District B13 (Banlieue 13) (2004)

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Released 9-Jul-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of-Making Of: District B13 (54:57) (Full Frame)
Featurette-Extended Fight Scene - Casino (2:20)
Featurette-B-Roll Footage (2:55)
Theatrical Trailer-Madman Propaganda
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 84:34
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Pierre Morel
Europa Corp.
Madman Entertainment
Starring Cyril Raffaelli
David Belle
Tony D'Amario
Bibi Naceri
Dany Verissimo
François Chattot
Nicolas Woirion
Patrick Olivier
Samir Guesmi
Jérôme Gadner
Tarik Boucekhine
Grégory Jean
Warren Zavatta
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Bastide Donny
Da Octopuss
Damien Roques

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

“L'art du déplacement is a type of freedom. It is a kind of expression, trust in you. I do not think there is a clear definition for it. When you explain it to people, you say: yes I climb, I jump, I keep moving! It is the definition! But no one understand. They need to see things. It is only a state of mind. It is when you trust yourself, earn an energy. A better knowledge of your body, be able to move, to overcome obstacles in real world, or in virtual world, thing of life. Everything that touch you in the head, everything that touch in your heart. Everything touching you physically.” Châu Belle Dinh


Unfortunately the pleasing Luc Besson co-written film, Yamakasi - Les samouraïs des temps moderns (2001), which introduced pakour (L'art du déplacement - the art of displacement) to international cinema, still remains unreleased here in Australia. Yamakasi is a Lingala term which refers to a strong body, strong spirit, strong person – essentially complete freedom of movement. This is part of the philosophy of the Yamakasi - the name of a French group of practitioners of the art of displacement, free running and street stunts founded by David Belle and Sébastien Foucan. The original group which formed in 1997 (which now features different members) also included Yann Hnautra, Charles Perrière, Malik Diouf, Guylain N'Guba-Boyeke, Châu Belle Dinh and Williams Belle. There is a great documentary titled Génération Yamakasi - Vol au dessus des cités (which has screened on SBS on a few occasions) which offers an insightful look at the original members and their way of life, as well how Luc Besson translated their beliefs and art to the screen. (If you are interested, here is the link to the 70 minute documentary, subtitled in English.)

Yamakasi - Les samouraïs des temps moderns was a great success in France and spawned a sequel titled Les Fils du vent (2004) and as the art of pakour become internationally celebrated, practitioners were offered a number of lucrative opportunities and even though David Belle did not star in Yamakasi or it’s sequel, he was well regarded as one of the first generation practitioners of the sport and went on to appear in some entertaining commercials for Nike (view here), BBC One (view here) and Nissan (view here).

David Belle takes a central role in the 2004 international hit Banlieue 13, which is co-written and produced by Luc Besson and directed by Pierre Morel, whose latest film is the soon to be released Taken (2008), starring Liam Neeson.

Banlieue 13 is set in 2010 and is an extreme vision of the poverty-stricken housing projects which outline the central districts of Paris. It is interesting to note the film was released a year before the October and November 2005 civil unrest in France, which saw riots, violent clashes and the burning of cars and public buildings spread to housing projects across France. The civil unrest was triggered by the accidental death of two teenagers, Zyed Benna and Bouna Traoré, in Clichy-sous-Bois, a working-class commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris. Tragically the two teenagers were chased by the police and tried to hide from the police in a power substation, where they were electrocuted.

The future of Paris envisioned in Banlieue 13 sees the worst ghettos surrounded by isolation walls, effectively cutting off all the inhabitants of these areas from the rest of society - forcing them to survive without education, proper utilities or police protection. In these slums gangsters, drugs and guns are the norm.

Leïto, (David Belle) is a ghetto-dweller who does not permit drug-dealers near his neighbourhood and inadvertently incites a war against drug lord Taha (co-writer Bibi Naceri) when he destroys a large quantity of drugs. The drug lord retaliates by kidnapping Leïto’s young sister Lola (a role specifically written for Dany Verissimo). Leïto successfully evades Taha’s gang and tries to rescue his young sister but fails, and a police chief is killed in the process.

