Sunday, 30 August 2009

13 Game Of Death

13 Game Sayawng
aka 13 Beloved

‘‘People who play make their own choices’’
Released in its native homeland as 13 Game Sayawng, this is another example of inventive and at times extreme cinema from Thailand. Focusing on the moral dilemma’s of a simple man in an immoral society, given the choices of redemption or the riches beyond that of most attaining in a lifetime. Fate is always waiting, and when it delivers the consequences are far reaching !.
When salesman Pusit, or Chad as he is called in the English dubbed version of the movie, falls upon hard times it is difficult for him to see a way out of his growing debt. His car is taken away as he has fallen behind with payments, his warmth towards his mother in not being able to refuse her financial assistance is hitting his pay packet, and to top it all his competitive business colleagues cost him not only a good sale but inevitably his job !. Chad has hit rock bottom, but even rock bottom has multi layers beneath it as he is soon to discover.

Down on his luck and seemingly no way out of his financial dilemma Chad receives a call to his mobile. An anonymous voice tells him of an opportunity to pick himself up out of the gutter and make himself a millionaire. All he has to do is undertake thirteen tasks. The first of which is simple enough, he is told to kill a fly. Upon undertaking the request he is informed that his bank account has just received a healthy financial deposit, which if he so chooses may multiply upon the undertaking of other tasks. Bemused yet intrigued, and certainly not unhappy at receiving payment for his part in merely dealing with a pesky insect, Chad follows up his first act in eating the squashed fly as instructed. With the promise of greater monetary rewards, with continued completion of tasks, Chad is soon signed up. Once embroiled in this bizarre take on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here Chad is informed that he will only get to keep what he has already received, and attain the ultimate pay off of the million dollars upon absolute completion of All thirteen tasks !. How can he possibly stop now !?.
With each new task comes a far greater extremity, ultimately leading to consequences testing Chad’s morality, all for the reward of avarice beyond his meagre standing. Of course the undertakings become more outlandish, bizarre and harmful to both Chad and those who come into contact with him. Just how far will Chad go to achieve a life for himself that will put him outside of the day to day struggles of regular life ?. Is the reward of financial security more important than that of friendship, compassion and humanity !?.
The farther Chad progresses towards the final thirteenth task the more he has to endure, but also he starts to recognise a similarity with his past within the structure of what he is being told to do. Is there actually a meaning to what he is doing, and if so what awaits him should he achieve his final goal ?.
Thai cinema in recent years has painted a cinematic canvas of the extreme in terms of horror and visceral delivery, to both intrigue and shock its audience. Here is a smart overture to the world of intrigue that embroils its viewer into the spiralling decent of a good person, tortured by temptation and yet spurred on by the belief of redemption. A very clever weave of cat and mouse where the cat may have very big and sharp teeth, but the mouse has all the cunning and guile of a fly weight able to box beyond its designation with one heck of a bloody punch !.
There are several startling tasks that Chad has to undertake and a couple that will have you wide eyed in startled awe at the sheer gravity of what unravels, not to mention the scenes of gory despatch that place this in the adult viewing category just beyond the half way viewing stage !. What starts out as a game of chance becomes one of consequence right through to the neat conclusion that delivers its lethal blow !.
The movie is likely best undertaken in its intended format, watching in original language with deployed subtitles. The English dubbed take is well managed but does have that somewhat flat feel of an older Jackie Chan movie, one that all too often brought about unintended levity from what was actually a hard hitting Action flick. There is also a very irritating mobile phone ring tone in the dubbed version, not to mention the complete change of names for all concerned, to no doubt Americanise proceedings.

Whichever version is watched ,however, 13 Beloved is definitely worth your time. The success of this Asian cult film in the making is sure to have a sequel, which will work due to the nature of the thematic elements of the movie that do not rely upon requiring the return of any previous stars, and doubtlessly we can expect an English language remake before very long at all.

It’s a riveting shocker that keeps the viewer involved throughout, certainly flawed but ultimately entertaining right to the conclusive reveal, with flaws inevitably due to budgetary restraint and cultural interpretation. Get your eyes on this prize and be rewarded as each layer is unwrapped, but do stay away from the restaurant Chad visits, as you’ll find the chef’s special hard to stomach.

Review Paul Cooke / Source Region 2 PAL DVD

13 Game Sayawng (2006)
Director Chukiat Sakveerakul
With Krissada Terrence, Achita Wuthinounsurasit
& Sarunyu Wongkrachang


  1. Im glad you liked this one, I have seen so many bad reviews but I enjoyed every minute of it and thought it was incredibly unique!

  2. Hey Carl,The movie had that must watch to conclusion & definitely built upon both tension & 'what next' qualities. The scene with the clothes line was 'Taut' & to the extreme !. Definitely worth seeing. I can almost picture the guys behind say Final Destination doing the American re-make.

  3. Hey Paul,
    Sounds very interesting! Which versions did you compare and which release would you recommend? Cheers.

  4. Hi Jack, I watched from the UK PAL DVD & was rushing around so started the movie in the English dubbed version before realising my mistake. I always prefer original language with subtitles where available. It really was easy to get into though & the voices really kinda fitted so I chose to stick with what I was viewing. I would say for a spot on translation & to rid minor niggles such as names & that darned ring tone for the mobile I'd watch the Thai version with subs next time out.

  5. Thanks Paul. I had a little trouble finding the UK dvd until it dawned on me they used a different title than the one you mention here: "13 Game Of Death".

  6. Yes indeed, the movie has several titles. I should have made it clearer other than the page header as to version viewed. Please do let me have your thoughts when you get around to seeing it Jack.