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Banlieue 13

To stop the uncontrollable spiral of violence in the suburbs of Paris, the government has set up walls around problem areas and posted police checkpoints at the entrances. A couple of years later, these parts of town are ruled by gangsters that dwell in the chaos and violence. When a dangarous weapon of mass destruction accidentally gets stolen by one of these gangs, officer Damien is sent in to disarm it. Together with Leito, an inhabitant of Banlieue 13 that was put in jail, he goes undercover but it quickly becomes clear that things are not always what they seem.

Sound and Vision:
The image quality is sharp and has good contract and bright colors. The shadow detail is also very decent and compression errors aren’t present.

The French DTS 5.1 track is extremely good and there’s no problems on the technical side. The only thing that people might irritate is the choice of music during some of the chase-scenes. French cinema clearly hasn’t got the touch yet to add music that goes perfectly with action as although I’m a techno fan even I got irritated at times.

Extras:
– Making Of: a very interesting Making of that covers all the different aspects of the creation of this movie. Behind-the-scenes footage is accompanied with interview fragments with cast & crew and for once we don’t get the usual promotional blabber that is so typical for Hollywood features
– Long version of the Casino scene: a longer and more spectacular version of the Casino scene that should have been put in the movie.
– Bloopers: rather boring
– General Repetition: a 1-minute behind the scenes look that’s hardly worth checking out
– Trailer

Conclusion:
With The 5th Element, Luc Besson brought French cinema back into the picture after having put in a state of coma for several years. Unfortunately, Luc Besson is still one of the few people that gets French pictures off the ground and it’s clear that French cinema has still a lot of work before it will be able to compete with Hollywood again.

Banlieue 13 is one of the latest French action-flics to be released on DVD and doesn’t come with the slapstick comedy we’ve gotten to know from the Taxi-series. The action is already at Hollywood level and maybe even slightly better (combination of Jackie Chan fights with great chase scenes) but the storyline which starts out pretty interesting ends up as a mushed potatoes: Extremely predictable and too flat.

Universal has done a good job with the release on DVD, adding some interesting extras and good image & sound quality. If you’re looking for a no-brain action movie you don’t need to check out Hollywood anymore, the French show with Banlieue 13 they can deliver and equally good (or bad?) product.

Our Score:
4.0

posted in: DVD, Reviews, Universal
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