But 2004's District B13 is a bête of a different color. It actually kicks some serious ass--French, American and otherwise. Taking place in an Escape From New York-like dystopia where large chunks of Paris have been walled off to separate the criminal element from its Perrier-sipping overlords, it uses a familiar storyline (elite cop teams up with inner-city hoodlum to save the city) to showcase a series of intensely choreographed fight scenes and a then-new form of gymnastics called parkour.
|You talkin' to moi?|
It's no surprise this movie was co-written and produced by Luc Besson, who's been pretty much the face of French action movies since directing the original La Femme Nikita and a young Natalie Portman in The Professional. He went on to make the batshit-crazy The Fifth Element and the more subdued (and underrated) Angel-A, and as a producer has turned out a steady stream of action flicks including the Transporter series. Besson does things Big, with a capital B, and District B13 is no exception. It's a gritty, punch-drunk comic book of a movie, at times ridiculous but always entertaining, and has surprisingly not been remade by Hollywood. (Scratch that. It turns out a belated remake starring Paul Walker is due later this year.)
There was a 2009 sequel, District B13: Ultimatum, that's also on Netflix and has the same male leads. I'm not sure about its quality, but if any of you have seen it, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments below.
Meanwhile, if you're curious to see what parkour is all about, take a look at the movie's official trailer. Anyone know how to say "wham-bam" in French?