Archive for the David Belle Category

The American Remake of District B-13 is here! Brick Mansions Trailer!

Posted in David Belle on February 12, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

Brick Mansions

Hmm. I’m not sure why someone felt District B-13 needed to be remade, but here it is, the last complete film of Paul Walker. The film is written and produced by Luc Besson, who of course handled those duties on the first film, and David Belle returns playing the same character. So many of the shots look exactly like those taken from the original it made me wonder even more why they chose to remake this film. Now, the question is does Paul Walker do a good job replacing Cyril Raffaelli? Of course his acting would be better, but what about the fight scenes? Would they be Jason Bourned’ up so he can fake his fight scenes better? Would RZA make a better Taha? And what about my favorite character from the film, K2? I see a big guy who might be him, but c’mon. Anyway, the trailer looks good, and for you Kiai-Kickers I’ll go see it and compare it to the original, whose review you can read here. The remake drops April 25.



Review: District 13: Ultimatum (2009)

Posted in Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Luc Besson with tags , , on August 2, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, MC Jean Gab’1, Elodie Yung, Philippe Torreton, Daniel Duval

Fight Choreography by Cyril Raffaelli

Directed by Patrick Alessandrin

Luc Besson produced a hit with the original District B13, which gave perhaps the best showcase of parkour (free-running) in film to date. The film revolved around uptight cop Damien Tomaso (Raffaelli), who must get into a walled-off slum district in Paris to stop a local drug lord from selling a nuke, one that he received unbeknownst to him from members of the government themselves in an attempt to wipe out the population of District B13, the only way they believe they can eradicate the bad elements–by wiping everyone out. Damien succeeded, with the help of gang leader Leito (Belle), who was looking to save his sister from the drug lord. At the end the French government promised to take down the walls and rebuild the post office and schools. Damien promised he would make sure the government kept their word.

That didn’t exactly go as expected…

Fast forward to three years later, and District 13 is now as jacked up as ever, even worse as new gangs run the city. Leito now detonates bombs to create holes in the giant wall, and, in a fun opening chase, draws the ire of the police. Damien, meanwhile, is still doing whatever it takes to get the bad guys, even dressing up as a transvestite in order to get close to one, but finds his success a double-edged sword as he is set up by DISS (The French version of the FBI, I suppose) to take the fall for drugs found in his apartment. At the same time, the DISS murders two police officers, and then set the car with the bodies nearby a local gang hideout in District 13. What they don’t know is that a group of youths recorded the murders, and attempt to get the proof into the hands of Leito, who must break Damien out of jail first, before gathering all of the gangs, one in particular led by the beautiful but deadly Tao (Yung) to give a final assault on the Capital building in Paris where a reluctant President is being goaded by his military commanders and the head of DISS to fire a missles from attack choppers to destroy the corrupt and “evil” District 13. Damien and Leito must fight their way to the President, but are they wanting to stop the President or help him destroy District 13?…

This is a much bigger film in many respects from the original, and the story is tighter, but there were characters like K2 and Taha and Lola from the first film that I really missed in this one, and the void they leave isn’t really filled. Not that there would be much time for that as Patrick Alessandrin keeps things moving at a brisk pace, moving even faster than the first film, hitting many of the story beats of the original, perhaps too much. The opening fight between Rafaelli and the club thugs over a painting is fun but not as humorous as the opening of District B13 in the illegal casino hall. The same goes for David Belle’s first run, where the police chase him, isn’t the jaw-dropper that the run in the first film was, but they make up for it later with an extended chase across rooftops that surely caused many of the stuntmen to pay their chiropractor or massage therapist extra, and Cyril has a great fight versus the police in the scene where he tries to escape the police station. Bigger is the word here, and the finale, where you see dozens of parkour practitioners scaling the walls of the capital building is a site to see. Rafaelli and Belle inhabit the skins of their characters again with ease, and MC Jean Gab’1 is a lot of fun as well, but Elodie Yung almost steals the film away as Tao. She’s a tattooed deadly beauty, with long ponytailed hair that have blades attached to the ends, which she uses rope-dart style to fight her opponents. Tao would’ve made an awesome evil Bond girl!

The fights, once again choreographed by Cyril, very much have a late 80’s, early 90’s Jackie Chan style about them. It’s both playful and painful to watch, as stuntmen bounce off of a bunch of things, and sometimes a few things in the same fall. The fight versus the police officers is the best yet, and Cyril keeps showing everyone that he needs to have more films of his own!  David Belle’s parkour suffers a bit, as some of the stunts are camera trickery and special effects, but enough of it is real so it didn’t bother me much. It just didn’t seem necessary as David Belle’s running is enough of a special effect.

As an aside, I don’t care what the story calls for, in no way does Cyril Rafaelli look that female from behind during the club scenes at the beginning. It’s just wrong. That whole scene is ten pounds of wrong.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) Cyril Raeffelli channels Jackie Chan-style fight choreography in some scenes, but is able to pull it off, playfulness intact.

STUNTWORK: (9) The stunt men put their work in here, falling a lot and bouncing off of various pieces of walls and furniture, and the parkour chase scenes are great as well.

STAR POWER (7): Neither Cyril Raeffelli nor David Belle’s careers have taken off as much as it would’ve been expected, which is disappointing. Elodie Yung appears to be getting more roles, and will star as Jinx in GI Joe: Retaliation next year.

FINAL GRADE: (8) District 13 Ultimatum is a worthy follow-up to the surprise hit District B13, and parkour and martial arts has never looked better.

