13: Game of Death (2006)
By: Paul Ryan on May 14, 2009  | 
Madman (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). Thai DD 5.1, Thai DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 109 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Chukiat Sakveerakul
Starring: Krissada Terrence, Achita Wuthinounsurasit, Sarunyu Wongkrachang, Nattapong Arunnate
Screenplay: Chukiat Sakveerakul
Country: Thailand
External Links
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Puchit (Krissada Terrance) is a stressed out salesman of musical instruments. Deeply in debt, failing to meet his sales targets, and struggling to get over a recent break-up, Puchit is rapidly approaching rock-bottom. Just moments after being fired from his job, he receives a mysterious phone call from a game show, and is offered the chance to win 100 million Baht (or in Australian Dollars, $3,850,967), as long as he succeeds in meeting thirteen challenges. These "challenges" begin with simply having to kill a fly, but escalate in violence, disgustingness, and general criminality as they progress. Utterly desperate, Puchit reluctantly goes along with the challenges, and it isn't long before he has the police – and in turn, the media – chasing him across the city. But who is really behind this "game"?

Adapted from a popular Thai graphic novel (apparently the first Thai film to be adapted from a comic), 13: Game of Death has an intriguing – if colossally implausible – premise and some muscular direction from Chukiat Sakveerakul in it's favour. You are unlikely to forget moments like the utterly revolting restaurant scene, or a gruesome sequence in a fetid indoor well. Unfortunately, just as memorable are clunky moments of comic relief, where supporting characters act in bumbling, flailing, utterly moronic slapstick fashion. These bits aren't just badly written – feeling as if they've come from an entirely different movie – but performed in embarrassingly broad, would-be "funny" style, which is painful to watch. The schizophrenic tone seems intended to distract from the increasingly contrived and hole-ridden plot, but it doesn't work. Krissada Terrence is quite good in the lead, maintaining audience sympathy despite Puchit's increasingly heinous acts, but by the end, you're left feeling deeply unsatisfied. With some more thought, and less awful comedy, this might have been a genuine classic. Still, it seems to have impressed someone enough in Hollywood for there to be an American remake in the works… Oh joy.
It's a recent release, so it's no surprise that the video transfer is tip-top, though a touch grainy at times. Subtitles are in bold yellow and easy to follow.
Two audio tracks here, one in 5.1 and the other in 2.0. Both are crisp and clear, but the 5.1 is the better of the two, and beefs up the background sound effects more noticeably.
Extra Features
Teaser Trailer (1.40m): Running through 12 acts of random violence and crime (leaving a question mark over what number 13 might be), this is a clever teaser that creates an effective sense of mystery about the film.

Theatrical Trailer (2.08m): This gives you a good idea of what to expect, though it gives away a lot of the story as well. For some reason, this trailer is horizontally stretched to appear 2.35:1, thus making everyone in it look short and fat.

Behind-the-Scenes Featurette (17.50m): A passable look at the production of the film, which also touches on its comic book origins. Director Sakveerakul is shown at the end interviewing audience members after a preview screening. Their muted, polite replies speak volumes about what they really think about the film, but Sakveerakul seems pretty oblivious to it. Much reference is also made to a short prequel film 12 Begin, which screened in Thai cinemas in the lead up to the release of this one, but annoyingly, it isn't on this DVD. If you can understand Thai however, it is on YouTube, sans subtitles.

Stills Gallery: 15 stills from the film. As with most of these things, it's a useless extra, and makes you wonder why they throw them in.

Eastern Eye Trailers: Bonus previews of Monkey Magic, Big Man Japan, Born to Fight, and Infection.
The Verdict
There are two films duking it out within 13: Game of Death. One is clever, inventive and relentless, the other is stupid, painfully contrived and laden with idiotic comic relief. Eventually the latter wins out, but there are some genuinely stylish and memorably queasy moments amid the dross. Madman's disc is solid as usual, though the lack of the prequel short is a shame.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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