District 13

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For other uses, see District 13 (disambiguation).
District 13
French-language poster
Directed by Pierre Morel
Produced by Luc Besson
Bernard Grenet
Written by Luc Besson
Bibi Naceri
Starring David Belle
Cyril Raffaelli
Dany Verissimo
Bibi Naceri
Tony D'Amario
Distributed by EuropaCorp (France)
Alliance Atlantis (2006) (Canada)
Cathay-Keris Films (2006) (Singapore)
EuropaCorp. Japan (2006) (Japan)
Hollywood Classic Entertainment (2005) (Czech Republic)
Magnolia Pictures (2006) (USA, subtitled)
Pro Films (2005) (Bulgaria)
Califórnia Home Vídeo (2005) (Brazil)
Madman Entertainment (2008) (Australia)
Magnolia Home Entertainment (2006-2010) (USA & Blu-Ray) (DVD)
Nordisk Film (2005) (Finland & Sweden) (DVD)
Universal Pictures Benelux (2005) (Netherlands)
Release dates
  • 10 November 2004 (2004-11-10) (France)
Running time 86 minutes
Country France
Language French
Budget €13,020,000 [1]
Box office $9,391,937

District 13 (French title Banlieue 13 or B13), is a 2004 French action film, directed by Pierre Morel and written and produced by Luc Besson.[2] The film is notable for its depiction of parkour in a number of stunt sequences that were completed without the use of wires or computer generated effects. Because of this, some film critics have drawn comparisons to the popular Thai film Ong-Bak.[3][4][5] David Belle, regarded as the founder of parkour, plays Leïto, one of the protagonists in the film.


In 2010, social problems such as violence, drugs and organized crime have overrun the poorer suburbs of Paris; especially Banlieue 13, commonly referred to as B13: a ghetto with a population of some two million. Unable to control B13, the authorities construct a high wall topped by barbed tape around the entire area, forcing the inhabitants within to survive without education, proper utilities or police protection behind the containment wall. Police checkpoints stop anybody going in or out.

Three years later, an almost feudal system has developed amongst the street gangs of B13. The area is now flooded with hard drugs, such as heroin, and completely controlled by gangsters. Certain blocks are ruled over by various individuals, and one high rise apartment block is looked after by an athletic and street-wise man known as Leïto (David Belle). Leïto hates drugs and injustice, and wages a one-man war against a neighboring gang lord named Taha Bemamud (Bibi Naceri) to keep his own building and people safe and free of drugs. Leïto captures 20 kg of cocaine from Taha, worth over a million euro, which incites Taha to send his thugs to recover the merchandise, led by the towering K2 (Tony D'Amario). Leïto destroys the cocaine by using bleach and uses parkour to evade Taha's thugs through the building and across rooftops.

Taha kidnaps Leïto's younger sister Lola (Dany Verissimo) to use against him, but Leïto manages to invade Taha's base, rescue his sister, and kidnap Taha in turn. Leïto takes Taha to the police office at the edge of the district perimeter, but the police are in the process of abandoning their position on orders from the French Ministry, and are also threefold outnumbered by Taha's gang. The police release Taha and allow him to take Lola with him to avoid a confrontation. In addition, they put Leïto in a cell also to contain the situation, but Leïto kills the police chief in the process for handing over Lola.

Six months later, outside of B13 in the affluent areas of Paris, an undercover police captain named Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli) infiltrates an underground casino and attempts to arrest Carlos Montoya, the gangster who owns it. His extraction procedure fails, however, forcing him to fight his way through an army of thugs to escape the casino. Upon the mission's completion, Damien immediately receives another assignment from his chief and also the Defence Secretary of France, Mr Krüger. He is told that Taha has stolen an experimental neutron bomb that is set to detonate in 24 hours. His mission is to convince Leïto, imprisoned for months, to lead him to Taha's base so that he can disarm the bomb.

Damien attempts to pass himself off as a fellow prisoner and helps Leïto escape to B13, but Leïto sees through Damien's act and abandons him. After fighting off some of the local thugs, Damien locates Leïto and admits the truth. They team up to disarm the bomb and rescue Lola. The pair surrenders to Taha in order to gain access to his base. There, they discover that Taha has rigged the warhead to a missile launcher, pointed towards the center of Paris and is prepared to blackmail the government with it. Taha demands a high ransom, which is refused by Damien's government contact. The pair escape, and while Taha's thugs pursue them, he discovers that the government has emptied all of his offshore accounts in the Bahamas and elsewhere. One of Taha's men asks how Taha will pay them. Frustrated, Taha tries to shoot the member who asked him that only to discover that his gun is empty from shooting one of his thugs for letting Leïto and Damien escape. Taha offers money from a safe he possesses but knowing that with Tahas accounts emptied, there is no reason to endure his ruthlessness any longer, the thugs shoot and kill Taha. This leaves K2, a more sympathetic leader, in charge and K2 has a moment of reconciliation with Leïto, suggesting that peace is possible in the future within B13.

