With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Saturday, March 15, 2008

ACF 087: "13: Game of Death" Streets 03.18.08

13: Game of death / 13 game sayawng
Directed by Chookiat Sakveerakul
Thailand, 2006, 117 minutes

13: Game of Death is an incredibly great horror/thriller from Thailand. A single disc DVD will be available this coming Tuesday, March 18th, 2008 from Dimension Extreme.

Phuchit Puengnathong (Krisada Sukolsol) is a salesman of musical instruments for Sahamongkol Music, and a more out of luck follow would be hard to find. Another salesman has beaten him to an important sale at a school, and Phuchit, or Chit as he's sometimes called, is fired in a cost-cutting move. Further problems befall him that I won't give away here other than to say that he's not only out of work but also deep in debt.

A chance for salvation arrives unexpectedly when he gets a call on his cell phone. The unidentified caller, who knows all about him and his situation, asks if he's willing to be a contestant in a mysterious game show. All Phuchit has to do is complete 13 tasks. Success at each task will result in increasingly large deposits being made automatically to his bank account. He can chose to quit at any time, but if he completes all 13 challenges, the total winnings will amount to 100 million bhat, a veritable fortune.

Though skeptical, Phuchit accepts and succeeds at the first task, which is simply to kill a fly that's been annoying him. A call on his cell phone immediately informs him that a deposit in the amount specified for the task has been deposited in his account.

Thereafter the tasks get increasingly disgusting, revolting, violent, and unlawful. Before long his very humanity is being challenged, but he's at least as caught up in playing the game as he is in winning the 100 million bhat. Tong (Achita Sigkamana), a friend who installed the computer system at his job, becomes worried about him and manages to hack into the game's website. Will she be able to get through to him before he's totally engulfed by greed, or before he's captured by the police?

Phuchit (r) hides from Police Colonel Surachai (center, background) and his men

Based on a comic by Eakasit Thairatana, the screenplay was written by Director Sakveerakul. He's done a fantastic job taking an outrageous premise and making it sufficiently believable in what, unlike a comic, is essentially a realistic medium.

Krisada Sukolsol is flawless as Phuchit, a simple everyman caught up in something way beyond what he's really prepared to deal with. He won the 2007 Thailand National Film Association Award for best actor. The film received the association's award for best visual effects. One of them will most surely remind you of an effect towards the end of the movie Hannibal.

I'm normally not a big fan of horror/thrillers. Most of them are just too flawed in one way or another for my taste: stupid premise, plot holes big enough to drive a semi through, horrendous acting, whatever. In all honesty, I'm not sure how the opening scene in 13 ties in to the overall story and I found the ending rather enigmatic. Nonetheless, this film totally had me in its grip. I loved it and really look forward to watching it again.

13: Game of Death is that rarest of breeds: an intense, gripping thriller that's also thoughtful and intelligent. The direction, acting, special effects, and musical score are all outstanding . I give it an ACF rating of 4 out of 4 stars, highest recommendation.

DVD Specs:
Price - $19.97
Widescreen format
Unrated (no nudity or sex, but there's a lot of brutal violence)
Languages: Thai Dolby 5.1, English Dolby 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Special Features:
- "The Making of 13: Game of Death" (Approximately 16 minutes long, it features the director and cast actually talking about the movie, not doing the "how great it was to work with" blah, blah, blah that I personally can't stand)
- Trailer and Teaser

IMDb links (some DVD subtitle names differ from the IMDb listings):
Game of Death
Chookiat Sakveerakul, director; this is his 2nd film
Krisada Sukolsol, actor (Phuchit), this is his 3rd movie
Achita Sigkamana, actress (Tong); this is her 2nd movie
Saranyu Wongkrachang, actor (Police Colonel Surachai)

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