Intacto (2002, Spanish & English)

2/27/11

Do you feel Lucky?  Well do you...Max Von Sydow?!

Whether you believe in luck or not, some people are luckier than others. For instance you win the lottery, a superstitious friend would jokingly touch you, hoping your good luck would rub off on them. But what if luck could actually be transferred from one person to another? In this film, Intacto, 'luck' is actually considered a tangible commodity—something that can be won or lost from others, traded, stolen or gambled. Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (who also directed '28 Weeks Later'), this movie might make you wonder if there are really people who possess this power.

Intacto somehow reminds me of Fight Club, wherein willing participants gather in dark basements for games of chance. And we aren't talking about flipping coins here, baby. These games include Russian Roulette, running blindfolded across a freeway or through a dense forest handcuffed, and many other strange and ultra dangerous barometers all used to measure each participant's 'luck' against their competitors. Check out this scene where the 'gamers of luck' run through a forest, totally blindfolded and handcuffed...the last person who doesn't smack face first into a tree wins. Sounds like fun.

The players, in every clandestine gathering, bring Polaroids of what they are putting up for 'stakes' in the pot...for instance their own mansions, exotic cars, yachts, bank accounts, etc. Winner takes all.

This bilingual suspense movie has lots of twists of turns, so keep sharp (um, no texting during the film!) so you can keep pace with what's happening. Your attention will be worth it as 'Intacto' definitely and hugely pays off in the end. It keeps you glued to the screen, wondering if Tomas (Leonardo Sbaraglia) will succeed and be crowned as the king of luck. And more importantly...will he walk away from all the challenges "intacto," meaning intact and in one piece.

Somehow this one missed the mainstream media. But that's what we're here for, to help bring attention to the 'Uncommon Films for the Uncommon Cinifile.' And of course you're getting Max Von Sydow...Max alone is worth the Netflix mailer. For additional reference and something else to do instead of your office work (hehe), here's another yet different trailer that shows more of the story line. Do you feel lucky...well do you, Max Von Sydow?!

Synopsis

Samuel Berg aka "The Jew"(Max Von Sydow) is an old man who lives in the basement of his casino on a remote Spanish island. He is considered the master of chance, being the only 'fire survivor' during WWII in Europe and someone, coincidentally, has never lost in Russian Roulette. Federico (Eusebio Poncela), an earthquake survivor, is Samuel's protégé, and has a knack of taking anyone's luck just by touching their hand (an ability that helps the casino when a lucky gambler is winning high-stakes).

However, when Federico wants to call it quits and leave the master, the more powerful Samuel uses the same gift on him, leaving him with zero power...taking his luck. To revenge, Federico searches for the luckiest man alive to recruit and beat Samuel in the ultimate game of luck...Russian Roulette.

He discovers Tomas (Leonardo Sbaraglia), a bank robber and sole survivor of a recent major plane crash. Federico is convinced that Tomas might just be the one who could defeat Samuel. The two become partners, and Federico involves him in various high-stakes luck games and offbeat tournaments to confirm his abilities.

After Federico and Tomas win a grand villa from Alejandro (Antonio Dechent), an ex-bulfighter, the duo seems all set to fight against Samuel and acquire his luck as their own. On the other hand, Sara (Monica Lopez), a police detective and a lucky survivor of a car wreck is investigating the people involved with these secret 'luck' games, including Ana (Paz Gomez), Tomas' girlfriend.

Tomas initially wants to win more money, but he later realizes that Ana is his major prize—and that the primary reason he wants a showdown with Samuel is in pride and principle, wants to determine who the luckiest man on earth actually is.