The premise is nothing but pure intensity. A man loses his sister’s alimony payments by being swindled by professional card players. With nothing left to lose, he goes on a rampage that gets him the attention of other significant players in the story. In a Kill Bill-esque twist, the man spends several months training with an old master of sleight-of-hand, preparing for a swindle of his own, one that would allow him to get his money back. He manages to pull it off, lose the money, get it back, and lose it again – obviously a metaphor for how these games work in the real world. The film is fueled by well-acted drama and comedy, intense action sequences, and the unbeatable pairing of Kim Hye-soo and Cho Seung-woo.
Tazza is definitely a roller coaster ride, albeit a rather long one – two and a half hours long to be exact. And you’ll actually feel it being that long. Not that it’s a boring movie – it’s definitely not, there’s just too much downtime in between the many set piece sequences. Despite the tendency to slowdown in the middle, Tazza is still a solid two and a half hours of action-packed entertainment. A must-see classic, especially for fans and students of multi-genre, casino-themed cinema.
The popularity of casino films is no coincidence in Asia where the casino industry has been booming for decades. Tazza is just one of the many casino-themed Asian movies released between the latter end of the 20th century and today, a list that includes classics like 1989’s Casino Raiders and 2015’s From Vegas to Macau. This popularity of casinos in Asian cinema is in fact a direct reflection of the popularity of the casino industry itself in the entire region.
Macau and Singapore are internationally known for having some of the most luxurious, high-stakes casinos in the world. Vietnam has a booming casino industry that is growing.
In the last couple of decades, the casino theme has been rocked and remixed in cinemas countless times. Tazza isn’t exactly original, but it’s a modern noir film that looks and sounds good. It’s simply South Korea taking the style and aesthetic of the casino theme to its peak. An awesome movie for capping off a fun and lazy weekend.