HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Apartment 1BR
1776
Parasite
Looking On the Bright Side
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Simon
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Angelfish
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Convoy
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Rabid
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Ema
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Demonwarp
Man Who Killed Don Quixote, The
Chloe
   
 
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
   
 
  Card Player, The
Year: 2004
Director: Dario Argento
Stars: Stefania Rocca, Liam Cunningham, Claudio Santamaria, Antonio Cantafora, Silvio Muccino, Fiore Argento, Cosimo Fusco, Jennifer Poli
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: The Card Player may well turn out to be Dario Argento's most commercially accessible film but it also continues the downwards spiral that began with Trauma and continued to this, his latest effort.

The setting is Rome where a serial killer is abducting young women and engaging police in high stakes games of poker, via an internet chat room. The rules are simple: 5 hands, first one to win 3 is the victor. If the police win, the woman is released, if they lose....

Italian detective Anna Mari (Stefania Rocca, who almost shares the name used by Asia Argento in The Stendhal Syndrome) is ordered by superiors to play for the Polizia but is forced to watch the victim die following a change of heart by her chief: "We can't get involved in blackmail, we're the police."

When a second woman is kidnapped, the police decide to play, sending a young cop into the line of fire with the aim of securing her release. As a young card sharp enters the fray, Mari forms an unlikely alliance with abrasive Irish cop John Brennan (Liam Cunningham), who was despatched to Rome with a brief to protect vulnerable tourists. During their endeavours, a 3rd woman is snatched and her identity brings matters a lot closer to home.

Those unfamiliar with Argento's previous work may find much to enthuse over here. They will probably enjoy the various plot machinations, complete with numerous red herrings, and find the deadly poker games to be an enthralling part of the killer's cat-and-mouse tactics which culminate on a railway track. There's also a gruesome shock scene to contend with; a tense moment where Mari catches sight of the killer by a most unsual line of vision and a nifty sequence where a web cam comes adrift, giving us a different and most unwelcome viewing angle.

It sounds a busy little number, but in reality, The Card Player sees Argento trading on former glories with nods to Deep Red, Tenebrae and The Stendhal Syndrome. Sad to say, the thematic and visual references are pale shadows of his previous work and do nothing to restore his reputation as a master of horror cinema. Even worse, the killer's identity is painfully obvious before the film has even reached the half-hour mark (in truth, it's a good deal sooner than that). Consequently, the 'shattering truth' concerning those life and death games come as no surprise whatsoever. Granted, Rocca and Cunnignham both provide sold lead characters but they are gradually diminished by a combination of a below average script and lacklustre (often downright clumsy) direction; Rocca, in particular, losing some credibility when she's asked to take part in a laughable finale straight out of a Buster Keaton film: cover your ears when she takes a cell call right at the end of the film - words fail me.....

Those of you who enjoyed the film and own the Region 2 Czech DVD will be interested to to learn that Arrow Films will release The Card Player in the UK on 15th November. A comparison between the two discs shows both parties have used the same transfer whicjh looks marvellous with strong colours, accurate fleshtones and wonderfully deep blacks. The Arrow disc does include a featurette (which is disabled on my review copy) whilst the Czech DVD includes a few trailers.

So, where does Argento go from here? Well, it appears that he's now prepared to end years of speculation and finally work on the final instalment of 'The Three Mothers' trilogy. Current form may suggest this is not a wise move, but it would be nice to think he has at least one more great film left in him. It would also be a major boost if Argento secures the involvement of Daria Nicoldi in this project. She may just save his career!
Reviewer: Steve Langton

 

This review has been viewed 7003 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Dario Argento  (1940 - )

Italian horror maestro who began his film career as a critic, before moving into the world of screenwriting, collaborating most notably with Sergio Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci on the script of Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West (1968). Argento's first film as director, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) set the template for much of his subsequent work - inventive camerawork, sly wit, violent murder set-pieces, and a convoluted whodunnit murder plot. He perfected his art in this genre with Deep Red in 1975, before proceeding to direct the terrifying Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980), the first two parts of a loose trilogy of supernatural chillers that were finally completed with Mother of Tears in 2007.

Since then, Argento has pretty much stuck to what he knows best, sometimes successfully with Tenebrae and Opera, sometimes, usually in the latter half of his career, less so (Trauma, Sleepless, Dracula), but always with a sense of malicious style.

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: