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As with the original, this has some amazing, almost balletic stunts clearly done by the actors themselves, who are in this case two of the originators and developers of the sport called parkour, which involves scrambling and leaping around the urban landscape, jumping up and over cars, out of 2nd floor windows, across rooftops.
In this age of CGI and wire assisted stunts, it's wonderful to watch real human beings doing amazing, acrobatic things.
I also liked that the film had an interesting element of social satire which made it smarter and more political than most of the action blockbusters we get from Hollywood.
That said, sadly it did eventually burn out for me, on both the action and the plot front. For the first half I thought this would end up one of my all time favorite action pics. But the story logic gets stretched further and further, and by the end the clever political set up turns a bit silly, while some of the action starts to feel a bit repetitive. Still, I'm glad I saw, and enjoyed it. I just doubt it's a film I'd buy, or return to again.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
"I'll distract them. You play Spider-Man."June 21 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
In watching DISTRICT 13: ULTIMATUM, you're subjected to the tired political subtext and also the sometimes ridiculous plot. Writer/producer Luc Besson, historically, hasn't sold heaps of movie tickets by virtue of his having been the voice of social conscience, and his attempts here are awkward. Doesn't matter, though. The first movie rocked it. This sequel rocks it equally. The two stars, David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli, are back for another bone-bruising round of no-wires, no-CG stunts and fight scenes. "C'est magnifique!" and also "Le chat est sur le tableau." And that's my French.
Three years after what went down in the first film, and the government has changed hands, and yet things remain the same. That barbed wall still stands tall and menacing, still isolates the lawless territory known as District 13 from the more civilized parts of Paris. In the dystopian near future of 2016, an uneasy sort of peace exists between law enforcement and the ruling gangs of District 13. But now corrupt cops are intent on stirring things up, on enticing riots, the end game being the razing of these bleak tenements and thus raking in the resulting rewards of suddenly available real estate.
When Leito (Belle), District 13's well-meaning rogue, ends up with evidence incriminating the police, it's only a matter of time before he joins forces again with his old friend Damien Tomasso, the formidable and baldy-domed Army Captain assigned to the police Special Forces. On his end, Damien (Raffaelli) has found himself framed and locked up by his fellow police officers. This tends to happen when you're an honest cop. Leito springs Damien, and away they go, striving to save the barricaded slums and their unsavory populace from extinction.
It's gratifying that Belle and Raffaelli obviously get along and share this sort of macho chemistry, and I really enjoy their interactions. But, really, the story is a vessel for their astounding physicality and athleticism. David Belle demonstrates his skills at parkour, and parkour, by the way, is the art of navigating from point A to point B as expeditiously as possible. And Belle's chase scenes are physically taxing and make for absolutely jaw-dropping stuff. Cyril Raffaelli, who looks like Vin Diesel chopped off at the knees, is himself versed in parkour but he's also a practitioner of Shotokan karate and several wushu styles, and he handles the brunt of the martial arts and he's dynamic. What he does here, in beating down waves of goons, hearkens back to when Jackie Chan was really tearing $#!% up in his heyday. Like Jackie, Cyril incorporates whatever props are handy into his explosive fight scenes. In one sequence, he even fends off a group of thugs with a priceless Van Gogh painting.
As mentioned, plenty of the plotlines go the preposterous route. And maybe the silliest, most "What the f---?!" moment is when Cyril Raffaelli, during an undercover ops, disguises himself as a lithe girl dancer, never mind that there's an obvious discrepancy in body types. And, speaking of body types, supporting actress Elodie Yung has got a slender bod and she is memorable as "Tao," head of the Chinese gang and sporting a murderous ponytail. Tao kicks serious behind (but only in two scenes, dammit - one in the actual film and a brief segment in the deleted scenes bonus feature).
DISTRICT 13: ULTIMATUM, like its predecessor, exhibits great energy and a pounding, hip-hop laced soundtrack. It presents a grungy, gritty atmosphere reminiscent of films like ROAD WARRIOR and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, and there's particular attention paid to depicting that mean urban sprawl. The battered-down edifices (some of which are skyscrapers) provide Belle the ideal venue to show off his crazy leaping, hurdling, scaling abilities. No trickeration, Belle really does his own stunts. As does Cyril Raffaelli. And so does that one poor guy whom Raffaelli drags thru the air one floor down and then slams viciously thru a table. I'll go ahead and speak for that poor guy and say that the pain was worth it. The action sequences are that dizzying and breathtaking.
The DVD's bonus material includes the Making Of featurette (00:26:33 minutes long, with English sub-titles); a production video diary which chronicles the many days of on-location filming (00:34:31); Alonzo's music video "Déterminé"; Deleted/Extended Scenes include: an extended jailbreak sequence as Leito searches for evidence while Damien holds off the police; even more fight scenes as Leito, Damien, and the gang lords storm the Secret Services stronghold (00:09:22, with English sub-titles); and HDNET: A Look at DISCTRICT 13: ULTIMATUM (00:04:43).
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
UltimatumJuly 25 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
The first District 13 was so much better. The dubbing was amazing and the action was hardcore. The movie just flew right through and before you knew it, the film as over.
This one had real bad dubbing and just wasn't as exciting as the first. I enjoyed it but not enough to rush out and buy it.The action was still good but the feel of the movie was just not there this time.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Paris as we've never seen it!March 7 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
For those of us who unfortunately have not seen the original BANLIEUE 13 - aka DISTRICT 13 - (made in 2004 with the same crew except for the director - Pierre Morel), some of the background information that usually follows in a sequel is missing and according to many, the sequel here BANLIEUE 13:ULTIMATUM - aka DISTRICT 13: ULTIMATUM is not as strong a film. And perhaps that allows the viewer to appreciate fine French film making without the comparison!
