A guy with a talent for cards makes his way into the dangerous world of underground gambling in this crime thriller from South Korea. Go-ni (Jo Seung-woo) is a small-town guy with a big ...
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A guy with a talent for cards makes his way into the dangerous world of underground gambling in this crime thriller from South Korea. Go-ni (Jo Seung-woo) is a small-town guy with a big appetite for gambling. Convinced he?s on a hot streak one evening during a card game, Go-ni bets his life savings on a hand of hwatu, only to lose to a crooked cardsharp. Determined to get revenge, Go-ni sets out to find the guy who cheated him and win back his money. But nothing is as it seems down the road.Written by
Hong Kong gambling flicks go in and out of fashion, but the genre is relatively new in South Korean cinema, and TAJJA can be extraordinarily entertaining.
TAJJA has style to burn, and from the very start, there's flashbacks, split-screens, hyperbolic action, and the expected doses of melodrama in the story of a young gambler's rise to fame. Most intriguing of all is the Korean card game that frames the action - a game that attracts die-hard gamblers and a small group of cheats who live off the system. As such, this often feels like THE STING, but with a more brutal core. The narrative is set out in a series of "lessons" any prospective gambler must learn; with each lesson, the risks become increasingly challenging.
The narrative almost manages to support a love story, though there's no room in a gambler's heart for true love. The energy of the narrative is matched by the plot's daunting complexity, but the film journeys into surprising areas. It's safe to say that TAJJA will inspire many more gambling features, though it would be hard to surpass the originality and style of this film.
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