2 In 1: Wasabi And District B13.

I haven't done a 2 In 1 in a while, and I figured since I had two movies that could be themed together, I might as well. Both of these films are written by one of my favorite writer/director/producers, Luc Besson. The first is an action/comedy, while the second gets more into the action/dystopian scene. So let's get into it, shall we?


The tagline for this movie really says it all: "Quite Possibly The Greatest French-Language, English-Subtitled, Japanese Action-Comedy Of All Time." Luc Besson likes to mix and match cultures in the films he's involved with. And this one is the epitome of that. Wasabi is about Hubert (Jean Reno), a cop who uses unorthodox and illegal moves on the criminals he's after, mostly due to his history with special services. But he's also stuck in the past, having 19 years ago fallen in love with a Japanese woman who mysteriously left him 8 months later. After being suspended from his police position for 2 months for accidentally assaulting the chief's son, Hubert receives a call from Japan stating that his old lady-friend is dead, and has left him as sole recipiant of everything in the will. But he also discovers something else--he has a daughter, 19-going-on-20-year-old Yumi (Ryoko Hirosue). Noticing that Yumi's mother's death is more than it seems, Hubert teams up with his old partner Momo (Michel Muller) to figure out what happened... all while trying to keep the fact that he's her father away from Yumi, who is under the impression her mother had been raped and abandoned and wants nothing more than to see her father dead.

This movie is very entertaining. It's not as serious and in-depth as Leon, but it's not as plotless and action-packed as The Transporter. Its tone is probably somewhere around Lethal Weapon (not a Besson film, of course, but as close of a comparison as I can make). The story is a good one, and it keeps you questioning what's going on. And I actually did laugh out loud once or twice (like Lethal Weapon, it's not all 'ha ha' funny, but 'amusing' funny, if that makes sense). Though seeing Jean Reno try to play Dance Dance Revolution is awfully 'amusing'. I also liked a particularly liked a scene where Momo is trying to show Hubert a bunch of weapons, while Yumi comes in and out of the room for a 'fashion show', so they keep having to hide everything when she steps from the room with a new outfit.

The action is interspersed throughout the film, so it's not one thing after the other. Though when there is action, it is somewhat reminiscent of the over-the-top fun type that you might see in The Transporter, which was coincidentally made a year later. Notably is the 'fight' in the shopping center while trying to stay inconspicuous to Yumi, as well as the 'golf' fight later on.

The acting is well done. It was fun seeing Jean Reno in a action/comedy role. And Michel Muller as Momo stole the show as the dopey/excitable sidekick, having most of the comedy once in Japan. Then there's Yumi, who I can't say how good or bad of an actress she is, because I was too busy seeing how hot she was anytime she was on screen. Seriously, though, she played the stereotypical Japanese teen girl well.

If I had any complaint, it would be the things that Hubert was left in the will. Hubert keeps saying how everything in the box was a clue to solving the mystery, and that would have been a really cool concept to go with. But only two of the things ever came into play. I think if they were going to say the box of items were all clues, they should have made them all clues instead of just picking two of the things. Also, they broke the Chekov's Gun rule... which is a tough thing to do. I'm mostly just upset about this because I wanted to see a bazooka or heat seeking missiles fired or something. But they introduce all these cool weapons (during the aforementioned 'fashion show' scene), but only use one of the guns and a grenade (for no real reason other than to use a grenade). And the action of the climax scene could have been played out a just a little more (I thought it was a bit too short).

But otherwise, this was a fun movie. If you're a fan of Luc Besson or Jean Reno, or you like a good action/comedy, check this out. It's pretty entertaining.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

District B13.

Also known as Parkour: The Movie. For those who don't know, Parkour (sometimes referred to, though--as I've heard--incorrectly, as Free Running) is a new-age sport... movement... thing where you run/climb/jump wherever the heck you want. It makes you look like a ninja.

Anyway, this movie takes place in the distant future of 2010 where the ghettos of Paris have been fenced off for safety reasons. The most dangerous of these ghettos is District B13. Born and raised in this ghetto is Leito (David Belle, creator of Parkour) and his sister Lola (Dany Verissimo, beauty incarnate). Leito gets caught up with drug and gang lord, and basic overseer of all of District B13, Taha (Bibi Naceri), and his right-hand lacky K2 (Tony D'Amario). But when Leito gets screwed over, Lola ends up in Taha's hands, and Leito ends up in prison. Enter all-around supercop, Captain Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli). Damien is hired to enter B13, as Taha has also gotten his hands on a bomb that will blow up most of the city, and he needs to input the code to deactivate it... with only a few hours to do so. So Damien gets teamed up with Leito, who knows the lay of the land and the rules of the trade like the back of his hand. And they must work together--for better or worse--if they're going to get through this alive, deactivate the bomb, and save Lola.

The story isn't deep or anything, so don't come in expecting a masterpiece of storytelling. I also can't really comment on the acting job, either, because the subtitles for this film were ridiculous. Rarely has it been this difficult to watch a foreign film in its original language. They spoke so fast, that sometimes I didn't even finish reading the subtitle before it moved on to the next one. I now sympathize with those who had to watch Gilmore Girls closed captioned. As such, my eyes were on the bottom of the screen for the majority of any dialogue-fueled scene. But again, as the story isn't super deep or anything, it's not like I was really missing much.

The reason to see this movie is for the action. The movie was directed by Pierre Morel, the same guy who directed the recent Liam Neeson flick Taken, and also did the cinematography for such films as The Transporter and Unleashed. In other words, he's no newbie to action films (well, I suppose he could have been at the time, since this came out in 2004, and the only one of those films he had under his belt was The Transporter. Unleashed came out the following year, and Taken, 5 years later. But I digress). The action is superb, dare I say better than even The Transporter. Everything is based around Parkour, with a mix of martial arts flair. So it's kinda like watching a super-gymnast ninja... and a bit of Jason Statham. It's very fluid, fast, and stylish, yet simultaneously hard hitting and rough. It's pure candy for the eyes and adrenaline-fueled mind.

Really, outside the action, there's nothing to talk about with this movie. It moves fast and doesn't even feel like an hour and a half (or a little less than that, really). The only real thing that bugged me (outside the insane subtitles) was Lola's actions near the end of the movie. They really made no sense outside the realm of "hey, let's add more suspense to this scene." But hey, it gave more excuses to show her... which was nice (hell, even Luc Besson wrote the role specifically for her to be in this movie). But on the level of "I just want to see some awesome action," this movie is pretty high up there. So if that's what you're in the mood for, definitely check this out. I would have given it a higher score, but the action and good visuals are really all the movie has going for it. Will I buy it? Probably not. Would I watch it again if I saw it on TV or something? Most definitely.

I Am McLovin!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.