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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Premise, A Deadly Game: This Remake Lacks The Intensity Of The Original, But Is Still Worth A Look
A few years ago, I came across an odd little foreign film that I absolutely fell in love with named "13 Tzameti." At the time, I had no clue what the movie was about and, without preconceived notions, I was fascinated by the dark and twisted tale that unraveled. As a young man is drawn into a complicated and deadly underground battle for survival, the movie is rather...
Published on October 16, 2011 by K. Harris

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An unlucky number for a film that fails to deliver on its premise--the underworld of Russian Roulette betting
Even a great premise and a strong supporting cast can't save a poorly made movie. "13" sat on the shelf for over a year (it was produced for release in 2010) for very good reason--it's not very good. In "13" Vince (Sam Riley who played Ian Curtis so well in "Control") who needs money for his father's operation takes on the identity of a dead drug addict unaware that he's...
Published on November 28, 2011 by Wayne Klein


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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Premise, A Deadly Game: This Remake Lacks The Intensity Of The Original, But Is Still Worth A Look, October 16, 2011
This review is from: 13 [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
A few years ago, I came across an odd little foreign film that I absolutely fell in love with named "13 Tzameti." At the time, I had no clue what the movie was about and, without preconceived notions, I was fascinated by the dark and twisted tale that unraveled. As a young man is drawn into a complicated and deadly underground battle for survival, the movie is rather stunning in its simplicity. As a very low budget endeavor, it used its sparseness to great advantage. Claustrophobic, tense, and unrelenting, the camera pushes up close and personal as the tension escalates throughout and it is truly a riveting and, at times, unsettling experience. Its writer/director Gela Babluani has been given the opportunity to adapt his thrilling and award winning sensation (Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Best Director at Venice Film Festival) into an English language version with a pretty impressive cast. The resultant "13" lacks a bit of the intensity of its predecessor, and opening up the story doesn't necessarily serve the material well. Also, its intriguing premise is a little harder to buy in an American Midwest setting, but the movie still has a visceral punch that a certain audience might enjoy.

The movie stars Sam Riley (so great in Control) as an electrician whose family is in dire financial straits. At a work site, he hears talk of a clandestine "job" that has the potential to pay huge. When the person planning on attending the job dies of an overdose, Riley nabs the instructions and heads off to take his place. He has no idea what is in store for him! What he finds is a chilling sports contest in which people bet on life and death itself in increasingly challenging rounds. He can't back out and there can be only one winner, and Riley has no choice but to try to make it to the end. The testosterone fueled plot is headlined by some talented individuals--Mickey Rourke and Ray Winstone are fellow contestants, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and Alexander Skarsgard are two of the contestant minders, Ben Gazzara and Jason Statham are financially invested, and Michael Shannon is the evening's intense emcee. While it is a fantastic cast, though, no one (aside from Riley and maybe Statham) really has a lot to do.

Herein lies the problem, Babluani tries to adapt his screenplay to accommodate this roster of actors. So we get flashbacks and character development for peripheral and non-important characters. Yes, now we get more of Mickey Rourke and 50 Cent, but this actually detracts from the central contest. And that is the movie! The contest is inescapable and the original movie put viewers on the front lines until the very end. It was exquisitely uncomfortable in confining us in the small and deadly space. But while I wasn't necessarily blown away by "13," I still appreciated its unsavory premise. The cast is quite good, even if underutilized, and it's not a movie you feel like you've seen a hundred times before. Those expecting big action may have to look elsewhere, this plays more as a psychological thriller. I suspect this movie might be a bit divisive--you could think it is outlandish and hate it or you could like it for its uniqueness. I liked, but didn't love, "13." But I do recommend it and, if you ever get the chance, check out the original as well for something a bit more harrowing. About 3 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 10/11.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gambling Can Be The Death of You!, November 24, 2011
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This review is from: 13 (Amazon Instant Video)
Georgian writer Géla Babluani found such success in his film 13 Tzameti n 2005 that he decided to recreated the story, this time placing it in the United States. Co-writing this version with Gregory Pruss is the only aspect of this adaptation he shared. The story is a tough one to watch, not unlike `Fight Club', but with higher stakes. It share how far gambling men will go to get their thrills, making cock fights seem very tame. The game at hand is based on gathering quasi-desperate men (prisoners, men deeply in debt, criminals who have little to lose, etc), placing them in a room with tee shirts bearing numbers, giving them guns, placing them in a circle, and on the command of the master of ceremonies they are to fire their gun into the head of the person in front of them. A smarmy form of Russian roulette, at first each man's gun has one bullet in the chamber, but as the game goes on more bullets are placed and the game continues until there is one man left alive. The gamblers place bets on the various numbered men and the stakes are high. This process is performed in a isolated meeting space and is closely scrutinized by detectives who seek to uncover the scheme and stop it.

