In the near future, the worst ghettos (banlieues
) of Paris are literally walled off. Banlieue 13, one of the worst of them, is run by the ruthless crime lord Taha. After Leito, the hero of the story, steals and destroys a shipment of Taha's drugs, Taha retaliates by kidnapping Leito's sister Lola. Leito rescues her, but is arrested by corrupt cops, leaving his sister in Taha's clutches.
Six months later, an undercover supercop named Damien is given an urgent mission: Taha has stolen a Neutron Bomb
which has an automatic timer function engaged and set to detonate in less than 24 hours. Now with time running out, Damien and Leito must work together to find and stop the bomb, but there's far more to this crisis than either of them know.
Features David Belle showcasing Le Parkour
back before it was very well known in the English-speaking world. Dubbed into English as District 13
or District B13
. A sequel, Banlieue 13: Ultimatum
was released in 2009.
The first movie provides examples of:
- Bad Boss: Taha.
- Badass: Most of the characters.
- Boxed Crook: Leito. Although he has his own motives to help the police.
- Bullfight Boss: Yeti
- Car Cushion: One of the baddies lands on one in the first major chase scene.
- Chained Heat: Damien pretends to be a crook to get in with Leito, who works it out straight away and leaves him handcuffed to a steering wheel.
- Chick Magnet: There are only three female characters across the two films that really have any role to speak of. Of those, two unashamedly hit on Damien and the third's his girlfriend.
- Damsel in Distress
- The Dragon: K2.
- The Dog Bites Back: Taha's mooks.
- Engineered Public Confession
- "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Taha, to his own thugs:
You are all a bunch of useless dipshits.
- Gay Paree
- Giant Mook: Yeti.
- Go-Go Enslavement: Lola.
- Government Conspiracy: the theft of the bomb was engineered by the government to wipe out the slums.
- Groin Attack
- Neutron Bomb
- Improvised Weapon: several, but a detached steering wheel deserves a mention.
- I Want Them Alive: cause of the opening Chase Scene.
- Klingon Promotion: An unusually democratic example, when after one too many impromptu executions and the loss of all his operating funds, the assembled mooks gun down Taha and immediately recognise K2 as their new leader.
- Le Parkour: David Belle, one of the founders of parkour, plays the hero. He shows off his skills.
- Les Cops Sportif: A rare literal example in Damien.
- Our Presidents Are Different: President Evil.
- Thirteen Is Unlucky
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: Man, the world is really fucked up in... 2010? But... actually, that's about right.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: It's entirely possible David Belle spends less time wearing a shirt than not. Becomes unintentionally hysterical.
- Wire Dilemma: the code for the bomb.
- With My Hands Tied
- You Have Failed Me: Taha, repeatedly. Deconstructed when as soon as it's revealed that he's lost all his money, his mooks turn on him.
The sequel provides examples of;
- Air Vent Passageway: Out of a prison.
- Black Helicopter
- Bland Name Product: A defence contractor called "Harriburton". Subtle.
- Braids of Action Tao’s knee-length ponytail has a blade fastened into it which she uses as an Epic Flail.
- Brass Balls: One gangster informs the victim of a Groin Attack that it wouldn’t have hurt him; "mine are like concrete".
- Briefcase Full of Money
- Broken Aesop: The ending of the sequel contains one of the most broken aesops ever seen: After having foiled the villain's plan to blow up Banlieue 13 in order to have it replaced by a rich suburb, and exposed his orchestration of the civil violence leading to that decision, the leaders of all five stereotypical ethnic gangs (Black rastafarians who look like rejects from the Lord's Resistance Army, robe-clad bearded arabs, Trigger Happy portuguese used car salesmen, tattoed asian martial artists and white neo-nazi skinheads) give the French President an "inspirational" speech on how they're like a family that protects, unites and brings people together! Keep in mind that they all voluntarily racially segregate themselves into different blocks and have only united to fight a common enemy. But wait, it gets worse: they then decide that it would be better to rebuild Banlieue 13 from scratch and proceed to go along with the villain's plan and blow it up anyway!
- Well, to be fair, early on it was mentioned that if the Big Bad had gotten his way, D13 would've been replaced by middle-upper class housing, displacing all the poor into the other districts. What Leito's posse were probably getting at was replacing it with new low-income housing and better urban planning... assuming 5 walking stereotypes, a kung fu cop, and a free-runner were able to get that point across.
- By-the-Book Cop: Invoked, but not necessarily achieved; Damien says that “the civil code is my bible”, but if so he seems to be more interested in the spirit of the rules than the letter of them...
- Car Cushion: Damien’s Super Window Jump.
- Cardboard Prison
- The Dragon Roland
- Enemy Mine: All the rival gangs decide to team up to stop the destruction of B13.
- Escalating War: Between the gangs and police
- Faceless Mooks: The DISS goons
- Firing in the Air a Lot: In the opening pan across the anarchy that is B13
- Gang of Hats: Several of these team up, including Generic Ethnic Crime Gangs of Africans, Arabs and Chinese, a gang of skinheads and a gang of gun-runners. The heads of these form a Five-Token Band with Leito for the final showdown.
- General Ripper: The Big Bad
- Get Into Jail Free: Leito, to free Damien
- Harmless Lady Disguise: Damien disguises himself as a stripper.
- Humiliation Conga: The Dragon is literally brought to his knees via a Groin Attack from Damien and is humiliated by each of the Gang Bosses as they pass by him. The Big Bad is disarmed by the heroes when he tries to use the President as a hostage and then receives a beatdown from each of the Gang Bosses before being rolled up in a rug.
- Information Wants to Be Free
- Introdump: The gang parlay.
- Knowledge Broker: Tao
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Roland suggests this, but Damien points out that you don’t get to decide when "the rules" apply and when they don’t.
- Let's You and Him Fight: The Big Bad's plan is to incite a war between the gangs and the police in order to justify clearing them out.
- Machete Mayhem: We’re told this is Molko’s Weapon of Choice, but he never seems to use one.
- Mook Chivalry
- Nipple and Dimed: Tao’s outfit involves a see-through top and some well-placed "pasties".
- Our Presidents Are Different: A nice-but-ineffectual mixture of President Personable and President Focus Group, he spends most of his time flip-flopping over whether to go along with the Evil Chancellor's scheme or not.
- She-Fu / Waif-Fu: Tao, involving the most extreme example of a Tomboyish Ponytail ever; see Braids of Action.
- State Sec: The DISS
- Use Your Head: Skinhead Karl, who can "destroy cars with his head".