Brick Mansions: a cop must team up with a convicted cop killer to take down Detroit’s most vicious drug dealer, who’s holding the city ransom with a nuclear bomb. The biggest thing that this has going for it is action; lots and lots of action. David Belle action is always a treat to watch, and his stunts are all to a high standard. David Belle’s dubbed face on the other hand isn’t as fun to watch, if anything, a little distracting, and it’s not just the syncing, but the ultra low gruff effects that make him sound like Vin Diesel. Paul Walker doesn’t lag too far behind Belle in the action stakes, which is surprising. With 90 minutes of sweet action, a ticking clock scenario, lame-ish acting and a basic, predictable story – it’s essentially a flashy B movie. Then there’s a massive elephant in the room though; the originals – which, if you’ve seen them, completely take the wind out of Brick Mansion’s sails as large sections are literally scene for scene, jump for jump, punch for punch re-shoots – with a bigger budget. Add to the fact thar this that 10 years on, Parkour is not as cool or fresh, and that the crucial social commentary (and plot in general) feels like more of an afterthought in this one – it lets the film down. If you have no interest in foreign films, this is as solid a B movie action film as they get, but if you’re feeling adventurous I’d absolutely recommend D13 and D13 Ultimatum over this.
District 13: Ultimatum – It’s slightly further away in the near future and something’s still rotten in
Denmark Paris as bent cops, politicians and corrupt gangs continue to take advantage of the everyman! This ups the ante from District 13, opening with a the supercop – in drag – pulling off a 20-minute-long mind-bendingly intricate bust – capturing baddies and fighting his way out of a triad/yakuza heavy restaurant. Everything about the action is bigger, better, harder, faster and more creative than the first film (fight scene with the painting is so cool). I’d also like to point out some of the most hardcore stuntmen I’ve seen in all my years, hat’s of to those guys. Despite bigger stunts, bigger swat teams, bigger explosions and so on, this doesn’t really hit the mark as the socio-political commentary totally smothers the film, and it’s so, so cheesy this time round; especially when all of the rivaling gangs unite to bring down ‘the man‘ – Bleurgh! In saying this, scenes like the +50 Urban ninjas scaling elaborate walls and storming a political embassy are still great to watch. It has some good bits but this really does feel like a sequel for the sake of a sequel – only worth catching for the sensational action sequences.
District 13: It’s the near future and entire urban areas of an unstable Paris are walled off to contain the scum! From the very first frame, this film’s an insane mix of athleticism, action, martial arts and physical prowess. The jaw-dropping breakneck action is complemented spectacularly with ultra-slick editing (that show’s every single jump clearly from start to finish) and pounding Euro techno/grime music. While the action’s totally nuts, it ends up being used quite sparsely and never really surpasses the opening chase scene. Much of the run-time is beefed up with huge sections of socio-political story, clearly rooted in modern France, which makes the story pretty believable. Despite there being no ‘real’ actors everyone’s good to watch and the two main guys in particular are solid – the theory Vs reality angle makes for some great back-and-forth. The style and feel are 100% gritty, urban, French and in-yer-face. Everything’s aimed at the guys, from the uber macho gangsters right down to the grotesque super sports cars. With the Taken director behind the camera and Luc Besson as producer you’re in good hands here, and although this goes down in most people’s books as ‘that parkour film’ it shouldn’t be overlooked, as District 13 winds up being a very enjoyable, solid action flick with remarkable stunts and a worthy & interesting story to match.