Yamakasi (2001) Poster

(2001)

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5/10
Fails to realise the potential of Parkour
simon_booth23 January 2006
The YAMAKASI are a bunch of kids who practise what is variously known as Parkour and Free Running, a sort of sport/art/philosophy involving the development of skills for the traversal of urban environments in interesting ways (http://www.parkour.com/).

YAMAKASI the film is a Luc Besson production that basically provides a vehicle for 7 of these kids to show their stuff, in the pretence of helping a young kid who needs a heart transplant. It actually feels rather like a kids film, with larger than life characters (a bit of a keystone cops thing going on) and a message about being a bit rebellious but in a good way, or something.

The group are real life practitioners of Parkour, not professional actors - which kind of shows, though not in a particularly bad way - they're not wooden, but don't exactly express deep or complicated emotions.

Given that the film is basically a vehicle for Parkour, it's somewhat disappointing that not all that much of it is shown. There's some building scaling which is impressive but not particularly cinematic, then a bunch of antics where very little "free running" is shown - there are just a couple of scenes which show the potential the film could have had, towards the end. That potential has recently been realised much more dramatically in the film BANLIEUE 13, where one of the founders of Parkour is teamed up with martial artist Cyril Raffaelli for some truly original and sometimes incredible action sequences which show how Parkour could really be the foundation of a whole new action style. It's a shame that YAMAKASI, for whatever reason, didn't seem to know what to do with it. I'm hoping that the semi-sequel LES FILS DU VENT will put the group's talents to better use.
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what are you people complaining about ?!
meneer20 June 2002
I honestly don't understand why so many people complain about this movie. It doesn't take itself that seriously, so why should you?

A few examples you ask? To the people who have been b*tching in earlier comments, and to those who agree, here goes:

  • Wrong message/example? What the f*ck about Robin Hood? That story is regarded classic and rightly so, modern times - modern solutions...


  • Weak story/plot? True, true, but that is not what this movie is about. It's lighthearted and humorous. Look at it that way.


  • Threatening people with guns? Please, have you even watched the movie? They use a gun, which they obtained from someone who was shooting them, once and they're not aiming at a person.


I don't even wanna elaborate on everything else. Why not? I enjoyed the movie because of the fast pace, good soundtrack and the seemingly (try it yourself and find out!) easy stunts. Add the fact that only one of the seven main characters (Yann Hnautre) has ever played in more than one movie, they're not doing a bad job.

If you're looking for a fun way to spend 90 minutes, go see it, if you only expect to pay for good movies (hint: read some of the other comments for this movie), go and see it anyway. If you wanna nitpick about everything that does or doesn't occur in a movie, see it and go b*tch about it.
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7/10
Refreshing change from Hollywood style films
Sander Pilon6 August 2001
Yamakasi is a refreshing change from Hollywood style films. It's not Besson's masterpiece, the story is not THAT original, but the music, the cool "action" and the fresh style makes it a worthwhile experience.

The story itself is about 7 modern samurai, "yamakasi", that try to help a dying boy by stealing money from rich people in order to buy a donor-heart.

The action, although there isn't as much in it as the trailer would led you to believe, mostly consists of the yamakasi running away, climbing buildings, doing crazy jumps, and other stunts involving pedestrians.