Leïto and Damien fight their way to the tower building holding Lola and the bomb. They are confronted by their final obstacle: Yeti, a substantial henchman left by Taha to block their access to the bomb. Damien underestimates Yeti and tries attacking him, but is gradually overpowered. Leito helps out Damien and gains the upper hand with the henchman by tying him up with electric cord. Damien then picks up a cinderblock and smashes it on Yeti's head, knocking him out. Having defeated Yeti, Damien calls his contact to receive the deactivation code, 9293709B13. Leïto recognizes the code as a reference to the bomb's location (92 and 93 are the two area codes of the departements that make up District 13), the day's date (7 September), and the district, B13. Leïto deduces that the government has set them up and the code will actually detonate the bomb instead of deactivating it. He fights Damien to prevent him, who chose to believe in the government over Leito, from entering the code. Damien almost does so, but is restrained by Lola. The timer runs out and the bomb does not detonate, proving Leïto's theory.

The pair return to the government building with the bomb and use it to force Mr Krüger admit that he had planned to blow up B13 as a means to get rid of it. The confession is then revealed to have been filmed and is immediately broadcast by pirate television transmission across all channels. The pair's actions cause a major scandal that sparks public support for B13. Soon the rest of the government promises to tear down the containment wall and bring back schools and police to B13. Leïto and Damien depart as friends, and Lola kisses Damien to encourage him to visit B13 in the future.



District 13 received mostly positive reviews outside of France, it holds a rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 110 reviews.[6] In France however, the movie received mostly negative reviews from both spectators and press, holding on Allociné, a French cinema website, a 2.8 out of 5, based on 4 press critics, and a 2.1 out of 5 based on 6992 spectator votes.[1] The main issues pointed by the French critics were the similarity with both Escape from New York and Ong Bak, and the shallowness of the plot.[7]


Filming of a sequel, originally titled "Banlieue 14", began in August 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia,[8] and continued until October 2008.[9] David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli both reprised their original roles of Leito and Damien, respectively.[10] The film with Luc Besson again producing and writing the screenplay. The title for the sequel was officially changed to District 13: Ultimatum in the post-production stages.[11] It was released in France on February 18, 2009, and the United Kingdom on October 2, 2009.


Main article: Brick Mansions

An English-language remake of the film, set in Detroit, was titled Brick Mansions, began pre-production in 2010 by EuropaCorp.[12][13][14][15][16][17] It was released in April 2014, and stars Paul Walker as Damien, with David Belle reprising his role from the original and rapper RZA as the gang leader. Brick Mansions is also the last movie that Walker finished before his death in November 2013.


  1. ^ a b "Banlieue 13". AlloCiné (in French). Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  2. ^ Hernandez, Eugene (November 21, 2005). "Magnolia's Plans Spring '06 Release for French Parkour Action Title, "District 13"". Biz. indieWIRE. Archived from the original on March 20, 2006. Retrieved March 14, 2006. 
  3. ^ Orndorf, Brian (May 26, 2006). "FilmJerk.com - Reviews - District 13, "District 13"". FilmJerk. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  4. ^ Faraci, Devin (June 2, 2006). "Chud.com - Reviews - District 13, "District 13"". Chud.com. Retrieved July 13, 2008. 
  5. ^ McAllister, Matt (December 8, 2005). "Futuremovies.co.uk - Reviews - District 13, "District 13"". Futuremovies.co.uk. Retrieved July 13, 2008. 
  6. ^ "District B13 (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN. Retrieved 2010-03-22. 
  7. ^ Carratier, Mathieu. "Critiques de Banlieue 13". Première (in French). Retrieved 23 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Radojkovic, Marija (July 22, 2008). "Luc Besson shoots his new film in Belgrade". Blic Online. Retrieved September 5, 2008. 
  9. ^ Belle, Jean-François. "CASTING Banlieue 13 'la suite'" (in French). Official Parkour Blog. Retrieved September 5, 2008. Attention le tournage est prévu entre juillet et octobre 2008 
  10. ^ Banlieue 13:Ultimatum at the Internet Movie Database
  11. ^ "DISTRICT B13 sequel renamed BANLIEUE 13 - ULTIMATUM". 
  12. ^ allocine (French)
  13. ^ Quiet Earth
  14. ^ worstpreviews
  15. ^ comingsoon
  16. ^ wegotthiscovered
  17. ^ Variety

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