You'll hear it here first, since nobody else bothered to highlight this to the man on the street. District 13 - Ultimatum suffers from what the dubbing disease, and it's not just the Hong Kong films that aren't given the respect they deserve, to have its language tracked dubbed over by another language. For some inexplicable reason, we got the piss poor English dubbed version of the film, which means that the mouths don't sync with the words being spoken.
It's irritating to say the least, because it's in-your-face distracting. Worse, the voices of the dubbers lack enthusiasm, and everyone sounds like everyone else (no budget to get one dubber for each actor?) droning on and on that you'll likely find the insipid plot dabbling with corruption from government forces and private enterprises a tad of a turn off, if not for the nicely designed action sequences to redeem some of the contrived acting and storyline in the film. Yes some may argue that a film like this should be focused on the action and not what's said, but the overall experience is nonetheless irrevocably marred.
Picking off directly where we last left off with Captain Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli), Leito (David Belle) and Leito's sister Lola (being forgotten in this sequel) parted ways to jog your memory on who the top dogs are, the opening few minutes brings us up to speed where Damien and Leito are in their lives. We get a special effects laden camerawork zooming in and out of a digitized city during the opening credits, before ample time's taken to show Leito still being the pain in the behind for the police with his District 13 antics, while Damien continues in building up his reputation as the go-to man for police stings, having single-handedly (ok, with fists and kicks) bring down an entire vice operations.
Which provides for plenty of action in the film as Damien fights his way out of a trapped club, and probably one of the longest action sequences with hard-hitting action involving the playful maneuver of a Van Gogh piece. Fans of Parkour though will have to wait a little longer for David Belle's Leito to strut his stuff, and the co-founder of Parkour doesn't fail to impress, especially with his one man escape from the cops atop rooftops, which warrant this particular segment a second watch as it's likely to serve as inspiration to all Parkour practitioners.
Other than that the plot forces our dynamic duo to cooperate once more as they take on corrupt internal security who has been stringing the French President along with their naughty plan of creating havoc between the cops and the denizens of District 13, now with five different ethnic groups trying to fill a power vacuum created from the previous film, and Luc Besson tries hard to make it something of a political thriller as well, which director Patrick Alessandrin tended to shelve aside and include only as a necessary filler in between action sequences, which get larger and louder, only for the climax to falter with too many cooks spoiling the broth.
To be honest i wasn't that impressed with the first film other than to witness Parkour in action, and this film continues with that impression. As I mentioned, the damage was done with the lines that were spoken, and I'd imagine whether it was Besson's responsibility for some of the corniest lines ever uttered in cinema, or was that the result of not treating the source material with respect, and hiring all the wrong guys from translating to delivering that ultimately proved to be the real letdown. If given a chance I'll watch this again, with the proper language track thank you very much.