DISTRICT 13: ULTIMATUM Blu-ray Review

     June 4, 2010

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In 2004, District 13 was released.  The stylish action flick combined an urban dystopia, a corrupt government and parkour-heavy action set pieces.  Plus it was written and produced by action guru Luc Besson.  District 13 tells the story of Damien, an ex-elite soldier-turned-police officer and Leito, a good-hearted criminal from the projects and their attempt to keep the government from blowing up the crime-ridden, quarantined District 13.  Spoiler Alert: They do.  Fortunately for action fans, District 13: Ultimatum follows in its predecessor’s footsteps and maintains everything that made the first movie fun.  Hit the jump for the full review.

District 13: Ultimatum takes place a few years later and we find that District 13 is still a bad, albeit well-organized place.  The first few scenes catch us up on the world of Ultimatum.  District 13 is filled with criminals from seemingly every race and creed.  Arabs, Asians, and even white supremacists are represented.  It’s kind of like Epcot, but with slightly more sub-machine guns and drugs.  We then see Leito diplomatically applying timed mines to the fortified walls of District 13 which blow up behind him as he calmly walks away.

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Damien, meanwhile is infiltrating an obese mobster’s sex and drugs nightclub by dressing as a private dancer and seducing criminal after criminal.  When the police show up to raid the place, Damien has to fight his way out while protecting a nearly-priceless Van Gogh painting.  He proceeds to beat everybody’s ass by punching and kicking around the artwork.  It’s a fun action sequence with a bit of novelty and some outstanding fight choreography.

By this point in the movie, we know that Damien is still a rad cop and Leito is still badass enough to walk away from explosions without looking behind him.  Unsurprisingly, some government officials are still convinced that the only logical thing to do with District 13 is to wipe it out.  These same government officials stage an gang attack on a police car and then set up Damien to make sure that he doesn’t go back to D13 and save the day again.  Leito gets ahold of some video evidence that uncovers the government conspiracy to blow up the district and then gets a phone call from Damien asking to bust him out of prison.  Like a good friend, he does.  But only after leading police on a parkour chase through the slums.  Once again, the stunts are really impressive.

After reuniting, and busting out of prison, the pair start to put together a plan to once again save District 13 from being blown up.  Again.

Let me just start by saying that if you watch this movie, do yourself a favor and turn off the laughably bad English dub.  Believe me, reading the subtitles is much less distracting than the wooden, emotionless script-reading of the voice actors.  I realize that a movie like this is not so much about the acting as it is about the action, but that’s no excuse for a shoddy dub.

As for the plot, it’s not too hard to follow, although the ending did leave me with some questions.  At times, it seemed as if there was a blatant attempt to make a political commentary, especially with the evil corporation “Harriburton” but thankfully, it’s not a huge distraction.  For the viewers that may not be keeping up with the plot, the filmmakers put in a scene where Leito and Damien literally break the story down point by point.

The action sequences are the movie’s biggest strength and they are well shot.  There was never a point where I was confused about who was doing what to whom.  The most impressive part of the action is that the fight choreography and parkour stunts were mostly made up by the film’s co-stars (Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle).

The picture quality is fantastic and the sound isn’t bad at all.  HD action sequences never fail to make me happy and D13:U is no exception.

District 13: Ultimatum is a very solid action movie on it’s own and like any good sequel, it builds on what the original did well and adds something new.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The Blu Ray includes a Music video, some deleted scenes, the film’s production diary and a half-hour long Making Of featurette.

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