BDC also writes for JACKEDUPTALES.COM
Here we are on yet ANOTHER St. Patrick's day; when a young man's (and woman's) fancy turns green and rampages through about every Irish pub in search of green beer. No, this isn't the plot of the much anticipated INCREDIBLE HULK sequel, it is simply the tradition of the young and crazy. AND, in honor of these revelers, I turn to another tradition of the holiday; that of the LUCK OF THE IRISH!
And not just the subject of LUCK, but the subject of LUCK in movies!
Now, I shifted through a number of titles not worth our time that used luck as a backdrop for a love story like IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU with Nick Cage and Bridgett Fonda. The outright goofy movies like DISNEY'S LUCK OF THE IRISH. Or maybe you remember GOOD LUCK CHUCK which uses luck in a strange and sexual way. Then there are movies that use 'bad luck' as a reason for slapstick like in the failed buddy movie PURE LUCK with Danny Glover and Martin Short (sorry guys for bringing it up).
But the only two movies that really get to the issue and use LUCK as a major story driver is INTACTO and LUCK.
Now the Indian Bollywood LUCK (2009) was actually based on the European classic INTACTO (2001), so it would go to figure that there would be reoccurring themes between them. However, the way they get to the end and the mood that is set are vastly different.
Both movies center on an incredibly lucky man who stands above the world, nearly untouchable. Intacto starred the impeccable Max Von Sydow as the Nazi concentration camp survivor, Samuel, who had risen past his incarceration to ride his luck to the top as owner of one of the most sought after casinos in the world.
LUCK starred accomplished Indian actor Sanjay Dutt who got his start way back in 1981 in the movie Rocky. Dutt's character, Karim Moussa, rose through the ranks of the lucky to find nothing could stop him. Both characters found that with profound luck came an incessant need to test it or, better yet, prove it. This brought them to death defying games of chance such as 5 bullet russian roulette (Intacto) to good old one bullet russian roulette (Luck). Both have vastly different endings that make both a good watch.
Both movies also include a second to the main Lucky Man. Both of these men have had a rough run of luck and rely on the luck of others like a drug. They also have a hard time staying away from the main character. In INTACTO, Eusebio Poncela plays Fredrico, a former student of Samuel, who decides to challenge him only to have his luck 'taken away' by the teacher. The rest of the movie is a desperate revenge plot although you can tell till the end that Fredrico still cares for his mentor. Danny Denzongpa plays Moussa's second in LUCK,Tamaang . He both envies, covets and needs the luck of his boss. There is no separation in these two.
Also included in both movies is the entrance of a younger challenger for the crown and the luck that the master so richly clings onto. Leonardo Sbaraglia plays Tomas, the only survivor of a crashed plane and incredibly lucky guy in INTACTO. In LUCK, Imran Khan plays Ram, a down on his luck young man who needs money to save his mother and their home. During a test by Tamaang, Ram picks several lucky lottery tickets beginning his quest to be the luckiest man alive.
On their way to the top, they come into contact with several other 'lucky' people. Intacto wasn't as organized or formulated in their contests. Although the detective (who was looking for Tomas for a bank robbery he committed before the plane crash) and one of Fredrico's friends, the bull fighter, did compete it was not as organized as the games in LUCK. There, they picked a pack of several people and went through a process of elimination in death defying stunts. Ram shared the games with the impetuous SHORTCUT, the eternal warrior Major Jabbar Pratap Singh, the ravenous and incidious Raghav and Ram's love interest, the beautiful Ayesha.
The moods of these two similar themed movies are vastly different. The European INTACTO kept a somber tone with sometimes vicious and angry scenes. The games were dark and secluded but always shown in ominous overtures. LUCK brought the flash of Bollywood with it and opened and closed with a music video! Although the games were dark by their very nature, the pace kept upbeat and played more on the campy than the serious. You knew the danger in both sets of games, but you just new that the hero would automatically win and his friends would probably be ok. Not that there weren't some perils, it was just they kept a brighter outlook. It had the feel of some of the movies from the 80s and 90s and the formulas that were tried and true. The hero gets the girl and swings through every obstacle like Tarzan. INTACTO brought with it the mood of the 2000s; dark, ominous and not at all sure where things were going. All bets were off and that ending...well, let's just say only one of the lucky are lucky enough to walk away.
I fully promote both of these movies to you. Don't watch them back to back though. You'll be tempted to compare. And there is not a real comparison besides what I've mentioned above. Let them stand on their own and enjoy them for their own production. Don't watch INTACTO if your depressed and don't watch LUCK if you're not in the mood for a bit of camp, flash and musical montages. Oh, and, if you're lucky, you can find both subtitled in english; althogh they both dabble in a bit of english, both are in a foriegn language.