Leïto is imprisoned for murder, and his sister Lola is still held against her will by Taha, as the police do not interfere in the kidnapping in order to avoid confrontation and retaliation from Taha’s gang.

Six months later, undercover police officer Damien (renowned stuntman Cyril Raffaelli) has to find Taha, as he has stolen a nuclear weapon which will detonate in 24 hours. In order for Damien to make his way through the infamous ghetto, he must convince Leïto to lead him to Taha’s base. Leïto agrees and Damien aids Leïto’s prison escape and the two men from opposite sides of the law team up in a race against time to disarm the bomb and save Lola.

This incredibly visceral film is noted for all the stunts being completed without wires or computer generated effects and it shows. The plot can be forgiven as the action is energetic, the athleticism simply astonishing and the soundtrack is pulsating. A great action film experience!

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Transfer Quality


Banlieue 13 is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 16x9 enhanced widescreen.

The transfer has been encoded over a dual-layer DVD at an average bit-rate of 7.20 Mb/s.

The picture is bright and I believe the washed-out image quality and mild grain was intentional.

The natural and warm colour palette is well rendered with accurate skin tones.

Black levels are quite good as is shadow detail but there is a slight softness to the image.

The optional English subtitle stream is generally a good translation of the on-screen dialogue. However there is one glaring subtitle error which appears at 3:12 when “Merguez?” (a red, spicy sausage from North Africa) is translated as “Americans?” Both the English dubbed soundtracks also repeat this strange error.

The optional English subtitle track is encoded in a clear yellow Arial font.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


There are four audio tracks available, two are the original French soundtracks (Dolby Digital 2.0 and Dolby Digital 5.1) and the other two are the dubbed English soundtracks (Dolby Digital 2.0 and Dolby Digital 5.1).

All the soundtracks contain no apparent errors.

Both the English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks make full use of the surround sound and remain strong and dynamic throughout the feature film. Subwoofer usage is moderate and audible throughout the feature film.

The raw electronic score was created by Da Octopuss a French urban music band and Bastide Donny and Damien Roques. The score is unfortunately not available on Compact Disc.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio

The main menu is basic and practical - a still image background with access to the various audio options, 16 scene selections and the extra feature content. The menu is accompanied with a section of Résistant by Iron Sy.

The Making of Barrio 13 (54:57)

This French language one-hour long making-of is presented with optional English subtitles. The featurette includes interviews with the main cast and crew speaking about their roles and contribution to the film and also on-set footage of David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli rehearsing the various stunts. (Full Frame)

Extended Fight Scene - Casino (2:20)

The extended fight scene set in the casino is presented as the work print. (Full Frame)

Deleted Scene

This featurette is incorrectly labelled; rather this is a gag-reel featuring numerous prop errors and on-set laughs. (Full Frame)

Theatrical Trailer

The international trailer. (Full Frame)

Madman Propaganda

Following an anti-piracy warning focused on the Australian Film Industry – in particular Kenny, the following Madman Propaganda trailers are accessible:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The R4 Madman release is on par with R1 (US) Magnolia release and R1 (Canada) Alliance Atlantic release in terms of extra feature content and technical specifications.

Either R1 releases or the R4 Madman release are best for English speaking audiences.

In addition to the extra feature content and technical specifications of the R4 Madman release:

Banlieue 13 is also available on Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment in America (Region A). The 25GB Blu-ray Disc includes French and English DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack options.

Banlieue 13 was also released on HD DVD in the USA with an English Dolby TrueHD EX 5.1 mix – however the French option remained as a Dolby Digital-Plus EX mix.


Banlieue 13 is a well executed action film and shares the same qualities of the other internationally successful franchises produced by Luc Besson in recent years, such as the Taxi series and Transporter franchise, as well as Kiss of the Dragon, Ong Bak and Danny the Dog.

It is a shame that this title had a delayed DVD release in Australia, but make no mistake, Banlieue 13 still remains as exciting and visceral as it was on release. The Madman release includes a decent transfer of the film and a number of audio options as well as some enlightening extra feature content.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDOPPO DV-980H, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

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