Wednesday, September 09, 2009

DISTRICT B13 (2006)- Escape From Paris

The second film my buddy loaned me last week was the French Sci-fi action movie DISTRICT B13. I’d heard a lot of good things about this movie and WOO HOO did it live up to the hype. Brain bending in its pace it rushes along like an SUV without brakes careening off everything in sight until it slams into something solid enough to stop it. At these points the movie takes a breath, relates some story point and then darts off again with the camera right behind the acrobatic actors trying desperately to keep up. Produced by the mad Frenchman Luc Besson it is a blast from start to finish and since it clocks in at barely 80 minutes it is over almost before you know what to think about it. Packed with chases, gunfights, hand-to-hand combat, car crashes and Mexican standoffs the movie comes at you relentlessly. It’s like an overenthusiastic puppy determines to make you happy by doing anything it can to hold your attention. In less skilled hands this could have been a recipe for disaster but with DISTRICT B13 the filmmakers have managed to make a fun, silly, adrenaline shot of a movie that will put a smile on any action fan’s face.

The funniest thing about the movie is that it is a completely transparent remake of John Carpenter’s ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK crossed with bits of Walter Hill’s 48HRS but Besson still takes an original story credit. Does he think no one remembers those movies? The man has no shame but I wouldn’t want him any other way as long as he keeps pumping out stuff like this. Of course, the French film sacrifices some of the strengths of Carpenter’s film (atmosphere, characters, creepiness, etc.) to rush straight at you leaving the feeling that the story is a little too thin and quick, but if American remakes could be this inventive and entertaining I doubt Cinema fans would complain so much about Hollywood’s dearth of new ideas.

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