With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Friday, September 26, 2014

TAZZA: THE HIDDEN CARD opens today in the U.S. and Canada

CJ Entertainment

Tazza: The Hidden Card (a.k.a. Tazza 2), opens today, Friday, September 26, 2014 in the U.S. and Canada. This South Korean gambling saga is a follow-up to the 2006 box office hit Tazza: The High Rollers. Check your local listings or click here for more details including theaters and cities.

Tazza, it should be noted, is a Korean word that refers to "a person who is gifted at gambling." There are thirteen significant characters listed in the film's opening credits. The main character is Dae-gil, the nephew of Goni, who was the protagonist in the first movie. Goni is not present in The Hidden Card, but Yoo Hai-jin reprises his role as Gwang-ryeol, a friend of Goni's. At the beginning of The Hidden Card, he brings money from Goni to his family.

Dae-gil (left) and Mina in their hometown

HAM Dea-gil is portrayed as a young adult by CHOI Seung-hyun. CHOI is also known as T.O.P of the South Korean boy band BIG BANG; he also starred as a North Korean spy in the film Commitment). Like his uncle Goni, Dae-gil develops great skill as a card player.

His true love is Mina (SHIN Sae-kyeong). After an altercation with Ghost (KIM Jun-ho), who'd threatened his uncle over a debt, Dae-gil has to leave his hometown. But he vows to reunite with Mina. Dae-gil goes to Seoul, where he meets up with Jjari (LEE Dong-hwi), a hometown friend who now goes by the name Charlie. Jjari introduces Dae-gil to the Seoul gambling underground where his skills promptly find employment.

It is in Seoul that Dae-gil and Mina eventually find one another, but under vastly changed circumstances. Mina has become the mistress and virtual possession of JANG Dong-shik (GWAK Do-won). JANG is the main villain in the world of professional gamblers, where alliances, partnerships, and friendships are always subject to betrayal. It is just such a betrayal that causes Dae-gil to lose everything to JANG. Dae-gil then embarks on a course that he hopes will lead to revenge against JANG and to a permanent reunion with Mina.

Dae-gil and Mina face each other across a gambling table

Tazza: The Hidden Card is directed by KANG Hyeong-cheol. His first two films, Scandal Makers (2008) and Sunny (2011) were the highest grossing Korean films of their respective years. He's done a fine job once again, especially in keeping it pretty clear just who is who and what's going on in a complicated story involving many characters and lots of back-stabbing.

Watching, enjoying and appreciating Tazza: The Hidden Card is in no way dependent on having seen the original. The sequel works quite satisfactorily as a stand-alone. But I do think that the experience is enhanced if one has already seen Tazza: The High Rollers. Fortunately, that film is available both on Blu-ray and as a Two-Disc Special Edition DVD. (Given the Amazon prices at the time of this posting, $49.77 for the Blu-ray and $27.98 for the 2-disc DVD, I'd say go with the DVD unless you've got money to burn. I reviewed and still have the DVD and am perfectly happy with it.)

AsianCineFest Rating for Tazza: The Hidden Card: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended.

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