Rating: 7/10
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2/10
Simply boring
rbruckner19 March 2007
Well, the movie is about some free running gang. So when i watched i didn't expect a great story, I just wanted to watch an entertaining action movie. At least - as i expected - the story wasn't great, sadly the action wasn't either. There are much cooler free running scenes with more spectacular stunts on the internet for free. And if you want to see some cool free running action within a real movie you should try Banlieue 13, it's nearly the same style but with more impressive and most notably more action scenes. So it's only 2/10 Stars, i didn't really enjoy it and it's got this one additional star, because there are quite worse movies :)
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Yamakasi a taint to parkour
tseepra15 October 2004
In the bright lighted side, we could see the yamakasis, these stuntmen of cities in the luc Besson movie. In the shadowed side, there is parkour, that is also called the art of movement, and that most of the public doesn't know about, and it is understandable: these spider-men's reputation grew, and other young people wanted to practice. David and Sébastien share their passion with anybody who wants to know. The news is spreading: from neighbour cities of noisy and sarcelles, young people move to evry to learn the parkour. The rumour works well, and the show 'notre dame de Paris' offers them to go on a tour, but David and sébastien refuse: a two years tour across France would cut them from their base, and above all they don't want to abandon the other young people who need their help. Then luc besson comes up with a script for yamakasi. They refuse that too. The scenario presents them as revolted boys from housing estates who trick the police and use their skills to steal. Seb explains: 'us, that we don't want, it's to prostitute our art' chilling incorruptible ones. For how long? Seven of the newcomers - including David's cousin give in the temptation and play in the movie. They separate from the group of evry, and rename themselves the yamakasis (strong man, strong spirit). Once famous, they claim to have invented the Parkour, betraying the true parkourists. David, Seb and the others (Stéphane Vigroux, Yoann Vigroux, Jérome ben Aoues, Rudy Duong, Kazuma and Michael Ramdami) rename themselves the 'traceurs'. Irritated by this story, they tell me that: 'to anyone who want to learn the art of parkour, it's welcome, but for the media events, we reserve us the right to choose: now we know who come to train when there's a TV near, and who's really got the passion'. We understand them.
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3/10
A boy needs a vital organ to live and can't afford it. A group of sportsmen decides to do whatever it takes to steal enough money for him.
jonduna15 August 2006
The movie had a good plot : what can we do to save a life without being an outlaw? In the movie, basically it's said that either you are rich and live or you are poor and you have to steal to survive. 2h of pursuit between the group of self-called "yamakasi" (the good ones who act illegally sometimes) and the police (the bad ones who act legally most of the time). The dichotomy is unfortunately not more subtle. The battle between the robbers and the police. Nothing new. I found that the major problem of that movie, or rather the main reason why I feel I've just wasted 2hours of my time, is that it raises more questions (not difficult ones...) than it gives answers - not in a philosophical attempt to make people think. When a hero saves a child, I like the hero to be likable, and the characters in the movie are complete jerks (the yamakasi and the police alike). The thing is although I have nothing against a movie which expose how our whole system is badly made and how stupid the police is, I find irritating when a group behaves violently and think they're cool (the movie is made so that the youth in France think well of the yamakasi characters although they act violently). More importantly maybe, they had the chance to offer a new look on Paris ghettos (the movie takes place in Paris, I'm from Paris myself and the characters are from the well-known little ghettos here) and it was just a lot of "clichés", so there again nothing new.

The movie could have been much more than what it simply is : an okay action movie. Don't expect anything else. Oh, as far as the movie as an art, there are a few enjoyable and well-filmed scenes, especially since the main actors are very good sportsmen and practice "parkour".
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3/10
Great stunts, terrible plot
giantgambianrat4 December 2003
I realise that the french are extremely anti-authoritarian, but this movie takes the cake. Not only are the cops ridiculous and racist, so are not only the politicians but also the doctors. ... doctors? While it is interesting to see the incredible divisions between genteel France and the immigrant 'cités', I see no reason to start bashing the Swiss. What the hell did they do to deserve such treatment? I'd like to point out that the sale of human organs is banned by the constitution (Art 119a) in Switzerland. Oh, and the movie is sexist too.

In conclusion, if you want to watch a ridiculous movie with a mixture of amusement, disgust and horror, go right ahead, but I suggest you watch it with the remote in hand and fast forward through all the scenes where no one is doing crazy acrobatics.
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Entertaining movie
xepaapex22 November 2003
Although I am not an arrogant french man, who "poo-poos" all movies except for "masterpieces" I do know entertaining cinema when I see it. Yamakasi is a very entertaining movie, written by Luc Besson (Fifth Element, Leon, The Transporter) The action sequences, stunts, and storyline are more than enough to keep the average movie buff happy. I enjoyed this movie quite a bit as I kept the mindset of an action movie. Don't go to action/adventure movies and expect "Lawrence of Arabia" or something as equally epic.

