District 13: Ultimatum [banlieue 13: Ultimatum] Movie Review
It's been three years since the super-fit cop Damien (Raffaelli) teamed up with the shady, athletic Leito (Belle) to bring the government to its knees.
Predictably, nothing has changed since then and in 2013, France's new president (Torreton) is convinced to take drastic actions against the violent thugs in District 13. Except that the whole scenario has been staged by the secret security service, led by the mysterious Gassman (Duval) and his top goon Roland (Mosconi), who try to do away with Damien and Leito (as if!), in order to enact their evil plan.
The parallels to the current global political situation aren't even trying to be subtle. The secret service is clearly Homeland Security, District 13 is clearly any part of the planet that refuses to toe the line, and the script actually mentions a company called "Harriburton" as the private contractors who will go in and rebuild a more pro-government middle-class neighbourhood on the ruins of the district. And of course the population of the district are a melange of happy (and well-organised) ethnicities including Africans, Arabs, Asians, Gypsies and, erm, skinheads.
But the main reason for this film to exist is to give Belle and Raffaelli a chance to show their stuff, and that they do. The action choreography is frenetically good fun, as they jump and fly, flip and slide, and find time in between to crack some baddie skulls. The chase scenes are breathlessly exciting, while the fight scenes are muscly and intense, all accompanied by a pounding score and rendered with constantly moving camerawork.
There's a definite music video aesthetic at work here, as everything is deeply gritty, with lots of fast and slow motion effects, plus rippling near-naked bodies everywhere. Just when you think it's become shamelessly misogynistic, we meet Asian leader Tao (Yung) and her killer ponytail. Not to mention the fantastic early sequence with Damien in skimpy drag as he takes out an entire gang of thugs. In other words, don't think too much. Just sit back and enjoy the carnage.