Tuesday, May 11, 2010

District B13: Ultimatum

The original District B13 was an amiable kung fu Escape From New York ripoff, with a unique Gaelic flavor and social commentary, intriguing hip hop style, built around dependable buddy movie dynamic, and the then novel use of Parkour.

The first movie wasn’t perfect. Among its greater flaws was using the years long (!) forced addiction, abuse and sex slavery suffered by protagonists sister, about flippantly as its possible to use such things (made all the more laughable by the full psychological/ addiction recovery she goes through in a matter of seconds in order to insure a happy ending). Still despite its oddities in tone, District B13 was a fresh entertaining film that, if not begged a sequel could certainly accommodate one.

The movie this time follows our heroes slum leader and free runner par excellance Leto, and one good cop™ Tomaso, as they try to unravel yet another conspiracy to blow up uber slum District B13. This time headed up by the nefarious “Harry Burton” Corporation (SATIRE!!!) Will our heroes be able to stop the evil plot in time with the help of their colorful ethnic sidekicks? In a word… Wee.

The problem with said sequel, is that it hamstrings itself. Jetttisoning most of the dynamics that made the first one work along with most of the charismatic supporting cast. Perversely showing no Parkour until fifty minutes in, and not getting its two leads together until nearly an hour into its 90 minute runtime. Thusly it awkwardly becomes a parkour movie without parkour, and a buddy movie without buddies. Trying to subsist instead on admittedly impressive tracking shots through the eye popping production designs of its photogenic slums and somewhat less impressive displays of Frenchman Kung Fu.

There is some still to recommend District B 13 Ultimatum. The leads are still charismatic, despite the fact that separated they don’t get much of a chance to give their chemistry a work out. As inferred the production design inside the walled suburb is beautiful. Fully bringing to life the massive, now multi ethnic slum as surely as Cuaron did in Children Of Men (Albietly about a thousand times more comic booky). Still the level of detail is astounding, and much of the film is just plain fun to look at. The camera’s smooth, predatory creeping shots drinking in as much detail as the frame can hold. Also disarmingly appealing, is the films cynical yet almost sweet critique of French society. Both a clear eyed look at the religious and racial differences so trying the country, yet optimistic in the hope that liberty, fraternity and equality will ultimately trump the deep divisions.

While there’s no denying that I had a lot of fun with District B13: Ultimatum, mostly due to the films one (1) Free Running sequence, and the wholly unexpected if satisfying ending which at the very least seems to preclude the possibility of a District B13 3, there remains a feeling of simply being unsatisfied that is impossible to shake. For something that made its name by being so fresh, District B 13 Ultimatum feels depressingly like everything else.


Budd said...

does it at least have the super hot sister in it?

Bryce Wilson said...


Its funny actually they use a clip from the first movie to open the film that features her prominently. And then she's never seen and nobody ever mentions her again.

Anonymous said...

You wouldn't know a good film if it walked up and bit you in the ass you pretentious prick. Both db13 and db13u, were astonishing and original. If you think either were reminiscent of escape from new york you clearly havent seen the movie, the only common factor being a rush to escape said area of which escape from new york was not the first movie of its kind, nor the first with a massive borough. You wanna discredit a movie take a look at "brick mansions" THAT is a movie worthly of blatant discreditation, being that its summarily carbon copy of db13, with few and suttle differences in plot and A list actors in place whilst keeping the only property intact that mattered,david belle, just so one of the original partners on the project could summarily give his ex partner of which he had many disputes on the project a big fuck you. Pretentious twat.