NEXT: Jang Dong Gun, Kate Bosworth and Geoffrey Rush take on Ti Lung in The Warrior’s Way!

Review: District B-13 (2005)

Posted in Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Luc Besson, Reviews with tags , on July 21, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle

Fight Choreography by Cyril Raffaelli

Directed by Pierre Morel

It’s always refreshing to be introduced to a new style of martial art or some new form of movement. The latest craze is a style of free running called Parkour, created by Frenchman David Belle, one of the stars of the film. Not surprising, the craze really started after this film was released, produced by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) and directed by Pierre Morel (Taken).

The film opens in Paris in the year 2010, where the roughest neighborhood, District B13, has been walled off from the rest of the city so the violence doesn’t bleed out into the rest of Paris. The opening is great as the camera darts all over B13 until we are introduced to Leito (Belle) a gang lord who does what he can to protect the community from drug lords like the biggest one, Taha. He takes the dope off of the streets, literally. We meet him after he as just ripped off Taha of a case of drugs, which causes K2, Taha’s lead charismatic henchman to show up with a group of thugs to get the drugs back. He outsmarts Leito’s men (which isn’t a difficult feat) and goes after Leito, and we are treated to the first parkour scene, a brilliant scene, perhaps really the first of its kind on film, and is simply a brilliant staging of camera and movement. You’ll be breathless at the end.

Afterward we meet Taha, and right from the Big Book of Villany he kills one of his own men for not having an idea on how to capture Leito. K2 comes up with the plan to kidnap Leito’s sister Lola in exchange for the money for the drugs Leito destroyed. Leito kinda figured they would do this, and ninjas his way into Taha’s place and takes Taha hostage just as Lola is delivered to him. Together with Taha they escape, chased by his goons all the way to the police station, only to find that the police are on their way out of B13.The lead cop frees Taha but captures Leito because he wants to return home os he can retire peacefully. Taha also takes Lola with him, and in return for his betrayal Leito gives the cop an early retirement present. A very permanent one.

Fast forward 6 months later, and we meet Damien (Raffaelli) an undercover cop in the middle of bringing down an illegal gambling ring. There is great humor here as the mob boss wonders why it is he can’t hire college educated henchmen, instead of the regular doofuses. FINALLY! I’ve waited years to see one baddie vent about this, and someone actually did it. He even said in this economy it should be easy. Right again! Before long he wishes he had thought of all this sooner, as Damien reveals himself, and the fight scenes in the casino are terrific, with Raffaelli showing the promise he displayed in Jet Li’s Kiss of the Dragon.

Afterward we get to the meat of the story: the government lost a small nuclear bomb while the top secret truck carrying it was going through B13. The bomb has found its way to Taha, who opened the case, starting a 24 hour timer before the bomb explodes, killing thousands within the district. Damien will need to go undercover using Leito as his guide to find Taha and the bomb. Leito is currently in prison for killing that cop, and Damien must first break him out, which he does as they are being transported to another facility. Leito gets Damien into B13, but figures out quickly that he’s a cop, and leaves his ass in the middle of gang territory after their van crushes the sports car of the lead gangster in the area. Damien eventually gets out of it, and finds Leito, and the two form an uneasy alliance once the stakes are laid out.

They allow themselves to be captured by K2, who takes them back to Taha, who wants 20 million in exchange for the bomb. To complicate matters, Taha has attached the bomb to a missile he had lying around(!) and has chained Lola to the bottom of the missle with a gas canister next to her. Damien tricks Taha into giving the account numbers for his money in the Camen Islands, but the police will not give up the money, but Damien doesn’t tell Taha this, nor does he tell Taha that he police went in to all of his accounts and cleaned him out. Damien and Leito escape after this, and head for the bomb. Once his accountant tells him about his money disappearing, we finally get the consequences of the whole “you failed to kill/capture so and so, so I’ll kill one of you to prove a point of how evil I am.” There should be an amendment in the Big Book of Villany that says you can do this-so long as you have the money to pay everyone else.Taha didn’t, and even K2 turns his back on him as his former henchmen blow him into a thousand pieces of little Taha. K2 finds himself the appointed leader, and sends the men out to get Leito and Damien. How often do you see the lead henchman become the main man? Hell, Darth Vader had the force and the Emperor still didn’t let his ass get near the Big Chair!

After another great Parkour chase they get to the building, but once they enter they find themselves having to contend with a final present Taha left them, a behemoth with the limited strength of the Hulk, but really, really slow. After they take him out, they get to the bomb and find themselves fighting each other to decide the fate of B13. Even though David Belle doesn’t know martial arts, the fight is not too bad, as each man uses he beliefs to fight to disable/maybe enable the bomb. Eventually the men who sent Damien on this mission get a surprise of their own when both men turn up on their doorstep.

Damien promises Leito that things will change, but we know that’s not true since District B13: Ultimatum has come out…

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (6) I had wished there was more fighting with Cyril. He’s proven to be a great martial artist and I want to see more of him. What was there was great. There just needed to be more of it.

STUNTS: (8) Great stuntwork in the fights and parkour scenes. The falls were well done, Hong Kong style, and the parkour was breathtaking.

STAR POWER: (6) It remains to be seen. Cyril and David can either become major action stars or fade into oblivion from here. Cyril has been a thug in many films, and here he finds a film to finally showcase his skills. We need to see more of this guy!

FINAL GRADE: (7) A good film that introduced Parkour to the masses, and even action heroes like James Bond would find himself chasing guys like these around. Score another martial arts hit for producer Luc Besson.