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Blu-ray 13


My copy of the Blu-ray release of Luc Besson’s District B13 (Banlieue 13 in its native France) arrived today from This is one of my few high definition blind buys so far, and I’m glad I picked it up, because, while it’s hardly a masterpiece, it really is very entertaining stuff - the sort of fast, fun, unpretentious action film Hollywood wishes it could make but can’t. I continue to be impressed with the way that Besson manages to take a Hollywoodish sense of entertainment and distil it into something decidedly European. This isn’t quite as good as the earlier Unleashed, which had more appealing characters, or Léon, which remains my favourite Besson film and the closest I’ve ever seen to an action film that is a genuine masterpiece, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and, at 84 minutes, it’s about as unbloated as you can get.

Magnolia Home Entertainment’s transfer, meanwhile, is another matter. It’s an MPEG2 encode, and the source seems to have been a 1080i master. Like Lethal Weapon, Full Metal Jacket and a handful of other Warner releases, it’s “bobbed”, resulting in jagged diagonal lines and some noticeable moiré. There’s also a fair amount of edge enhancement on display, and the level of detail is decidedly inconsistent. Some shots are razor-sharp, others look like upconverted standard definition. It’s nice to see one of the smaller players getting involved with HD, but I hope they’re able to step up their game, because transfers like this go some way towards negating the whole point of a format that’s supposed to be all about delivering optimal image quality in the first place.

Of course, the less said about the cover art, the better.

Posted: Thursday, March 01, 2007 at 8:08 PM | Comments: 9
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | Technology



As far as I know, Luc Besson didn't direct UNLEASHED or DISTRICT 13. Right?

He did direct LEON.

Posted by: Marcus, March 2, 2007 12:30 AM


No, but he did write and produce them, and a certain “style” that he has cultivated is all over them. I would certainly class them as “Luc Besson films” before calling them Louis Leterrier or Pierre Morel films.

Posted by: Whiggles, March 2, 2007 12:37 AM


" I would certainly class them as "Luc Besson films" before calling them Louis Leterrier or Pierre Morel films."
Sorry but this is so wrong.

Posted by: ARCVILE, March 2, 2007 4:48 PM


In what way? When you look at Unleashed or The Transporter, do you see stylistic elements that clearly distinguish them from District B13 as the work of a completely different filmmaker? I’m not convinced that Leterrier or Morel are functioning as filmmakers in a strictly creative sense, but rather as conduits. Just as Jerry Bruckheimer tends to be the biggest name in the films he produces, I think the same is true for Besson. Watching films like the ones I listed above, you can definitely see a similar sensibility to that of the likes of Léon.

Posted by: Whiggles, March 2, 2007 4:54 PM


Apart from the fact that all three are action films produced by Besson, I dont see that much of similarities in style or narrative. I truely think every director had their say and visions in it. If not... then I'm really sorry for them.

As for Jerry Bruckheimer, he's the anti-christ... apart from wanting to make a big pay check, I dont see why anyone would work for him. Same can be said about Michael Bay... now wait a minute, Bay is even worse!!

Posted by: ARCVILE, March 2, 2007 7:48 PM


Virtually all of the Besson-produced films I’ve seen take place in a near-future or a bizarre version of the present in which organised (or disorganised, as the case may be) crime is extremely pronounced in urban society, into which the protagonist, an idealistic man, is drawn against his will and forced to make a living in this world of crime. A fairly broad description, admittedly, but I do think that there’s a common thread to these films, and stylistically they all strike me as being very similar, with their dingy concrete “jungles” and hordes of faceless thugs (usually led by an eccentric gang lord) performing improvised martial arts. I’m not saying the directors in question didn’t have their say, but I think Besson’s influence dominates the films.

As for Bruckheimer, Antichrist or not, I think he’s a valid point of comparison, in that, like Besson, he is incredibly prominent as a producer in the marketing and making of his films. Incidentally, I once saw an interview with Bruckheimer in which he implied that, on films he produces, the job of the director is basically done once photography has been completed, with them having little if any control over editing and post production.

Posted by: Whiggles, March 2, 2007 8:28 PM


But do you consider DAWN OF THE DEAD, THE CHURCH, DEMONS, DEMONS 2, THE SECT, and THE WAX MASK "Dario Argento films"?

After all, they do follow Argento's "style", not to mention some of them were written by the man as well.

Posted by: Marcus, March 4, 2007 7:43 PM


Sort of, I suppose. Argento certainly would, even if I don’t. ;)

Posted by: Whiggles, March 4, 2007 10:28 PM


"But do you consider DAWN OF THE DEAD, THE CHURCH, DEMONS, DEMONS 2, THE SECT, and THE WAX MASK "Dario Argento films"?

After all, they do follow Argento's "style", not to mention some of them were written by the man as well."

I dont. I think all of them (apart from DAWN) are pale to the work of Argento but then again when DEMONS, THE SECT and others were made Argento only made one good movie, OPERA.

The producers certainly heavily "influenced" the directors which is a shame really.

Posted by: ARCVILE, March 5, 2007 7:45 PM

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