Friday, 10 December 2010


Sadly another foreign classic has been taken on by Hollywood and ripped apart. It's a shame as the cast is quite impressive: Mickey Rourke, Ray Winstone, Sam Riley, Jason Statham, David Zayas (looking a bit more menacing here), an awful 50 Cent and the incredible Michael Shannon (fast becoming one of my favourite actors). But with such an engaging story, a respectable cast and with the same director as the original French film, surely they're not taking any chances here? Spin. Aim. Not necessarily survive.

13 Tzameti was a great film for all the right reasons. The story, if you don't know, is about an underground game of Russian Roulette where people bet a lot of money on the outcome. In a weird sequence of events, a young man gets involved without knowing what it is and ends up having to play the game. The first film was a black and white, gritty, disturbing film that was full of suspense and everything that worked about it has sadly floundered in this remake.

There's a number of reasons why. Firstly, there is a multiple narrative about some of the other contestants, this means that you lose the personal attachment you have with Riley in the first place. It also means that due to the famous cast, you know who is going to survive and who isn't. The Hollywood sheen where it looks pretty, full of rich colours and takes place in a rich mansion means it loses all it's dirty, hostile and cold surroundings that made the original film feel so awkward to situate yourself in. The build-up to watching the bulb is about 1% of the tension of the original, you honestly didn't know what was going to happen in the first one but in this instance you feel like you do and the tension isn't there at all. Instead it feels like a stupid game where you don't care about anyone.

The stories of the other contestants detract from the mood and feel like a complete distraction. Rourke's storyline especially. His little story alongside the painfully unbearable 50 Cent is completely unjustified and a waste of time. Statham and Winstone's brotherly love hasn't been thought out and feels superfluous to say the least. Sam Riley does an okay job as the young innocent player, but his lack of conviction makes you feel like a voyeur rather than being involved. The actual game itself and the gambling techniques were also completely unclear and convoluted with the bulb, once being the main source of tension in the first film, rather being set as a preoccupation. The reason why they had a hanging bulb in the first room is that it was a tiny concrete room, so the only thing there was the bulb hanging down, casting judgement. Whereas here, you can't imagine that blowing each other's brains out around such rich tapestry is ideal for cleaning up.

The rest of the acting was awful and even Shannon, as another crazy character, is so OTT that you can't help but feel it's comical. The only saving grace about this film is the Russian Roulette itself but I implore you not to watch this film and go out of your way to watch the original instead, otherwise it will ruin the experience for you completely. You'd think since 2005 Babluani would have become a better director, sadly he hasn't and with The Legacy ( L'héritage ) being his only film made between the original and this one, perhaps he's just out of practise. A film that should never have been remade and is an example that Hollywood should sometimes just leave things alone instead of ruining the experience for everyone.

Rating: 3/10

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