). But back to the free-running, or le parkour as its French originators (one of whom is David Belle himself) call it – the adrenalised athletic stuntorama that could simply be described as “running and jumping”, if you wanted to piss off everyone who does it. Every time the action threatens to slow down and reveal the film as little more than a lot of bullet-headed guys in black vests shouting at each other, the leaping, running and jumping starts up again. And, quite honestly, what more does an action film need than action?

© Steve Morrissey 2006


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District B13 (2004) Action, Crime, Sci-Fi | 84min | 2 June 2006 (USA) 7.2
Director: Pierre MorelWriter: Luc Besson, Bibi NaceriStars: Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Tony D'AmarioSummary: In the near future, the worst ghettos of Paris, France are literally walled off and among the worst is District B13. Controlled by the ruthless crime lord, Taha, a young righteous punk named Leïto is determined to bring him down. When the boss retaliates by kidnapping his sister, Lola, a rescue attempt by Leïto is destroyed by betrayal that gets him arrested and Lola kept in the clutches in Taha. Six months later, a crackerjack undercover cop named Damien is given a urgent mission: a neutron bomb has been stolen by Taha in District B13 which has an automatic timer function engaged and set to detonate in less than 24 hours. Now with time running out, Damien and Leïto must work together to find and stop the bomb, but there is far more to this crisis than any of the field players realize. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (


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