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District 13: Ultimatum (2010) *1/2

February 5, 2010

Written by: Luc Besson
Produced by: Luc Besson
Directed by: Patrick Alessandrin
Rated R for some violence, language and drug material
101 min.

U.S. Release Date: February 5, 2010 (limited)

It has been a while since I’ve seen a good old fashioned action film.  It has probably been a while since a straight cheesy action film has been made (in the US at least)… the Jason Bourne series are probably the last good ones I can think of in terms of great action sequences.  I assure you, you will witness fantastically fun action sequences in “District 13: Ultimatum”… but I can also assure you that you will hear ridiculously cheesy dialogue, see hard-to-read subtitles, and the bare rear of a man in drag.  Still interested?

After a series of shady activities by the local authorities, one of the crime-filled district’s (District 13) of this no-named city breaks out in civil war.  The gangs are fighting each other, the gangs are fighting the police, the police are fighting against their local government, and the local government is leading an offensive against the gangs.  Who can bring the people together, you ask?  Leito, a baggy pants wearing wayward parkour stuntman from the ghettos of District 13 (played by David Belle) uses his amazing stunts and acrobatics in attempts to bring the city to peace.  Is any of this exciting you?

Despite having a screenplay that was worse than “Legion” (yes, it’s true), and characters who play on global cultural stereotypes (almost everyone looks like a character from “Street Fighter”), the film is packed with some really fun action sequences.  We get to see a car chase sequence that, dare I say, rivals that of “The Bourne Identity”, on-foot chase sequences that rival the opening scene in “Casino Royale”, and fighting sequences that are as good anything in the last several years.  It was exciting to sit amongst a sold-out theater and hear the audience reaction (sometimes a little too enthusiastic) to some of the on-screen stunts these guys pull off.

Since I saw this one for free, I’m a little skewed, but I don’t think I can recommend that “District 13: Ultimatum” be seen in the theater.  The film is going straight to DVD in several European markets, and I would probably be very pleased if I stumbled upon this in a video store, but not after throwing away ten dollars on it.  Hold off until the DVD release (which probably won’t be long) and enjoy this cheesy, but very fun, film.

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