Vince (Sam M. Riley of `Control' and `Brighton Rock') is a young electrician whose father has been in an accident resulting in sever injuries that require multiple surgeries. Vince's family must put their house up for sale to pay the expenses unless Vince can find a quicker way to make big money to pay the hospital and surgeons. Quite by accident while doing an electrical job he over hears the house owner discuss a `job' that promises to pay a lot of money. The man plans on doing the job, receives an envelope with instructions, but then shoots up heroin and dies of an overdose. Vince helps the police who investigate, but before leaving the house Vince takes the envelope that contains instructions and a cell phone and a piece of bark with the number 13 printed on it. Vince follows the instructions and ends up in a complex scheme - the ultimate result of which is the fact that he becomes #13 in the gambling game. Others sequestered for the killer game include Mickey Rourke, Ray Winstone, and among those involved in the offensive debacle are Alexander Skarsgard, Ben Gazzara, and emcee Michael Shannon. The ending of the film is a complete surprise and revealing even part of it would ruin the impact of the film.

This is definitely not a film for the fainthearted. That such a gruesome gambling scheme could exist is terrifying. But the production and the acting and the grisly atmosphere is well worth the moviegoer's attention. Grady Harp, November 11
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An unlucky number for a film that fails to deliver on its premise--the underworld of Russian Roulette betting, November 28, 2011
This review is from: 13 (DVD)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Even a great premise and a strong supporting cast can't save a poorly made movie. "13" sat on the shelf for over a year (it was produced for release in 2010) for very good reason--it's not very good. In "13" Vince (Sam Riley who played Ian Curtis so well in "Control") who needs money for his father's operation takes on the identity of a dead drug addict unaware that he's stepping into a high stakes illegal contest where he competes against others (Ray Winstone, Mickey Rourke)playing Russian Roulette. The chance to make millions and save his father keeps Vince from trying to escape.

Co-writer Greg Pruss and director Géla Babluani take a fascinating premise that has great potential and wastes it in a film that generates no suspense and, essentially, goes no where. It's tragic because the film has a strong cast (including Jason Statham, Ben Gazzara and Alexander Skarsgård) given very little to do but look moody and trade threatening glances. This is evidently a remake of a foreign film which I haven't seen so I don't know how it compares to that original film.

For those who care the image quality is quite good as is the 5.1 audio mix. The only extra is a featurette on the making of the film.

"13" wastes a strong cast, a great premise with the result a disappointing genre film that fails to deliver on all fronts.

Unless your idea of fun is watching men scream at each other, shoot each other in the head in tension and action free sequences, you should avoid "13".
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pointless, November 22, 2011
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This review is from: 13 (DVD)
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It's hard to imagine a movie with an interesting cast, photography that evokes a neo-noir mood and very good acting to be such a dud. The film centers around a group of high stake (but jaded) gamblers and a group of miserable losers who enter a game of Russian roulette for the possibility of ending debt, paying the freight for an operation to save a loved one or some other (unspecified) reasons. Each of those who play the game, enter a circle and point a revolver to the man's head in front of them. The players all have a number, and the film's title is based on the number of the film's hero, such as he is--number 13.

The film drags the viewer through a series of "games" managed by what amounts to a game show host as the paying customers place their bets on who will survive and stand way too close to the circle of men who point and shoot at the person in front of them. Anyway, if you're interested in good actors doing nothing quite well, and the paint has dried so that you cannot watch it, this film will still bore you to sleep--only to be awaken by the occasional pop of a gun into the back of the head of an unlucky player. After viewing this film, you may wish you were one of the players who got shot.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3, November 23, 2011
This review is from: 13 (DVD)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I guess since this was about Russian roulette and listed Jason Statham as one of the stars I expected it to be more exciting. I was definitely not on the edge of my seat, even when guys had guns to each other's heads.

Another complaint I have is I didn't really feel I knew much about most of the characters. In many cases I didn't even know their names. It took a little straining to remember the "hero" is named Vince, in large part because for 2/3 of the movie he's referred to as "Number 13."

The reason for this is that Vince finds an invitation to a Russian roulette tournament. The mechanics of this are a little hazy to me. I think Vince is working at renovating this guy's house. The guy overdoses on morphine after he gets the invitation. Vince finds it and since he needs money for an operation for his dad (I think), he goes to New York to take the other guy's place.

