Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tazza: The High Rollers (타짜/Tajja -2006)

Seung-woo Cho ... Go-ni
Yun-shik Baek ... Pyung Gyung-jang
Hye-su Kim ... Madam Jung
Dong-hun Choi
Jong-ryol Choi
Yeong-min Ha
Sang-geon Jo
Jin-mo Ju
In-gi Jeong
Eung-su Kim ... Kwak
Jeong-nan Kim ... Se-ran
Kang-woo Kim
Kwang-gyu Kim
Kyeong-ik Kim
Sang-ho Kim
Yun-seok Kim
Tae-won Kwon
Jae-gu Lee
Su-kyeong Lee ... Hwa-ran
Jeong-eun Lim
Hae-jin Yu

Tazza: The High Rollers is director Dong-Hun Choi's glitzy, fast-paced spin on a popular comic book about Korea's gambling subculture and its assorted denizens, replete with an innocent all too eager to be corrupted, his wise mentor and the no-good woman whose main occupation is betrayal. All the familiar pieces are there but the filmmaker upends them, refreshing the conventions of crime/con films and turning his material into something of an epic journey where everyone appears to be interconnected. Tazza kicks off with a creative and virtuosic use of split-screen to showcase a game of hwatu, a card-playing session. In this tour-de-force sequence, the overlapping images are shuffled breathlessly like a deck of cards. The young hero, Goni, loses his money to a tazza, a high roller, and throws himself into a search of gambling dens to find the player who took his money. Along the way he meets the veteran tazza, Pyoung, who teaches him the tricks of the trade, and the formidable Madam Jung (the fabulous, scene-stealing Kim Hae Soo), a classic femme fatale who lures foolish men into losing games. In keeping with the material, the film looks like it's been backlit with neon, a touch that contrasts brilliantly with occasional monochromatic imagery.

That was a pretty good movie. I wasn't really going to watch it but Cho Seung Woo was cast as the lead and damn if he didn't impress me in the Classic and Marathon. So I broke down even though the synopsis wasn't my thing.

I was pleasantly surprised and amazed at how smooth and well the movie flowed. I love me a good Texas Hold'em so the game they played sort of reminded me of it. Maybe it's the same thing. Not sure.

It was really hard to see Seung-woo cast as a tough and rugged kind of guy since all the movies I've seen him in have been sweet and innocent characters. And dang if he didn't look good. I really like this guy. He's an amazing actor with major abilities in changing his character. Marathon was probably the best because playing an autistic person has got to be emotionally draining to do.

This was a fun movie. Oh, and hey......he was naked! Great butt shots. LOL!

Cho Seung Woo
Cho Seung WooCho Seung Woo

Ju Jin Mo

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