March 13, 2015

Tazza: The Hidden Card: War Is a Card Game

No one's saying that you need when to know when to play the crane and when to play the butterflies in the card game Go-Stop in order to be able to follow the action in Kang Hyeong-cheol's Tazza: The Hidden Card. For someone like me (i.e., a complete ignoramus), each time a card was thrown down -- be it the cuckoo or the sake cup -- I had to wait for the collective onscreen reactions before I knew who'd won and who'd lost. Here's what I could follow.

Teen hustler De-gil (Choi Seung-hyun) only has eyes for the sassy sister (Shin Se-kyung) of a neighborhood boy (Kim In-kwon) until he sees a dancing cartoon character on the clean white panties of a femme fatale (Lee Ha-nui) who basically sells one of his kidneys for a big score which leads him to a life on the run where he encounters a small-time crook (Yoo Hae-jin) who's got big life lessons to share that come in handy when he's forced to face off with two master criminals (Kim Yun-seok and Kwak Do-won).

For clarity's sake I've edited out all the backstabbing betrayals and shaky partnerships that precede the final Go-Stop game conducted in underwear (which came as a let-down after a promise of nudity in the subtitled dialogue). By that point, you won't give a damn about how the actual card game works because you'll be too invested in the various players and how they're playing each other.

You might not know it and you'd certainly never guess it from watching the movie but Tazza: The Hidden Card is actually the follow-up to Choi Dong-hoon's immensely box office smash Tazza: The High Rollers. Though the two movies feature return performances by a couple of actors — but sadly not Kim Hye-su who was such a wonderful dragon lady in the original — the majority of the cast as well as the director (Kang Hyeong-choi) and his writing collaborators (Cho Sang-bum and Lee Ji-gang) are entirely new. If there were any major narrative callbacks to the original, I certainly didn't catch them. Nor did I miss them. Nor did I want them.

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