Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle make a sensationally appealing team in this follow-up to their hit film “District B13.” Belle is the creator of “parkour,” a stunt spectacular that turns an entire city into an obstacle course. It has become popular — the opening chase scene in “Casino Royale,” real-life competitions, and thousands of of do-it-yourself videos — something between gymnastics, acrobatics, and levitation as people jump through windows and between buildings. Raffaelli is the best movie martial arts guy since Jet Li. And they have a great chemistry as a loner and a special forces cop who join forces against pervasive institutional corruption.
There is a pointed reference to real-life institutional corruption (including a government-connected mega-corporation called “Harriburton”) but let’s be honest, this is all about the bang-bang and the bang-bang is done with a wink and a boatload of style.
It is 2016. The undesirables of Paris live in a walled section of the city, District 13. Belle plays Leito. He operates on his own but he has cordial relationships with the various ethnic factions. Raffaelli plays Damian, something of a super-cop, who brings down a powerful drug lord using his skills as a detective, strategist, fighter, and something of a disguise artist as well. When he is framed by corrupt cops and Leito comes across evidence of a set-up to start a riot in District 13, they team up.
Damian takes on batches of baddies at a time, once while protecting a priceless Van Gogh. Leito leaps across rooftops with the hang time of a helium balloon. Later on a crime boss named Tao (Elodie Yung) joins in when they assemble a coalition of gangs to prevent their home from being destroyed by missiles. Sort of.
Okay, no one is taking any of this too seriously. But the stunts and fight scenes are electric and entertaining and the film-making is kinetic and a lot of fun. For the character’s sake, I hope that happy ending holds, but for my own, I’d like to see another bunch of bad guys so Raffaelli and Belle — and Yung — can go after them again.