Very enjoyable
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7/10
stunts are amazing!
meetjopeblack31 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
There's nothing noteworthy about the story. Very thin plot--I even felt the story was forced just to have a film on the yamakasis. Plot/conflict is based on an incredible story of a boy needing a transplant because of an accident? Why? There could have been a better plot for the yamakasis since they are not really misfits and/or outlaws. They're just extreme sports lovers who are in it for the adrenalin rush.

Enough said about the plot. Yamakasi is basically about amazing stunts and maneuvers. They are breath taking! Yamakasi stunts defy gravity and inertia. True to it's subtitle, "Modern Samurais/Ninja" Who thought flying can be for men too!? For the stunts and (literal) flying... this film gets my thumbs up.
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Action is good, but terrible plot flaw spoils it!
icelandknight9 August 2004
The action was fun to see, the stunts were interesting, especially after reading that they were supposed to be real... but it's a movie not really made for thinking people, since there are terrible flaws in the plot that renders the whole process ridiculous and casts a shadow on the hero's self righteous deeds.

Why is everyone (audience included) expected to blame the doctor for the price of the new heart! The movie attempts to show it as his fault! Or the fault of his social class! That's rediculous. He is simply stating the market price of the donor heart. It's probably being sold on the black market anyway, since I believe there are laws against such organ trading. It's then up to those RESPONSIBLE (and involved) to come up with the cash, if they want the transaction to go through. He does not make up this price, he is simply stating how much the people have to pay. - Think about it. What would happen if every doctor was made (forced / coerced) to pay the bill for patients requiring treatment? The price he quotes is the price that must be payed by those RESPONSIBLE for the boy's condition. Among those responsible were the terrible building climbing role models the boy was imitating in the first place. Which is why they got involved, right?

Also, all this intimidation and threats made to others is very much against the, apparently very superficial, chivalrous code that these climbers are supposed to embrace. They are made to appear hypocrites and their eventual deeds lower them below the status of the lower class, to the status of thieves, extortionists, and criminals. Which, I believe the film was not intended to do. What great role models they became to save the boy! Do they still want him to grow up to be just like them? Apparently.

Still there were some good suspense parts, like when they were stuck in the house and had to escape from the roof. One was left wondering how they were going to pull that off. Hopefully they didn't give too many burglars ideas. We don't need any more of that, thanks.

Similar movies include: Robin Hood and the Pink Panther, although these are both much more heroic thieves than the Yamakasi. Perhaps Kamakasi would have been a better name, given the film's great number of negative reviews.
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8/10
Cool Free Running, Very Luc Besson
mikka-425 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A group of Parisian free runners who follow a samurai type ethic, need to raise 400,000 francs, to arrange for a heart to be transported from a private company in Switzerland to Paris to save a boys life. They decide to steal from the 7 directors of the company because they will end up giving the money back to them for the heart anyways.

So begins a frantic 6 and a half hour stealing spree, where they manage to steal 172,500 in cash and fence stolen items to make up the rest. They get caught but lucky for them, a friend of theirs is a police inspector, who backs up their story and they get released due to lack of evidence.

Free running tricks and aerobatics are exceptional. Well worth a look
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Great adrenalin rush, but not a great plot.
juliana_w11 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I managed to catch this in Singapore during the screening of films during the French film festival for $7. And I'm glad I got it for cheaper then as compared to the horrible $8.50 if you catch it on weekends, though the next time I watched it for free...that was the closest I thought it was worth watching for.

This movie had the basic elements of any plot, but it seemed weak as in, there was no bang to any part of the plot. No twist, nothing. And though in the end, all they managed to auction the stolen goods for was, $38,500. Somehow they managed to claim it as, $60,000. Geez. You're like "Where'd that come from?"

I liked the opening shots but there was one shot that completely irritated me. The discontinuity car shot with the Inspector talking to his cousin, Sitting Bull. It started to rain, but only the windows on Sitting Bull's side were wet with rain droplets and the Inspector's side of the window was completely dry. I mean, hello? This is Luc Besson's work? I'm appalled.

Well, you can't win them all. But just because you made a couple of great movies for the consumer, you can afford to slack on the rest. We do pay money to watch a good movie, not for a great name.

