The first District 13 movie was considered a modern day cult classic. It featured a number of meticulous and daring stunt scenes that were worked without the use of wires or computer generated effects. It was written and produced by Luc Besson famous for Fifth Element & Leon. But would the sequel set in the future 3 years later be able to hold the same interest?
It is France in the year 2013. Gang overlord, Taha Bemamud has been dead for three years leaving chaos in the streets and at the political level. Five territorial gangs are fighting for control and none are willing to back down to usurp control. The government is working on establishing peace and harmony to the troubled sector stationed firmly in the heart of Paris but is having considerable difficulty with the 2 million plus people stationed there.
Damien Tomaso(played by Cyril Raffaelli) has been working hard for his money as a cop. So hard, apparently he is working as a transvestite for a seedy club run by a one of the higher gangs in District 13. They run a successful bust on several of the gang leaders dealing in drugs and regain a valuable Van Gogh painting to boot. He has certainly earned himself some relaxing time away from the office.
However, things aren’t always cut and dry. Away from Damien’s apartment, there is trouble in another sector of District 13. It seems some members of the DISS (Department of Internal Secret Service) have shot some cops and placed the car in the heart of the Jamaican district for the gang to take the blame. Also as part of the cover-up, Damien is getting blamed for murder, for which he had nothing to do with.
As they take Damien into custody, he tries a daring escape but ultimately fails. However, he is successful in calling Leito (played by David Belle) his one-time partner from the first film that is making the run down District 13 a little bit safer place, one day at a time. He comes into possession of a rather interesting piece of video footage which shows that DISS to blame for the killing of cops and not gang members.
However, Leito now realizes he is the target of DISS and that he has to spring his friend Damien out of the local prison. The question now is how to put his gifted acrobatics to use to save Damien from a crime he didn’t commit. Then from there, the two will be in a battle of time before the reluctant President (played by Phillippe Torreton) hits the switch and brings District 13 to a violent, explosive end.
Confused? You aren’t the only one. The movie has a very loose and weak plot that seems to be mostly fodder for what can only be described as an acrobatics show. People fly through the air, from balcony to balcony and over rooftops whether it is necessary or not to get away from the cops or DISS agents. Character development is at an absolute minimum and my only guess is that they did a lot more background explaining in the first film.
The sad thing is that there are a few interesting characters in the movie but most of them are not introduced until the last twenty minutes of the movie. There is a girl who uses her hair as a weapon, a skinhead & a dude who thinks he is Tony Montana but none of these people are in the movie until we are near the climax. The movie has a ton of flashy movies and exciting action but hardly any of it can be tied back to a cohesive story and plot.
The video is shown in 2.35:1 Widescreen @ 1080p. The lush surroundings of the ghetto urban life are very much alive and frantic with color and all walks of life. The scenery is sometimes dark but there is a fair amount of detail considering that this isn’t set work, there is a lot on the outside. The only thing I didn’t really care for was that sometimes the stunt work got lost in the sun or got list in the dark depending on the time of day or lighting. But it is very good, that’s for sure.
The audio is presented in French & English DTS HD MA 5.1. French is the native language here but thankfully you really can’t fault either because dialog is anything but key here. Action is at the forefront so you really don’t have to be overly concerned on the language choice. Basically it comes down to this, if you really don’t like dubs; you’ll stick with French because the English one feels like a Kung Fu movie at times.
Most of us America common day Joes will probably gravitate to the English dub regardless. Surrounds are awesome in either language and your speakers will get a tremendous workout. Excellent to demo new speakers to. Subtitles are provided in English, English Narrative, English SDH & Spanish.
- Automatic Trailers: Red Cliff, The Warlords, Ong Bak 2: The Beginning & HDNet.
- Making of District 13: Ultimatum 26:34: Your stand making of featurette. A lot of work here is on the actual stars of the production and how they made the movie. A little bit of time is focused on the stunt work, but more of the stunt work is detailed in the Production Diary which is next.
- Production Diary 34:32: They shot the movie in fourteen weeks and in such they present fourteen diaries that show off a bevy of stunt work and events from the shooting schedule. Seriously though, they could have cut out about 10 minutes (or added 10 more minutes of footage) if they just stripped the front bumpers from each episode.
- Music Video 3:35: French Rapper Alonzo, I think the song’s name is Determine? I don’t even know what to say. It’s god awful, seriously. If this rapper was a color, he be the color suck. Lord, help my bleeding ears.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes 9:22: A few deleted and extended scenes to wet palette. There really isn’t much here, these were mostly cut for time constraints and don’t add anything to the movie.
- HDNet: A Look at District 13: Ultimatum 4:43: Fluff piece 101. It’s really more of an extended trailer to be honest. I think the next time I have an interview for a job, I’ll get the host, Robert Wilonsky to speak on my behalf. Man, listen to that dude gush. You think they paid him in hookers and heroin or something.
District 13: Ultimatum is a perfect example of style over substance. The movie is amazing with its action sequences and no fear stunt work. However, when it switches to dialog or lack there of, we are left to grasp at straws especially if we have no clue what went on in the first movie. The disc preforms better with very good video and excellent audio.
There are plenty of extras which will thrill fans more interested in the technical aspects. But in the end, this is the ultimate definition of a sequel and is no use to anybody who hasn’t seen the first film. Recommendation here is obviously to go see the first film and then dabble in this presentation if you think it is up your alley.