Tazza: The Hidden Card / Tazza 2 타짜-신의 손 (2014) Korean Movie Review

Let’s just have one movie at a time.

Tazza 2 타짜-신의 손 (2014) KMovie Review

Also known as #Tazza: The Hidden Card


Hello. This is AKIA talking from Korean. Today, as my first movie since returning back to the land of concrete apartment complexes and a sea of neon signs that could light up a state in America, I saw the sequel to the gambling movie “Tazza”. It is titled somewhat generically as “Tazza 2”.


Trailer

Introduction
Korea has never been fully on board the sequel train unlike Hollywood. The current situation reminds me of the 70s and 80s Hollywood scene in which sequels were either lessor ‘Carbon’ copies of the previous movie or just a totally different movie with just the brand name pasted on to it.  “Tazza 2” is more close to the latter case as it is nowhere near similar to the first movie.

My memories of the first “Tazza” movie is rather vague at this point. It came out almost a decade ago and that was even before I crossed the sea of peace to stand on the soil of the “Great bacon” land.

The bacon in Korea is not great.

So, you cannot blame me for this since I have literally seen more than a thousand movies since then. What I can recall about the movie is that it was a straight forward gambling movie with some heist movie elements. While it was a big hit in Korea at the time, I recall thinking it was so-so as a movie. The biggest impact that movie had on me is that it showed boobs of an actress who were well known for her god given gifts at the time.

What?
I am a man.


Even so, considering that it was not the first time I saw them, they did not really stay in my mind.

I mean the boobs.
Not the movie… well…

In regards to the movie, I filed it as a not bad attempt to imitate and reproduce Hollywood movies from the past.

What can I say, I am a Hollywood kid.
 I am rather biased. I should go back and rewatch the first movie.
It may be better know.

The sequel.
Separate from my fading opinions of the first movie, I do know that it had a rather classic structure for the kind of movie it was. The sequel, “Tazza 2”, is rather different. I would have to say it is more like a hybrid between the classic “Con” movie , “The Sting”, and the “Sin city” movies. Either one of the latter would do since they are very similar.

Let’s first talk about “Con” movie elements of the movie.

While the main subject matter of the movie is gambling, it is difficult to say that it is a gambling movie. A gambling movie, in part, has similarities to a sports movie as there are rules to the competition that are at least minimally adhered to. In “Tazza 2”, this does not exist since every single player is cheating in the movie. I do not mean mind games or counting cards. I mean card swapping type cheating. As a result, you do not actually need to know what the rules of the games are. This does work in the movie’s favor since the movie does not bother to tell the audience the rules. To us, who do not play the game, it is just technabable. This makes the movie feel like a “Con” movie since you win the game and thus the movie by successfully pulling a con and not by actually winning the game.

Structurally, “Tazza 2”, rather than being one solid narrative like the first movie, it is more of a series of episodes loosely tied into a single narrative. There is a rise and fall episode. There is a buddy/melodrama episode. There is a caper/revenge episode. And finally, there is an action/gangster episode.


In essence, the movie feels like a 4 episode  miniseries rather than a cohesive movie. This is not surprising considering the source material. As a result, it feels similar to the “Sin City” movies which take a similar approach to adapting the source material. What is different is that “Tazza 2”, at least, has the same protagonist and the episodes are laid out in sequential order and in relation to the protagisinst’s predicament.  The order of the episodes the “Sin City” movies are rather unclear.

The Issues
And this element of the movie is the biggest fault of it. Not only is there not enough cohesive narrative focus to the movie but the following fact make the rhythm of the movie feel off. Every episode in the movie has its own vague 3 act structure as can be seen in an episodic television show.  As a viewer, this means that you go through a similar emotional journey 4 times during the 147 minute run time. While this may work for weekly TV shows, for a movie, this creates an increasing sense of repetitiveness even though each episode is pretty different from each other.
Shin Sekyung
After the second or third episode, you simply stop caring for what happens to the protagonists. Imagine, binge watching 4 episodes of a show at one sitting. After a point, you simply want to turn off Netflix and go to bed. It also does not help that each episode is more over the top than the previous one and thus the size of gap in the plot increases concurrently. You end up walking out of the movie at the end just frustrated. It would be somewhat more tolerable if our protagonists were interesting. However, the two protagonists played by T.O.P. and “Shin Sekyung” are the most empty characters in the movie. Neither of the characters have much personality or even personal traits. At least, Shin Sekyung’s character has somewhat of an emotional  journey. T.O.P. is just the same throughout the movie.
T.O.P.