I'd recommend this for an adrenalin rush, but don't expect too much from the story.
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10/10
AWESOME MOVIE!!! A MUST SEE!!!
noel_bg27 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is just great! I don't know what you cannot like in it. After all, it was shot with non-professional actors, so keeping that in mind, this movie deserves its 10 out of 10. It is an action movie, and if you want to see some deep meaning in an action movie, you'd better wake up, cause action movies are to be watched, not contemplated upon. Yet, as a European movie, and especially as being a Luc Beson one, it stands out among its American fellow movies, and lacks the logical loops and stupid punchlines.

Basically, YAMAKASI is THE MATRIX and SPIDERMAN but without the assistance of a thousand computer graphics designers. The YAMAKASI are a bunch of guys in Paris who walk anywhere but on the ground and are darn good at it. They climb the facades of 16-story buildings without a single rope or tool, they jump from roof to roof and defy gravity. (MINOR SPOILER AHEAD) The police wants to get them, because they are causing disturbance in the neighborhood, but of course they can't. An accident makes the Yamakasi stand against corruption and inequality and use their skills to retrieve a large amount of money for a negative period of time. Followed by an hour of endless chases, jumping, climbing, and that bitter-sweet taste of humour that only french action movies like TAXI can possess.

NOW the spicy stuff: YAMAKASI is based on real-living characters and events. The all-climbing, all-jumping Yamakasi DO exist, and they are in Paris. Luc Beson got so inspired by this, that not only he wrote and produced the movie, but he also invited the real Yamakasi to play themselves. Most of the stunts have never seen the editing room. The movie is as close to reality as a feature movie will ever get. Any drawbacks (which are too small to notice anyway) are to be credited to the fact that the actors are not professionals, and they just play themselves.

Overal: 10/10. WONDERFUL!
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Cool Movie
TurbDaMan200017 January 2004
Although i do not understand French, this movie has the ability to show that performing crazy stunts CAN be done without the use of Special effects and computer animations. This movie makes SPIDER-MAN and the MATRIX look realistic and without the millions of dollars used to actually make the visual effects.

Rating 10/10
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Good entertainment
robb_774 April 2003
Statement andrew Jakobs,Holland:

"Well the ending really sucked. It didn't leave me with good feeling, Hmmm cop pointing gun at the doctor (who only drew the gun because he was being threathed by the gang, And I think he was in his right),"

I offer a quite different opinion:

The doctor was a arrogant,self-centred imbecile(high class), who had no regard for other peoples life than his own kind. He deserved to be reminded that all life is sacred regardless of race & class. And the cop quit his job in protest of a system that represses the weak in society. So the ending gave us a piece of moral justice, which sometimes is better than what the law can offer.

All in all the movie is good entertainment,nothing more or less.......
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6/10
Not so Bad Action Showcase
paaskynen12 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Many of my fellow commentators who were overly critical of Yamakasi miss the point of the film (and in some cases some important details of the plot). The motivation behind this film was to showcase free running/parkour as a new action style Besson had already used similar stunts in Taxi 2 and later developed the idea into the quite palatable action flick Banlieue 13 (District 13B). The story of the film is merely a framework around which the stunt sequences could be moulded. However, it is important to understand some plot points: - The French Police do, unfortunately, have a reputation for being racist. - Parkour is a sub-culture born in the poor suburbs, so the runners are likely to have negative feelings towards the authorities. If they had been depicted as goodie-two-shoes, the story would be unrealistic and the rebellious free runners most likely would not have participated. - French society is elitist and arrogance of the ones on top towards those at the bottom is not unheard of. - The little boy had a heart condition and the exertion of climbing the tree caused a cardiac crisis that made a transplantation the only option to save him. - Trade in human organs is highly illegal in Europe, the doctor is suspect for suggesting it (using these channels could cost him his job, so probably he will get a fat commission out of the deal, or he wouldn't risk it). His callous behaviour brands him as one of the bad guys. - The people robbed by the yamakasi run the illegal organ trade behind the facade of a charity, so basically the yamakasi are stealing from the criminals, so that they can pay them for the illegal donor heart. Thus, in their view, nobody loses except they themselves for risking arrest. - Non Hollywood films often do not explain the blatantly obvious.
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7/10
Athetics with a spirit
arx0027 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This is a great parkour film where the scenario is based upon the criticism of health industry and how poor athletic youth try to save a kid's life by burglarizing rich executives who make money legally but unethically. In the process there is fantastic parkouring.

