District B13. Never heard of it? That’s okay, not many people have. Why haven’t you heard of it? It’s a short, cheesy, parkour, French, action flick. Yes, French. They made a really fun action flick despite their desire to surrender at the drop of a hat. (Kidding, kidding.)
My husband and I discovered this movie several years ago (if the parkour didn’t give it away) on Netflix. You know how you can find the strangest movies on Netflix? This was one of those. It details out the bonding of two men – one a cop and one a criminal. The basic plot of the movie is they must work together to stop a bomb from blowing up the entire district and killing millions. It involves gangs, the government, the criminal’s sister, and lots of fun parkour fights. Out of all the parkour styled action flicks which came out when it was in vogue, this is my favorite. It gets right to the point, doesn’t take itself too seriously and avoids several raunchy areas by just skating over them. It could have indulged itself but it doesn’t, which is really nice. One word of warning: don’t try to watch it in English. The dubbing is like trying to watch an Anime that’s been dubbed. And I’m not talking about Spirited Away. I’m talk about the ones with the horrible voice actors. This is the same. Watch it with the subtitles. Don’t worry, there’s not much talking during the action scenes.
The parkour is fluidic, creative, and shows cases its martial arts core. The only bad part is that as you get older there’s this little voice in the back of your head thinking, “man, that must’ve hurt”.
The ultimate fight at the end is between the two heroes, one trying to do his job and one trying to convince him to look past his job and see the truth. I think it’s one of the elements that makes this movie. No one else can really match the heroes’ physical abilities, so a fight between them seems natural. Instead of putting their fight at the beginning of their adventure to bond them, it’s put at the end to build emotional impact. The audience knows which hero is right and which is wrong, but you don’t want them hurting each other, you don’t want them to fight. You can tell they don’t want to hurt each other but the situation demands that they give their all for what they believe. And that makes for a great fight and an emotionally climatic scene.
Action flicks are great for teaching basic story telling: keep the plot simple. Simplicity doesn’t equal boring or show a lack of creativity. Start by creating a very real conflict: Bomb going off in a city. Build to a climax: who’s right about the bomb and can he convince the other in the space of a minute. Tidy up quickly: The letdown should be short and sweet, not long. If you’re new at writing, I suggest using action flicks as a way to learn the craft of basic storytelling.
And if you enjoy cheesy action flicks, I recommend District B13. (BTW – District B13 Ultimatum was not nearly as good, just skip it.)