Luc Besson

District B13 (2004)

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Luc Besson, the man behind the films La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element amongst others, wrote the screenplay for this amazing action packed film that highlights the free running art of parkour, and its creator, David Belle.

The title of the film refers to a lowly district outside of Paris, which has been plagued with gang violence. It goes so bad that there is no government, no police, and no schools. However, it is the home of Leito, a loner who only cares about one thing: his sister Lola. When Leito learns that Lola has been kidnapped by local crime lord Taha because Leito refuses to let drug dealers near his place, he intends to take Taha down.

Six months later, a bomb has been placed in District B13 and it is up to Damian Tomaso, a tough as nails Parisian cop, to enter the area and find the bomb. It is no sooner that Damian and Leito find themselves on the same page as the bomb was stolen by none other than Taha. Both Leito and Damian have special skills that enable them to take on the bad guys. This becomes a highlight reel for the amazing art of parkour, a style that involves scaling buildings with no use of wires and jumping from rooftop to rooftop as well as martial arts courtesy of Raffaelli, who gained a following after his impressive performance in Besson’s 2001 thriller Kiss of the Dragon opposite Jet Li.

While Besson is credited with co-writing the screenplay with co-star Larci “Bibi” Naceri and producing the film, the film was directed by Pierre Morel, who got his start as a cinematographer who worked on the first installment of The Transporter trilogy. For his directorial debut, Morel used his expert sense of cinematography with director of photography Manuel Teran to showcase the action sequences, choreographed by Raffaelli. The film made great use of its locales and buildings that were used for Belle’s and Raffaelli’s parkour skills.

As much as many movie viewers may see this as a routine action thriller, Besson has always been known for giving quality entertainment. With the success of The Transporter and Kiss of the Dragon, Besson wrote this film just for Belle and Raffaelli. Belle and Raffaelli both got their starts as stuntmen and bit players, but this film helped put them on the map as worthy lead actors. Both men have the acting skills and the action skills to carry the film and it succeeded. It did so well that a sequel, District B13: Ultimatum was released in 2009 and a U.S. remake, Brick Mansions, which would be the final completed film of late actor Paul Walker, was released in 2014.

The only flaw of the film is that there wasn’t enough villains who had the tendency to match the skills of Belle and Raffaelli. Taha is the sly crime lord who just sits around and lets his men do the work. His number one man, K2, is a big man who relies on two things, his gun and big mouth, to act like the big shot. The other villains are played by parkour artists, but they are there basically to look foolish and get beaten around by Belle and Raffaelli. Another villain comes in the form of a wrestler like guy who absorbs Raffaelli’s kicks and only gets defeated when Belle uses his parkour skills to tie a rope around the big oaf. They needed to have a worthy opponent or two to make some of the action scenes a little more interesting.

Despite the lack of “worthy opponents”, District B13 is still a fun film to watch, especially to see the art of parkour in full effect.


A EuropaCorp/TF1 Production in association with Canal+. Director: Pierre Morel. Producer: Luc Besson. Writers: Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri. Cinematography: Manuel Teran. Editing: Stéphanie Gaurier and Frédéric Thoraval.

Cast: Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Tony D’Amario, Bibi Naceri, Dany Verissimo, François Chattot, Nicolas Woirion, Patrick Olivier, Samir Guesmi, Jérôme Gadner.


Sasha Luss is Besson’s “Anna”


Luc Besson has found his latest action muse.

With the failure of his recently released Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Besson had mentioned that he would be doing another female-driven action film and now some details has been revealed.

The film will be titled Anna and will begin shooting in November. Russian-born model Sasha Luss (above), who made her film debut as Princess Lïhio-Minaa and Creature ‘Candy Dress’ in the aforementioned Valerian, has been cast in the titular role.

Plot details are unknown, but it has been announced that Luss will be joined by Helen Mirren, Luke Evans, and Cillian Murphy.

In addition to Anna, Besson is developing a sequel to his 2014 sci-fi film Lucy, which starred Scarlett Johansson.

More as this develops.

H/T: Dark Horizons

Ready for More “Lucy”? Just Wait…


Are you ready for another round of action with Lucy? If your answer is “yes”, you will have to wait just a little bit longer.

Coming off the recent failure of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, EuropaCorp’s number one, Luc Besson, has completed a script for a sequel to the 2014 sci-fi-style action thriller that starred Scarlett Johansson as a drug mule who while smuggling a powerful chemical gains superhuman abilities when the chemical ends up in her body system.

Besson did confirm that while the script is done, he will be working on another female-driven project first before delving right into Lucy 2.

More as this develops.

H/T: Dark Horizons


Enter the Warrior’s Gate (2017)

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2016, EuropaCorp/Fundamental Films

Matthias Hoene
Luc Besson
Mark Gao
Luc Besson
Robert Mark Kamen
Maxime Alexandre
Audrey Simonaud

Mark Chao (Zhoo)
Ni Ni (Princess Su Lin)
Dave Bautista (Arun the Cruel)
Sienna Guillory (Annie Bronson)
Uriah Shelton (Jack Bronson)
Francis Ng (The Wizard)
Kara Hui (The Mountain Spirit)
Ron Smoorenburg (The Black Knight)
Zha Ka (Brutus)
Luke Mac Davis (Hector)
Dakota Dudley (Travis)

A video gamer enters a world he never imagined in this film from the writers of the Transporter franchise that combines action and fantasy with touches of comedy.

