Tuesday, January 8, 2008

DVD review: 13 Beloved

Just watched my newly arrived DVD of 13 Beloved last night, and as one of the best Thai films made in several years, I'm very glad to have it in the house.

Also known as 13: Game of Death or 13 Game Sayong, this English-subtitled disc is published by Innoform, and is available by mail order from MovieXclusive in Singapore.

Directed and co-written by Chukiat Sakweerakul, and based on a comic book by Eakasit Thairaat, who co-wrote the script, 13 Beloved is a gritty tale from the savage city of Bangkok, about a loser salesman who is sucked into an insidious underground Internet reality game show. To win cash, he must embark on a series of increasingly degrading and dangerous tasks.

Krissada Sukosol Clapp, a Thai-American pop singer and actor, plays the salesman, Chit, and perfectly portrays the character's desperation and anger.

It's a film that reached out to me when I first saw it back in 2006, as it really laid bare the vanity, greed and superficiality that seems to be the rule in society today. Hearteningly, it was nominated for dozens of awards in Thailand, and won three best actor prizes. It also won prizes at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival and the Fantasia Festival.

Beyond the English subtitles, the disc has a "making of" feature, which is not subtitled at all. It's still fascinating viewing, though, especially scenes from the rehearsal of the opening scene, in which the green bus actually collides with the pickup it is supposed to zip around at the last second! There's also some deleted scenes narrated (in Thai) by Chukiat and the trailer.

But having English subtitles on the film itself is the main selling point for this disc, and it's likely the only one available anywhere in the world. As with most DVD releases of Thai films in Thailand, the English subtitles were omitted. And the film is unlikely to be picked up for release in North America because the remake rights have been picked up by The Weinstein Company, which will more than likely sit on the original version. The remake will have to be pretty darn good to top the original, though.

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