Here's a nice surprise from The Weinstein Company's Dimension Extreme label: An apparently uncut, "unrated" DVD release for 13: Game of Death, also known by its less-menacing title, 13 Beloved, or the Thai title, 13 Game Sayong.
Directed by Chukiat Sakweerakul, and adapted from a Thai comic book, 13: Game of Death stars Noi Sukosol as a struggling band-instrument salesman who is insidiously sucked into an underground Internet reality game, in which he must complete a series of 13 increasingly degrading, dangerous and deadly stunts, in order to win 100 million baht. (That's about US$3.3 million, but it's been translated to 100 million dollars in the English subtitles, and for purposes of marketing the film to audiences outside Thailand). It was my favorite Thai film of 2006, and one of the best Thai films to come along in years.
Now, I would have liked to have seen a stateside theatrical run for this film, and I don't much care for the pandering to the Saw/Hostel gorehound crowd with the DVD cover art, but it's better than nothing, especially since I expected the Weinsteins, who purchased the remake rights, to bury the original.
The DVD will be released on March 11 and it is available for pre-order from Thai Film Journal affliates HK Flix or Amazon. The DVD has also been released in Singapore, but for DVD players locked on Region 1, the Dimension Extreme release appears to be just the thing. It's less expensive, too.
Meanwhile, a sequel, 14 Beyond, is being developed by the director, possibly for release sometime in 2009. What would be nice to see at some point is a definitive DVD release that would include an English-subtitled version of the short-film prequel, 12 Begin.