The Good
This is rather a shame since none of the episodes are terrible on their own. On average, the episodes are at least fun. Most of the problems with the individual episodes come from the lack of character development which maybe fine for an episode of a 30 minute TV show. However, the sum of all the character development from each episode does not meet the requirement of a movie. This would be less of a problem if the movie had a strong narrative focus as with most Hollywood action movies nowadays. With “Tazza 2”, the disjointed narrative structure reveals more of its weakness rather than hiding it.

In regard to the direction, the director seems very technically competent. In general, the movie is very visually stylistic. There are a lot of complex visual scenes that require a lot of preparations and tight editing. And the director and editor seem to pull them off beautifully. However, I do not think that all of that visual style enhanced the narrative. Rather, it does seem that the director is showing off occasionally. I mean having more than 5 montages in a movie says something about the director.
Shin Se‑kyung

However, I can say that the director knows how to direct actors since this is the least case that “Shin Sekyung” felt reminiscent of the brick of wood. She still can’t act but the director used her sparingly and to her strong points.

 I mean her face, her chest and her nether region.
There is a single bare behind shot in the movie that was rather underwhelming.
Some nice cleavage shots do help with the disappointment.

This is the same for T.O.P. He has charm but cannot act. It is a testament to the director’s ability to work with actors that the two leads do not suck in this movie. It also helps that, comparted to other actors, both our protagonists have the lowest ratio of dialogue to screen time in the movie for a main cast member.  I cannot say that the director is the “Steven Soderbergh” of Korea in terms of his ability to make actors, who cannot act, look less bad on screen. However, he is good.

Remember "Out of Sight" (1998) and Jennifer Lopez?


At the End.
“Tazza 2” is nowhere near a bad movie. It has a lot of talent on screen and behind of the camera. I do not mean the main protagonists though. However, the initial concept is flawed and drags the movie down to almost capsizing depth. In order for the episodic approach of the movie to work, there is a need for stronger emotional anchor but the protagonists are too empty as characters to perform that function. Without either an emotional anchor or a strong driving narrative, the movie is becomes repetitive fast and the 147 minute run time does not help this.

So, I give it a B-. It not bad but somewhat difficult to recommend.


Score:  B-  or  6/10


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Amazon DVD of Original Movie


Amazon Blu ray  of Original Movie

Amazon CD  of Tazza: The Hidden Card / Tazza 2 타짜-신의 손 (2014) OST

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Reviewer: AKIA Talking

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The pictures and video used in this review are done for criticism purposes and are the properties of those copyright holders. This is review is mine.
Copyright@AKIA Talking

2 comments:

  1. hello~ i just found this site and start reading one by one lol~
    i wanna ask something, was this movie considered a big hit in korea? (the same question goes to the criminal designer movie)...i mean, both movies got > 2,5 mil viewers, but were they really successful at least reaching their break even point?

    e.g if a movie surpassed those points which are considered as successful : 1.5 million movie goers for rom-com genre and 4 million movie goers for action/heavy genre or 6 million movie goers for blockbuster movies....wondering if most of the movies so far which didn’t surpassed the basic point of each genre (in public eyes) were all flopped indeed?

    haha i'm sorry if i'm confusing u, i hope u got what i mean....pardon my bad english haha....thank you in advance~

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    Replies
    1. In total, this movie grossed $32 million with a total budget of $10million. About 35-40% of that goes to the studio. So... I think that the total profit is around $7million.

      In case of Miss grany, it grossed $62 million with a budget of less than $5 million. The breakeven point for the movie is a little over $10 million. So.... about $30 million profit.

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