- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Video Codec: VC-1
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit)
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, English Narrative, Spanish
- Region: A
- Rating: R
- Discs: 1
- Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: April 27th, 2010
- List Price: $29.98
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Five years ago, the film District B13 set the action genre abuzz with its blending of martial arts, social commentary, and the free-running sport parkour. It influenced the genre so much so that even James Bond felt its impact and, when Casino Royale finally hit the big screen, Daniel Craig’s 007 had an opening action sequence that consisted of an extended foot chase featuring the parkour techniques and some major hand-to-hand combat.
Now, five years later, Luc Besson (The Fifth Element; Léon) has penned a sequel to that film. Directed by Patrick Alessandrin, District 13: Ultimatum is once again set in the racially charged, high crime Paris ghetto. It’s five years after the previous film has ended and Elite police officer Damien Tomasso (Cyril Raffaelli) is working undercover to catch gangsters, as usual. His friend, reformed vigilante Leïto (David Belle) is still fighting against injustices in District 13, one of the walled off sections of the Paris ghetto.
Leïto is given a video recording that shows DISS agents shooting and killing police officers. The same officers later show up in District 13, and are taped being shot and killed by gang members in the District. Leïto realizes it is a setup, particularly when he receives a voicemail from his old friend Damien. Damien has been arrested on trumped-up drug charges and put in jail. Someone wants him out of the way.
The two have stumbled into a conspiracy to set public opinion against the residents of District 13 so that the case can be made for blowing up the entire area with nuclear missiles and certain government officials can benefit from a lucrative land development deal. It is now up to Damien and Leïto to unite the rival factions of District 13, stop the plan, and expose the government’s lies to the public.
District 13: Ultimatum is one of those rare sequels that is better than the original. It successfully recreates the energy of District B13, but puts together an even stronger film. It’s not that Ultimatum is great storytelling. On the contrary, Luc Besson’s script has his signature all over it — it is all style and pacing with not much exposition — but the plot holds together well. It makes more sense than the original and it doesn’t feel like a tired retread.
This is a splendid VC-1 encoding from Magnolia of D13-U. Finely textured, rich in detail and film-like throughout, the 1080p presentation is nearly flawless. There is extended shadow detail in dark scenes, blacks are deep, and the source looks spotless. Flesh tones sometimes look a bit washed out from a bit of blown out contrast, but that seems to be more of an artistic decision than anything to do with the encoding. This is a reference release through and through.
The French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack won’t disappoint action fans either. It offers a full-on aural assault anchored by the pulsating Techno soundtrack. All the kicks and punches land with heavy thuds and the surround channels are quite active straight through the film with discrete sound effects, ambience, and music. The only minor issue I had with the sound was that high frequencies in the music tended to sound a little “grungy,” but dialogue was clean and balanced and the whole mix came together well.
There are a decent amount of supplements offered up on D13-U, but just about everything except the HDNet piece and is in standard definition. Also, everything has a decidedly promotional feel to it, which is a definite turn off.
The supplements provided on this release are:
- Making of District 13: Ultimatum (1.78:1; 480i/60; 0:26.34) — Go behind-the-scenes with the filmmakers and stars of the film as they discuss their work on this action-packed sequel.
- Production Diary (1.78:1; 480i/60; 0:34.32) — The actors’ and filmmakers’ personal video diaries of the filming of District 13: Ultimatum.
- Music Video — Alonzo — “Déterminé” (1.78:1; 480i/60; 0:03.35)
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:09.22) — Played continuously.
- HDNet: A Look at District 13: Ultimatum (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:04.43)
- Also from Magnolia Home Entertainment Blu-ray (HD)
The Definitive Word
If you love action films, martial arts films, or anything by Luc Besson, then picking up District 13: Ultimatum is a no-brainer. The film effortlessly slides between Hong Kong cinema, La Femme Nikita, and parkour while the Blu-ray release is a reference quality effort from Magnolia.
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