The tournament is held in a mansion (or something) out in the middle of nowhere. I don't know how far you have to get from New York City for that. There are at least 17 players. Each one has essentially a sponsor. I'm not really sure who Vince's was. At the house we meet some of the other participants. There's #17 (Mickey Rourke) who was in a Mexican prison before being smuggled into the US for the tournament. He keeps telling his handler (50 Cent) that he knows where there's a large stash of money. 17 and his money really have no bearing on the overall plot.

Vince's main rival is #6 Robert Lynn (Ray Winstone) who was in a mental institution until his brother Jasper (Jason Statham) signs him out to be in the tourney. #6 has won the tourney a few times before. For some reason, Jasper borrows 2 million from someone to gamble in the tourney on his brother.

I think part of the reason I was never too excited is besides being located in a mansion--and not somewhere seedy like a back alley--is there are so many rules. For the first two rounds everyone stands in a circle. They're given a gun and one bullet. They put the guns in the air and spin the chamber around at the behest of the referee who sits in a chair like a tennis umpire. Then each player puts his gun at the head of the guy in front of him. (They are all guys.) When a light with spiders on it (why spiders? I don't know) goes on, they fire. Some people die and others live. For the next round, there are two bullets in the guns. The final round features two players chosen at random to "duel." They get three bullets in their guns. If you can't guess who is chosen to duel they show you A) on the DVD back cover and B)A few minutes into the film. So I guess that's another strike as it spoils a little of the drama.

Anyway, with so many rules and everything so well-mannered (they even let the "survivors" go free!) it felt more like watching tennis than Russian roulette. That and I didn't really know much about the important characters and a lot of characters weren't that important anyway, like #17.

So this definitely could have been a better movie. Maybe the original version was better; I might have to go look for it on Netflix or something.

BTW, there were no extras on the copy I was given from the Vine newsletter. I don't know if the copy for purchase has any extras or what they might be.

That is all.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Soundtrack????, December 4, 2011
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This review is from: 13 (Amazon Instant Video)
The story I feelt would have been great, but the development was below B-budget. I've also always felt that a soundtrack truly either makes the movie or destroys it, and this one definitely destroyed it! I would have given 3 stars but the music was unbelievably out of place. Okay to watch but definitely wouldnt buy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious movie about Russian Roulette wastes its macho cast, January 7, 2012
By 
Scott Schiefelbein (Portland, Oregon United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 13 (DVD)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you were to ask me if I'd be interested in watching a bloody B-movie starring Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Ray Winstone, Alexander Skarsgard, and 50-Cent (aka Curtis Jackson), the honest part of me would have been alternatively delighted and ashamed of myself. This quick description promises what could be a Great Guy Movie.

Unfortunately, the movie we're talking about is "13," and it's pretty bad.

For one thing, the movie has no idea whose story it's telling. For a movie with the aforementioned cast, you'd expect any one of them to make a compelling protagonist. But the movie instead revolves around a young down-on-his-luck electrician named Vince (Sam Riley). Odd jobs aren't enough for him to help his struggling family, and through a mix of coincidences and bad choices Vince finds himself a "player" in a demented game of Russian Roulette where various wealthy men wager millions on who will survive.

The tournament is simplicity itself. Each player gets a revolver and, in the first round, a single bullet is spun into a random chamber. They stand in circle, each aiming at the fellow in front of them. A light bulb goes off, and everyone shoots. Survivors make the next round. In the second round, two bullets are loaded, and so forth. These scenes are surprisingly devoid of suspense or charm - due in no small part that we really don't care a whit about Vince, who's a pretty unsympathetic guy.

"13" has no idea what to do with its macho cast. Alexander Skarsgard does little more than look concerned. Mickey Rourke has a poorly-explained back story and does little more than grumble and flex. Jason Statham has some good moments as the guy who's making millions entering his mentally-challenged brother (Ray Winstone) in these tournaments, but these two gifted actors are wasted as well.

The story simply meanders. One major character makes it through and is told, "you can go." Apparently he does, because we never see him again. In another scene, a man attempts to garrote a player when another man walks in. "Stop that!" he barks, and the assassination attempt ceases, but apparently with no hard feelings because nothing comes of it. Most characters have no back story, no motivation, no compelling reason to be in this life-or-death tourney . . . they are simply there because the half-baked screenplay requires them to be.

Hollywood has a long if not proud history of milking the "tournament of death" sub-genre of action movies. Some of these can be quite good - such as "The Quick and the Dead," "Gladiator," etc. These movies give their characters just enough back story to justify their role in such an insane contest and they have more than a ibt of sly fun with the whole thing. They can be great guilty pleasures. "13" is neither great nor a pleasure, but it makes you feel a bit guilty for having watched it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An okay movie, but horrible ending..., December 14, 2011
This review is from: 13 (DVD)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This movie is was okay. From what I thought, the movie was gonna strictly be action, people blowing each other's heads off...and good stuff like that. First of all, it took like 40 minutes before the first trigger was even pulled. Talk about playing the waiting game. I mean, it's one thing if I have to wait for the story to get set up and this and that, but this was ridiculous. Here I am, waiting...and waiting, for nothing. The plot is completely unlikely, and they took forever getting to the good stuff.

