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The Watching Hour Preview: District B13

The Watching Hour is a weekly film series at the Starz Film Center, highlighting new and old cult, genre, or otherwise bizarro movies. Quite simply, The Watching Hour is usually the best thing to do in Denver on a Friday or Saturday night. From Giallo to schlock, Blaxploitation to Aussiesploitation, zombies to martial arts to who-knows-what, and everywhere in between. This is good ol’ rock and roll cinema spectacle. Not to be missed. (See the schedule, buy tickets, get directions, etc. here.)

Paris 2010 (the future). The city has become so dangerous that the ghettos have been walled off, Dead End Drive-In style. Gangsters from the city’s most dangerous ghetto – District B13 – have stolen a nuclear weapon. Now the last hope for Paris is a loner cop and a criminal with an axe to grind who infiltrate District B13 in a last ditch attempt to avert disaster. Oh yeah, they’re both parkour masters, by the way. Bitchin’.

What’s parkour, you ask? It’s a sort of French martial arts, where the goal is to use only your body and the objects in your environment to jump around and look like a total badass. The movie’s stars Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle are real, honest to goodness parkour badasses, so at the very least, this movie is going to be a boatload of fun to watch. Throughout the last decade, action fans really hungered for ‘no CGI, no wires.’ The genius of this subgenre is without question Tony Jaa, the best straight-up, lean, mean martial arts movie star since Bruce Lee. Jaa’s Ong Bak and The Protector set the genre bar so high, I worry that they might never be bested. District B13 is produced by Mehdi Sayah, who also produced Ong Bak. That might not necessarily amount to much, but you never know.

As if the B13 lineup wasn’t already strange enough, the movie is written by Luc Besson. Though Leon: The Professional is the only movie of his I have whole-heartedly adored, I’m always game to step into his world. You can’t accuse him of suffering from too little ambition, that’s all I’m saying. The idea of plopping two legit parkour masters down in the middle of a Luc Besson fantasy world sounds like nothing more or less like a great time at the movies. Here’s hoping District B13 is more Leon: The Professional than The Fifth Element. Here’s hoping it’s more Ong Bak than…Ong Bak 2?

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