By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
One of the plusses of this not-actually-a-job is that after several years in the biz you start getting inundated with emails offering screeners and interviews for practically every VOD or limited release movie in need of a little push. While that means an awful lot of horror starring D-listers, it can also mean international films looking to get a foothold in the States. Particularly whenever a Korean movie gets offered up, I’m on board.
You can keep your superheroes- movies like this are what get me off… errr… on the couch.
Tazza: One Eyed Jack is the third film in the Tazza quasi-franchise (based on a manga series of tangentially-related stories about illegal high-stakes gambling). In it, a young card shark whose father was a legend in his own right is humiliated by a sadistic gambler. He’s recruited and trained by another mysterious con man to do a team job on a corrupt local politician, but all is not as it appears.
Tazza: One Eyed Jack is a well-shot gambling & con-artist film, as slick or slicker than any comparable Hollywood film with some additional DNA for the series of an Ocean’s Eleven-like caper, even if the cast obviously isn’t stacked in the same way. The film entertainingly leaps from game to con to game, with some pretty unexpected twists and turns to propel the action forward despite it following the same basic template of the series.
The cast is strong across the board as well, but I particularly liked the enigmatic supporting performance by Ryu Seung-bum as the one-eyed jack of the title- the con man/mentor/literal one-eyed badass always cuts a striking figure.
Tazza 3 is less cheesy and melodramatic and definitely more polished than the first film of the series, but also has a lot less character (no 70s Hong Kong-style whip pans here). This less idiosyncratic approach is also telegraphed by the move from the traditional Korean card game of hwatu to poker (5 card stud instead of the ever-present Texas hold’em here). Concessions made to a more homogeneous audience, or perhaps just wishes for one.
Because this choice has aged so well.
That’s not to say it isn’t at all cheesy or melodramatic. One Eyed Jack displays the same series obsession with cutting off hands and general maiming that apparently is an inevitability if you choose the life of a gambler. The body count for this series of movies about card games is surprisingly quite large.
Tazza: One Eyed Jack is a polished gambling/con film with a twisty plot and engaging performances that is bound to please any fans of the genre.
Tazza: One Eyed Jack (2019) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever we see stacks of cash
Take a Drink: for every card game
Take a Drink: for every missing (or imminently missing) body part
Take a Drink: whenever a character smokes
Do a Shot: every time someone is beat to hell