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Friday, November 03, 2006

District B-13 Movie Review


Banlieue 13 (District B13)

Starring: Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Dany Verissimo

Directed by: Pierre Morel

Writeen by: Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri

Rated: R for strong violence, some drug content and language

85 min

Last night, I watched District B-13, or Banlieue 13, as it is called in its native France and I guess, from the expensive promo site, that it was some big deal in France. Or I could be making a generalization about a movie in a country that I know nothing about, admittedly and happily. I watched it on the recommendation of one of my brothers.

Now normally, I would explain the entire plot of B-13, with spoilers and all. But I can’t do that this time. Because I really don’t know what was going on. See, it’s not sub-titled, it’s dubbed. And that right there, that causes a problem for me, because I’m so fascinated by watching their mouths move and not match the words that they are saying… or because I am so tickled and again, fascinated, by the particular voice they choose for each character, like the black guy who has a very whiney, white, mid-western voice, or the giant germanic hulk who speaks like he’s straight outta Brooklyn. Then in the midst comes the cop whose cockney dialogues jars with everyone else… it’s hard for me to pay attention to the words. I prefer subtitles and my own imagination for changing up the voices, but hey, whatever.

Honestly, I don’t think the dialogue was very important in this one. The basic plot was interesting... here you go: it is the future, and Paris has put up big walls around their ghettos, called “districts”. One man in District 13, the baddest of all them, is trying to fight back against the rampant crime that has taken over his little hood. His name is… um, I need to look it up, because it’s French, ok? I don’t know how to spell French names. Ok, his name is Leito, and he is a one-man army trying to stop crime in his home district. The opening of the film has him ruining some mobster’s many, many bags of heroines, yet outsmarting, out running and totally outmaneuvering the bad guys coming after him. When my brother said this was a good action movie, he wasn’t exaggerating. There was this kid once I saw on You Tube, who did all of these amazing jumps and leaps and ran up walls and clung to buildings and amazing shit like that… well, throw in some fighting moves and you’ve got Leito, vigilante supreme. Well, we already know how I feel about vigilantes! Problem is, most vigilantes have to go through a painful period of naiveté and getting totally screwed over before they turn into the hard-asses I so enjoy. No exception with Leito. This time, when he actually captures the bad guy and turns him over to the cops, the cops not only let Mr. Evil go…they let him take Lento’s sister along as a snack. Yeah, no kidding. Pretty bad. Leito does get him some justice, (in a pretty sick and brutal manner, for those of you with tender tummies) however, and fade to black….

Now, it’s six months later… if I read the French right… and Damien, a wise-but-bad-ass cop is fighting against those same old bad guys, including the walking mountain that is called K-2, presumably because he has that shaved into the back of his head. Damien has just gotten some freaky news… the gang has stolen a nuke and it’s his unenviable job to get the damn thing back. Undercover, he helps Leito escape, because who better to help him kick butt on the baddies than the brother of the poor girl they still (we think) hold hostage, now probably a zombie-like crack whore? Ok, I think you can see the direction I’m going with this.

Now when I say that I liked this movie, I need it to be understood that I liked it for the action, plain and simple. The dialogue sucked. I dunno, maybe it was better in French, but once translated, it lost all possible appeal. The storyline, although pretty good as far as action movie ideas go, was sadly transparent and the build-up to the big surprise was no surprise at all. Anyone who head to rent this imagining an “american-type” action film might be a tad disappointed.

But if… you like martial arts, and fight scenes galore, car chases and big booms. If you are amazed, like me, to see someone using his body in a way that most people never ever dream of using their bodies, like it’s some kind of liquid steel flowing over the screen in a series of unbelievable and jaw-dropping moves… then hey, you might just like this one. Rumor has it that 90% of the scenes were shot SFX-free, Jackie Chan style.

Hey reading above, it looks like I explained the plot, spoilers and all. Guess movies aren’t so hard to break down, even the foreign jobbies.

I give it 3 ½ &s…..

&… it was no-fall-asleep time from start to finish

&… the slippery-slidery moves I mentioned above…they were boggling.

&… the sister was a tough nut to crack, even under baddest of circumstances

½ &…. It had a good enough storyline, even if the acting was labored.

4 Comments:

Blogger sock puppet said...

Hey Kaat,

Totally off topic, but I just finished my Sunday PostSecret ritual, and I see that there could be exhibits in Canada... fingers crossed that the nation's capital is a destination of choice...

7:51 AM  
Blogger Orhan Kahn said...

I’m so fascinated by watching their mouths move and not match the words that they are saying.

I know exactly what you mean.

6:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes I watch subtitled movies that are in languages I kinda understand (like spanish and japanese) and I try not to look at the subtitles. My translation will go something like this, "Something something go eat something something after the monkey's something." Then I come to my senses and actually read the subtitles like I'm supposed to.

5:05 AM  
Blogger Meowkaat said...

Oh my... I have been trying to arrange to visit the next Post Secret exhibit that will be in my area, but I don't see how I'm going to do it. if you do make it- you have to write a guest review for me!
LOL I do the same thing with the "trying to understand" without reading, especially japanese movies, but of course, I totally suck at it and since the written japanese sounds very little like the spoken japanese, I'm thrown constantly by words I should know.

7:07 AM  

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