Another thing that I was pretty excited about was both Jason Statham and 50 Cent both playing in the same movie. But, seriously, 50 Cent plays a really small part...a part barely even worthy of being on the cover. And Jason Statham...well, I guess I can just leave it at the fact that even his lamest movie was better than this. Such a let down for such great name drops.

In the end, I say this movie took forever to get into, and once you were into it...it only had your attention for 15 minutes! Then it went back into the same old lame back story.Take my advice, don't buy this movie. You'll be greatly disappointed if you do.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Premise, A Deadly Game: This Remake Lacks The Intensity Of The Original, But Is Still Worth A Look, November 8, 2011
This review is from: 13 (Amazon Instant Video)
A few years ago, I came across an odd little foreign film that I absolutely fell in love with named "13 Tzameti." At the time, I had no clue what the movie was about and, without preconceived notions, I was fascinated by the dark and twisted tale that unraveled. As a young man is drawn into a complicated and deadly underground battle for survival, the movie is rather stunning in its simplicity. As a very low budget endeavor, it used its sparseness to great advantage. Claustrophobic, tense, and unrelenting, the camera pushes up close and personal as the tension escalates throughout and it is truly a riveting and, at times, unsettling experience. Its writer/director Gela Babluani has been given the opportunity to adapt his thrilling and award winning sensation (Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Best Director at Venice Film Festival) into an English language version with a pretty impressive cast. The resultant "13" lacks a bit of the intensity of its predecessor, and opening up the story doesn't necessarily serve the material well. Also, its intriguing premise is a little harder to buy in an American Midwest setting, but the movie still has a visceral punch that a certain audience might enjoy.

The movie stars Sam Riley (so great in Control) as an electrician whose family is in dire financial straits. At a work site, he hears talk of a clandestine "job" that has the potential to pay huge. When the person planning on attending the job dies of an overdose, Riley nabs the instructions and heads off to take his place. He has no idea what is in store for him! What he finds is a chilling sports contest in which people bet on life and death itself in increasingly challenging rounds. He can't back out and there can be only one winner, and Riley has no choice but to try to make it to the end. The testosterone fueled plot is headlined by some talented individuals--Mickey Rourke and Ray Winstone are fellow contestants, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and Alexander Skarsgard are two of the contestant minders, Ben Gazzara and Jason Statham are financially invested, and Michael Shannon is the evening's intense emcee. While it is a fantastic cast, though, no one (aside from Riley and maybe Statham) really has a lot to do.

Herein lies the problem, Babluani tries to adapt his screenplay to accommodate this roster of actors. So we get flashbacks and character development for peripheral and non-important characters. Yes, now we get more of Mickey Rourke and 50 Cent, but this actually detracts from the central contest. And that is the movie! The contest is inescapable and the original movie put viewers on the front lines until the very end. It was exquisitely uncomfortable in confining us in the small and deadly space. But while I wasn't necessarily blown away by "13," I still appreciated its unsavory premise. The cast is quite good, even if underutilized, and it's not a movie you feel like you've seen a hundred times before. Those expecting big action may have to look elsewhere, this plays more as a psychological thriller. I suspect this movie might be a bit divisive--you could think it is outlandish and hate it or you could like it for its uniqueness. I liked, but didn't love, "13." But I do recommend it and, if you ever get the chance, check out the original as well for something a bit more harrowing. About 3 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 10/11.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Less drama than "Let's Make a Deal", February 15, 2012
This review is from: 13 (DVD)
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Less drama than "Let's Make a Deal"...that's the first thing my husband said when this movie was over, and I'm strongly inclined to agree. I was never on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. This was a thriller with no suspense. None whatsoever. The plot is extremely predictable, even the ending was easy to see coming. For a professionally-made movie, everything about it came off as amateurish.

No real character development to speak of, which is the real tragedy of this movie. It has a stellar cast, all of whom deserved better than the weak storytelling. I never saw the original, but '13' never had me invested in any of the characters. And not even really in the protagonist, whose actions at times really defy logic.

I'm all for shoot-em-ups with no plot, but this movie didn't even achieve that level. A big disappointment.
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13 [Blu-ray]
13 [Blu-ray] by Gela Babluani (Blu-ray - 2011)
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