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Tazza: The High Rollers(2006)
An impulsive young man gets caught up in the world of seotta, a form of gambling using cards. After taking an apprenticeship under an older card master, he gets drawn into the society of high-stakes gambling.
For more about Tazza: The High Rollers and the Tazza: The High Rollers Blu-ray release, see Tazza: The High Rollers Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on February 25, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Cho Seung-Woo, Baek Yun-shik, Kim Hye-su, Yoo Hae-jin
Director: Choi Dong-hun
» See full cast & crew
Tazza: The High Rollers Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, February 25, 2010
Winner of the Best Director award at the Newport Beach Film Festival, Choi Dong-hun's "Tajja" a.k.a "Tazza: The High Rollers" (2006) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of South Korean distributors CJ Entertainment. The disc contains a number of supplemental features, but unfortunately they are not subtitled in English. The main feature is. Region-Free.
Tazza: The High Rollers did two things for me. First, it solidified my belief that American distributors know very little about the Asian film market; thus they routinely miss on great films that would do very well here. Second, it introduced me to Kim Hye-su, a stunningly beautiful Korean actress, whose future projects I will be following closely (I already did some research on My Eleventh Mother and think that it looks terrific).
The story of Tazza: The High Rollers revolves around a group of gamblers, each with a murky past. Goni (Cho Seung-woo, Chunhyang), a 20-something amateur, loves playing cards. Unfortunately, he never wins. To make up for his loses, he steals his sister's savings but almost immediately blows them. Devastated, he approaches a retired gambler, Gyeong-jang (Baek Yun-shik, The President's Last Bang), and begs him to teach him how to win. The old man agrees, but asks Goni to promise that once he earns back what he has lost, he would never gamble again.
Fast-forward. Goni is ready to win back his sister's savings. Together with Gyeong-jang, he heads to the big city where the big games are. However, the big city is also where all the big sharks are - and many of them are much better players than Goni.
Gyeong-jang introduces Goni to the beautiful Madam Jung (Kim Hye-su, The Red Shoes), an old friend, who has a number of gamblers working for her. For a small fee, she agrees to set up a game for Goni where he would win enough to pay back his sister. She also ends up in Goni's hotel room where the two quickly discover that they have a lot in common - especially when it comes to making love. Before Madam Jung leaves, she casually asks Goni if he would be interested in working for her.
The game goes well and Goni wins a lot. So much, in fact, that at the end of the day he accepts Madam Jung's offer. Disappointed with his decision, Gyeong-jang urges Goni to cut one of his fingers. It is the only way, he explains, to stay out of trouble. If Goni can't play cards, then he can't lose. But the sultry Madam Jung and the bright lights of the big city prove a lot more appealing, and Goni heads back to the gambling parlors.
Things quickly get out of control. Someone kills Gyeong-jang, Goni falls for another girl (Lee Su-kyeong, Rainbow Eyes), and Madam Jung decides to teach her lover a lesson he would never forget. Meanwhile, a few of the big sharks Goni has won money from decide to shake things up and take back what once belonged to them. Upon learning that Goni is Gyeong-jang's protégé, an old foe of his appears, and also goes after the young gambler.
Tazza: The High Rollers is a wild, unpretentious and genuinely entertaining film I guarantee you would fall in love with. Parts of it are surprisingly dark - especially the few scenes where the cheaters get punished - but this makes it look even more stylish. I particularly liked the final twenty or so minutes of the film as I could not tell where things were heading.
The film is divided into chapters, each teaching the audience a lesson in gambling. Don't do this, don't do that, this is when one must stop, this is where one must bluff, this is how one should recognize a bluff, etc. More importantly, the acting is so strong, a lot of these lessons are actually quite convincing. With other words, an aspiring gambler could probably learn a few things from Tazza: The High Rollers.
The leads are exceptional. Whether acting as a provincial loser or confident pro, Cho Seung-woo is on fire. Korean veteran Baek Yun-shik's contribution is also excellent. The show, however, belongs to Kim Hye-su, a stunningly beautiful actress who can inspire any man to dream impossible dreams.
Tazza: The High Rollers Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Choi Dong-hun's Tazza: The High Rollers arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of South Korean distributors CJ Entertainment.
This is a beautiful high-definition transfer. Fine object detail is very impressive, clarity fantastic and contrast levels consistent throughout the entire film. The color-scheme is rather unique, with yellow and light green being the two preferred by director Choi Dong-hun colors. Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are not an issue of concern. Neither is digital noise. I also did not detect any signs of excessive noise filtering. On the contrary, the film looks sharp and notably healthy. There are no stability issues to report in this review either. Finally, I did not detect any annoying flecks, debris, cuts, or stains. All in all, this is a very impressive presentation that should meet the quality expectations of even the most demanding amongst you. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
Tazza: The High Rollers Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, CJ Entertainment have provided optional English and Korean SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is solid. The surround channels are not overly active, but there are many excellent ambient effects that add a nice flavor to the film. The bass is potent, but, again, do not expect it to test the muscles of your audio system. The dialog is crisp, clear and very easy to follow. There are no balance issues with Jang Yeong-gyu's music score either. Finally, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, or hissings to report in this review. To sum it all up, the Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is as good as it could possibly be, and I am absolutely certain that you would be very pleased with it. (Note: The main menu is entirely in Korean and therefore somewhat difficult to navigate).
Tazza: The High Rollers Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: I would like to apologize to our readers for not being able to comment on the supplemental features included on this Blu-ray disc. Unfortunately, they are all listed in Korean and not subtitled in English. Even the names of the participants in the second audio commentary are listed in Korean only.
Rules of Gambling - all ten rules/chapters are accessible through this features.
Audio commentary - an audio commentary with the director of the film.
Audio commentary - a second audio commentary with multiple participants.
Deleted and Alternate Scenes -
Making of Documentary -
Tazza: The High Rollers Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
What a pleasant surprise! Choi Dong-hun's Tazza: The High Rollers could very well turn out to be the best Korean film to reach my desk since Kim Ki-duk's 3-Iron. I am yet to see Bong Joon-ho's Mother though, so I reserve the right to change my mind. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, courtesy of CJ Entertainment, looks and sounds fantastic. The packaging is also very elegant. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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