I'm amazed that people who would watch the Ocean's series with pleasure rant about the well-intentional burglaries here. I guess stealing from a casino is cool when film stars do the stealing to live in luxury but when it is poor young men saving a life then it's a no. To me this suggests many reviewers of this film are unable to think for themselves.
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Here's a story about globalization...
Sinogirl8 April 2002
I saw this movie in Hong Kong in October 2001 DUBBED by a famous (the only one in Hong Kong???) local Cantonese hip-hop collective called LMF (Lazy Muthaf*ckas) in Cantonese and I have never laughed so hard in my life. It was a brilliant move on the part of the distributers to wide-release it with an entirely redone script and was extremely popular for weeks. There were brilliant rhyme sequences on the part of the ensemble that could only be replicated in Cantonese. They also had a dubbed Mandarin version out in theatres but I don't think it could've measured up at all. My friend and I were curious to see how it was in French, and it sounds like it was really crap. Occasionally French films get wide release in Hong Kong, like The Crimson Rivers (Les rivières pourpres), but it's very badly dubbed in English and people are quite used to seeing subtitles at the bottom of the screen as it is. The dubbing for Yamakasi made a so-so movie into one of the must-sees that year, definitely the best comedy I saw all year.
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2/10
Target : dumbs
jean-no23 April 2003
The non-french-speaking people maybe didn't notice how bad the actors are. That's a first bad point. The morality is rather stupid : the "powerful" (doctors, politics) are bad, and rich enough to allow anyone to rob them, robbing is a crime but not when you really need the cash now and when you think the people you rob have too much money. Great. Nobody thought about asking why a boy who felt from a small tree should have a heart transplant in the next twelve hours... It was the main question for me, but the characters are here naive, they are of the kind who think that a surgeon finds medical solutions when he has a gun pointing his head. It's a story like the ones kids create in the school yard mixed with money frustrations of the grown-up : it targets dummies, and this is not funny, because people with that lack of morality and ability to think do exist in parisian suburbs, those might need better movies than this stupid mirror of their state of mind. I'll save maybe two minutes of the entire picture (the acrobatic missed suicide for instance), the rest can move to the trash.
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Propagandistic junk
ersbel1 June 2012
In the wonderful world of the well fed children who have nothing to fear but taxes when it comes to having to deal with the state there grows the fairy tale of the Yamakasi. It's fake. It lacks imagination unless for the idea of the tall building climbers. But that thing is going to be done far better in New Police Story three years later.

Probably the worse thing in this production is the scenario and the political goals. In a world where young people of low qualification and of foreign descent hardly gets any employment, in a world where most young people of that region can't find steady jobs even with good genes and an education, well, all the Yamakasi are employed if they don't have anything better to do. In this fantasy dimension the police knows them, wants them, yet they can't get them at home as they do in real life France.

And if the prototype of the idiot is the cop in most bad taste jokes, the maghrebin cop has no contact with the outside world. He's precisely the virgin who's trying, hard, to run a brothel.

Really, if there wasn't the purpose of propaganda nobody would have produced such junk. But, hey, the whole nation can see the darkies have it all: a fair chance for transplant, friendly police and jobs to choose from. It's only their evil nature that stands in the ways of friendship between the white majority and the others. And to keep things simple for the target audience to be able to follow the simple ideas they are fed all the targets live in the area of the same police district and the same cops are on duty on each event.

Myself, I'm disgusted.

Contact me with Questions, Comments or Suggestions ryitfork @ bitmail.ch
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6/10
Very entertaining, although not very good
jluis19844 January 2006
Let me start this saying that I consider Luc Besson a very creative person. Probably he is not the best writer, he may not even be a good one, but he always comes up with the most original ideas in his scripts. And I admire him for that.

