Since hearing about parkour somewhere I was interested in seeing District B13 (btw I never liked making imdb links for films, but I found wikipedia — of course — has a film project so I plan to make links there). It finally came out on DVD and I rented it the other night.
First, it was dubbed, which is really bad. The voices didn’t really match the characters too well, so some of it sounded very silly. I suppose there was probably subtitling on the DVD, but I was feeling pretty lazy so I just let it play.
The plot is lame, as you might expect. And it was even funnier to watch the “making of” special feature and hear a couple actors talk about the social impact of the film. Funnier in a sad sort of way; I felt embarrassed for them.
Of course, you aren’t going to watch this film to be dazzled by its intricate plot, or to hear its witty dialog, or to see the characters grow and change. Instead you’re watching for the choreography, hoping to see a violent and hypercool Fred Astaire. The parkour practitioners don’t disappoint. The first chase scene was the best (really you could stop after this and not miss anything); it was delightful to watch.
The other sad thing about the “making of” clip was hearing David Belle talk a bit about parkour. As he talked I thought about punk rock, or the early free software movement, or all the other things I’ve occasionally wished were never commoditized; and I wondered whether he struggles through the same search to find something private, that can be shared, without being flattened, packaged, and sold.