Synopsis by Mark Deming
The Yamakasi are a real-life group of French daredevils who can scramble up the side of tall buildings and other urban structures as easily as most people can climb a flight of stairs; filmmaker Luc Besson saw a television report on the Yamakasi and was so impressed that he wrote and produced this project as a vehicle for putting their unusual talents onscreen. A nine-year-old boy named Jamel (Nassim Faid) has a weak heart, and after he tries to climb a tree with his friends, he has an attack and his parents are told he'll need a heart transplant within a few days or else the boy will die. The operation will cost over 400,000 francs, money the boy's parents don't have, but the Heart Transplant Corporation, the company who can provide the boy with a fresh heart, are not willing to negotiate on the price. When the Yamakasi hear about Jamel's plight, they swing into action, planning a daring raid in which they'll raise the money for the surgery by staging split-second robberies of the homes of seven of the wealthiest men in Paris -- all of whom happen to work for the Heart Transplant Corporation. Shortly before Yamakasi was to premiere, director Julien Seri and screenwriter Philippe Lyon filed suit against Luc Besson and his production company, claiming their work had been unfairly tampered with; the suit didn't prevent the film from becoming an immediate box-office success in France.