Jack Bronson is not having a great home life. With being bullied by a small extreme sports group led by Travis and his mother’s failing career in real estate has led to a foreclosure of their house. Jack’s only thing to make him calm, is gaming, where he plays as the Black Knight, a warrior in a game that involves him having to save a princess. When he is given the gift of a chest by store owner Mr. Chen, Jack is about to be part of something never he never imagined.

When a mysterious warrior named Zhoo, a bodyguard to Princess Su Lin, arrives from within the chest that night, Zhoo mistakes Jack for being the Black Knight, his video game character. When Zhoo learns the truth, he is unhappy but entrusts Jack to watch Su Lin. At first, Su Lin and Jack seem to get along well but when a group of Barbarians arrive to kidnap Su Lin and return to the chest, Jack follows them and ends up in ancient China. Zhoo informs Jack that Su Lin has been kidnapped and forced to marry the Barbarian leader, Arun the Cruel. Jack soon finds himself with Zhoo on the adventure of a lifetime. Will he be able to rescue the princess or will it be too late for the young gamer?

The collaborative duo of Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen have produced both really good films but at the same time, perhaps due to the pressures of distributions, very unnecessary sequels (Taken 2 and 3 and Transporter 3 anyone?) However, with both of their most-well known franchises becoming adapted into television series, it was time for something a little different. Perhaps the target for this film is for a younger audience as well as their Chinese audience. Nevertheless, this collaboration between Besson’s EuropaCorp and Mark Gao’s Fundamental Films is a mixed bag of goodies under the helming of Matthias Hoene, the director of the recent cult classic Cockneys vs. Zombies.

The film meshes gaming with elements of the 2008 film The Forbidden Kingdom, with its central theme of a young gamer who ends up in ancient China through a portal but unlike the 2008 film, it is more about teaching and learning cultures all within a story involving the rescue of a princess at the hands of a barbarian leader. What is interesting is that we are introduced to Ni Ni’s Princess Su Lin when she appears in the modern world, where she learns things are not as they seem. It’s a true case of culture shock, one in which she gladly takes in stride. As for Uriah Shelton’s Jack, he learns a thing or two about how kingdoms worked and learns to stand up for himself with few moves by lead Mark Chao, who plays the soldier Zhoo, who is so loyal and adds unintentional comic relief when he threatens the same brand of punishment for disobeying him or Su Lin.

While Dave Bautista’s Arun the Cruel is perceived as the deadly leader of the Barbarians who wants Su Lin as his bride so they can rule under his iron fist, Besson and Kamen wisely add a touch of comic relief showing a side no one would expect from this villainous character. However, when a messenger would inform Arun of something major happening, when Arun means one thing, his buffoonish henchman Brutus, played by Zha Ka, would kill the messenger. This would lead into some funny conversations between the ruler and his right hand man. Hong Kong acting veteran Francis Ng also brings a bit of comic relief as the Wizard, who is responsible for Jack getting into the entire adventure to start. Look out for martial arts legend Kara Hui, who recently retired from action films, in an extended cameo as the “Mountain Spirit” along with Ron Smoorenburg in the opening of the film as Jack’s avatar, the Black Knight.

Don’t expect anything spectacular from the action of the film. If you’ve seen many of the Chinese period action pieces, then you know what to expect. However, this does not discredit the film as a movie about a young man’s coming of age through a journey he never expected to even enter and how this adventure would change his life forever.

Enter the Warrior’s Gate is quite a fun adventure that is more geared towards a younger audience but still is quite a journey full of culture clashing and some comic relief in the vein of the villain and his henchman, and a coming of age tale for a young gamer who goes on the adventure of a lifetime.


EuropaCorp and Fundamental Films will be releasing this film on May 5 in select theaters as well as VOD and Digital HD.


TRAILER: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

The French comic Valerian and Laureline gets a live-action adaptation from the visionary mind of Luc Besson.

Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne star as the duo of space heroes in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Valerian and Laureline are special operatives for the government of the human territories charged with maintaining order throughout the universe. Valerian has more in mind than a professional relationship with his partner – blatantly chasing after her with propositions of romance. But his extensive history with women, and her traditional values, drive Laureline to continuously rebuff him. Under directive from their Commander, Valerian and Laureline embark on a mission to the breathtaking intergalactic city of Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis comprised of thousands of different species from all four corners of the universe. Alpha’s seventeen million inhabitants have converged over time – uniting their talents, technology and resources for the betterment of all. Unfortunately, not everyone on Alpha shares in these same objectives; in fact, unseen forces are at work, placing our race in great danger.

Clive Owen, Rihanna, John Goodman, Ethan Hawke, and Herbie Hancock co-star in the film, which was written and directed by Besson.

The film is set for a July 2017 release date by EuropaCorp.

H/T: Variety