Luc Besson (of the Trasnporter series et al) wrote this script (or rather, this plan of choreography, as there is not a lot of spoken dialogue in this fast-paced thriller) and Patrick Allessandrin directs a story of a region of Paris (District 13) that is cordoned off the rest of Paris by a group of five warlords who manage to control the drug ridden violent region. Basically the tale is that of two men - Captain Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli) and undercover cop of the 'good' police and Leïto (David Belle), an ex-thug who in the previous film infiltrated a gang in order to defuse a neutron bomb. That was supposedly in 2010. The film opens some years later when District 13 is now in control of power over the government and the 'bad police' are attempting to destroy the area and rebuild according to their greedy plans. The action is the story and the action is immensely exciting! David Belle invented a discipline known as Parkour, which consists of moving quickly and efficiently in any environment, using only the abilities of the human body, and though his acting credits are minimal, he is stupefying in his live action role. Belle and Raffaelli are the reasons to watch this thriller as their screen chemistry is magnetic. Other standout performances in the film include the much tattooed Elodie Yung as Tao (the principal gang queen), Philippe Torreton as the much oppressed President, and the evil appearing Daniel Duval as the nemesis who turns the keys of the plot.
The cinematography is superb, the musical score is French rap music that while it suits the mood of the film becomes irritating in its repetitiveness. In all this is an escape film that is high on excitement is not very high on intelligent dialogue. But put Bell and Raffaelli together and the combustion is authentically credible. Grady Harp, March 10
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Not the original, still goodMarch 2 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
District B13 Ultimatum is not as good as the original, true, but still has an interesting plot and great action. Same two stars are back, and this time do a little more fighting, and a little less parcour. If you didn't see District B13 (first one), you should. It is a five star movie. If you loved the first one, be warned this one isn't as good, then get it anyway and enjoy.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
"The Government reneged on a promise? That's a total outrage!"June 1 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
While the original "District B13" (2004) was not exactly intelligent and had some serious flaws in the action department (yep, editing) it was enjoyable enough that I looked forward to this sequel. While it's not awful, "D13: Ultimatum" (Where's the "B"?) captures the same stupidity with increased style and a decrease in substance and enthusiasm. Oh, and unfortunately, less Lola (Dany Verissimo-Petit), too.
3 years after the first film, the quarantined Paris neighborhood known as D13 is pretty much the same, despite the political agreement that earmarked the ghetto for financial and occupational resurrection. D13's local boyscout, Leito (David Belle, "Babylon A.D."), spends his time blowing holes in the wall that separates them from the rest of the city, hoping to expedite the process of legally taking it down. Meanwhile super-cop Damien (Cyril Raffaelli, "Kiss of the Dragon") is resting easy after taking down a drug-kingpin when he's suddenly arrested on narcotics possession charges. Before he can call Leito to casually request assistance with his jail-break, Leito inadvertantly discovers the same scheme (via crooked cops) to destroy/re-build D13 that incarcerated Damien to begin with. Can Leito break him out of the clink in time to save their beloved slum?
In the first film, the Parkour scenes looked excellent while the fist-fights were horribly choppy. The first 45 minutes of this one looked to reverse those two action elements with slightly better fights and much worse Parkour. That is until the fights gradually sink even lower than those of the 1st flick. As dumb as the early fight that Damien has while holding a priceless Van Gogh painting is, it's decent, with a couple of "whoa!" moments scattered throughout its duration. By the time Damien fights a group of cops in the police plaza, what little tolerable camerawork we had earlier is gone. Not only one of the worst examples of "one-at-a-time" choreography I've ever seen but when the fight is not shown from directly above the participants' heads, it's all chest-level close-ups. When you have athleticism at the level of the film's two stars, there should be NO close-ups and minimal (if any) trick editing during action scenes. For crying out loud, David Belle is the inventor of Parkour! Cyril Raffaelli could practically do spin-kicks in a phone booth! GET THE DAMN CAMERA BACK AND LET THESE PEOPLE DO THEIR THING! That's exactly why this film didn't star the likes of Jean Reno and Gerard Depardieu!
On yet another action complaint, the much-heralded fight with female gang-boss Tao (Elodie Yung, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo") taking out 5 cops is much ado about nothing. All slow-motion and, again, one-at-a-time. Oh, she's cute but so what? As a heterosexual (really, I swear!) male I have NEVER watched a girl kick butt because it looked sexy. Though they may provide some eye-candy during slow stretches, I watch Angela Mao, Gina Carano, JeeJa Yanin, Kara Hui, Cynthia Rothrock, Michelle Yeoh, etc. for the same reason I watch dudes kick butt: I enjoy good fight scenes, plain and simple. And on another personal note, I have nothing against tattoos though I do NOT find them attractive at all but I gotta admit that Tao rocks 'em better than any girl I've ever seen!
The Magnet/Magnolia DVD has great widescreen picture quality with languages available in French and English and optional subtitles in French, English and Spanish. Special features include a Making Of, Production Diary, Deleted/Extended Scenes and HDNet: A Look @ D13U. If you enjoyed the first film there's a strong possibility you'll enjoy this, too. I did enjoy the first and this one... is okay. 2.5/5