With that said, I must said that I had mixed feelings when I was watching "Yamakasi"; for one part, I was so amazed by the complex stunts and the beautiful action scenes shot in an old school way, everything beautifully choreographed, but, on the other hand, the dramatic scenes and the plot were so weak that I wonder how a script written by three people could be so plain and undeveloped.

The core plot is very simple, the Yamaksi are a gang of 7 guys whose love for adrenaline has taken them to create the extreme sport of climbing buildings as mountains and practically defy gravity in their acrobatic adventures; one day a kid tries to imitate them, but his heart condition makes him faint and suddenly he needs a heart transplant. The problem is, that the organ can only be get by illegal ways, so it will cost a lot of money that his family can't pay. The Yamakasi, feeling guilty, decide to steal from the rich to gather the sum needed for the transplant. they only have 6 hours to get the money and they will use all of their skills to make it.

The problem with the plot, is that it is all we get, it is just a mere excuse to show the Yamakasi skills and to make fun of the French police. I must say again that I was impressed by the amazing stunts, but I would have liked something to identify with the characters.

The script's problem is not the story, as many people believe, because I found it very original. In my opinion, the problem with the movie is that we have very few development of the 7 heroes, we barely know them so it is very hard to feel empathy towards them. The Yamakasi end up as 2-dimensional heroes with very limited motivations. It would be great if at least 10 minutes of the movie had been spent in getting to know them, but the only thing we know is their nickname and their "ability".

That would be my only complain, because it seriously hurt the film. As result of the undeveloped characters, there is very few the actors can do. Nevertheless, Maher Kamoun did a remarkable job, although it is probably because his character, Vincent, is the only one who gets a complete development; as a police officer who is a cousin of one of the Yamakasi, he has to struggle between his responsibility as officer and his responsibility with his family.

Something that is also worth noticing, is that our 7 (9 if we count Vincent and their friend Michelin) heroes show a lot of ethnic diversity that reflects the society in modern day France. To have a team of Arabs, Africans and French as heroes was something way different from what we are used to see.

In the end, "Yamakasi - Les Samouraïs des Temps Modernes" is an average but entertaining film that, while certainly could have been a lot better, at least supplies good entertainment with a big dose of adrenaline. 6/10
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2/10
Bad, bad, bad..
mihakovac31 December 2004
OK, so I'm a fan of Luc Besson.

So when his name popped up in my TV guide, I was trilled. I got my popcorn ready, reserved the best seat in the house and had a VHS tape ready to record the movie. I was set to go.

Then is started.

Started quite good, I had a good feeling, but then it just got worse. And for worse, I mean, it sucked. I stopped the tape 20 min into the movie. I stopped watching about 1h into the movie. I just couldn't handle it anymore.

The whole story, the acting, the dialog was so amazingly stupid, unrealistic and on a 10 year old level, I was really surprised (and worried as well) that Besson had ANYTHING to do with it. Without a doubt, I could make a better movie. Anyone could.

I'll give it a 2 out of 10, just cos.. I don't know really. Deserves a 1 anyhow. One of the worse I've seen for a long time.
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3/10
Too many stunts, not enough plot.
elver1220 June 2002
It's like with any other French action movie - too many stunts, not enough plot. Well, there is a plot. But it's surreal, uninteresting and boring. If you are bored and got nothing better to do, even then dont watch this movie. You will be bored to death about 3/4 through.
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9/10
Somebody are Jumping Somewhere
guney-sadik10 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Somebody are jumping somewhere,climbing trees and all kind of things, running somewhere,escaping from somebody,rubbing somewhere,helping somebody and something like that.If you saw something like what ı tell you can be sure it's Yamakasi.The film of young men who want to just enjoy.when ı was at primary school a lot of friends of mine were talking about this film every school day.We were playing Yamakasi like the little child who has got medical problems about his heart.And those days were really good for us.So Yamakasi was a legend for me and my friends.Frenchs can make good films.And this is a good exaple.Everybody should watch this film.
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10/10
X-Treme!
Angel14037 July 2003
WOW! This film is really cool. The moves are pretty amazing, the actors were sweet, considering it was their first time and that they had no previous acting record. Only the plot was not that fantastic, but overall, it is refreshing and definitely a great action movie!
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