Director – Chookiat Sakveerakul
Cast – Krissada Sukosol, Achita Sikamana, Sarunyu Wongkrachang, Nattapong Arunnate, Namfon Pakdee, Piyapan Choopech
Release Year – 2008
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I always wanted to see 13: Game of Death but could never get my hands on the DVD until Netflix came to the rescue. This is one of those situations where I saw the American redo, 13 Sins, before the original effort, and thankfully that did not have an impact on how I viewed this flick. With a highly engaging story that constantly builds in intensity, this Thai horror experience delivers a unique premise that I have seen used in horror films debuting today.
Pusit has never had a more horrible day of his life. He just lost his job, he is in serious debt, and his family is begging him for money. His despair suddenly put on hold though when he receives a mysterious phone call with a very tempting offer: complete 13 tasks and win 100 million Baht. Pusit sees no other option but to take the offer, initiating a game he will soon regret.
One could say that Saw kicked off the “do you want to play a game?” tactic, but in the case of 13: Game of Death the prize isn’t just surviving your hellish ordeal. The prize is money. I saw this used in the recent horror film Would You Rather, and because of mankind’s reluctance on monetary value I enjoy seeing people do stupid / dangerous things for a quick buck. The story takes off developing Pusit’s situation, and after 17 minutes of being exposed to his pathetic life he receives the phone call of a lifetime. 17 minutes after this he is doing the unfathomable for a few thousand Baht, but before long the stakes are raised to supreme levels and Pusit is now a wanted man. Watching him dig himself deeper and deeper into all sorts of legal trouble brings forth more tension than I expected, and with this being a horror film you can expect a few solid death scenes as well. I was hoping for an elaborate scheme behind the phone calls and the tasks Pusit was forced to accomplish, but the end revelation was a bit of a bummer for me. I won’t say it was a bad idea, it just did not appeal to me and was actually pretty damn outlandish.
Director Chookiat Sakveerakul does a good job of making this an exciting experience for the viewer. From the very moment that Pusit receives the first phone call he throws us into the same paranoia that our lead is faced with as he strives desperately to raise the money that would make the rest of his life a breeze. His camerawork makes this a more action-packed film that I imagined it would be and he delivers full-frontal execution of some pretty hard-to-watch scenes that put “Fear Factor” to shame. We don’t get too much as far as gore goes, and what gore we do receive is CGI, but nonetheless Sakveerakul finds ways to shock the viewer and that is why this flick has a positive reputation.
Overall, 13: Game of Death is a great Thai horror film I suggest you check out. In a perfect world you would see this before the American redo, but if that is not the case this is still a worthy experience you should be a part of.