Gambling drama Tazza: The Hidden Card situates itself close to the Ocean’s franchise in terms of how high/low it raises narrative stakes, so the fact that Kang Hyeong-cheol thinks his film closer to Casino makes its 147-minute runtime uneven, to say the least.
“Money is king,” we’re told early on about this world by our protagonist, Dae-gil, and “the better player rules.” Flashbacks to his youth assure us that Dae-gil’s gambling acuity is essentially innate. As tends to be the case in movies of this sort, Tazza is predicated on the notion that the entire enterprise of high-stakes betting is intrinsically cool, glamorous, and sexy; fat stacks of cash and beautiful women are but a few of the material pleasures that come with being good at cards.
Since there’s no rise without a fall, custom dictates that we also be reminded of how dangerous this particular underworld ends up being. This lesson culminates in a life-or-death game in which gun- and ax-wielding henchmen await anyone caught cheating, and all are forced to play in their underwear lest they conceal anything under their clothes.
Millions of dollars are tossed around like Monopoly money, and there’s a good chance you’ll consider the assembled players as disposable as the kingpin who organized the game does.