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The Card Player
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The Card Player (2004)

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Plot Summary:
"A Rome policewoman teams up with a British Interpool agent to find a crafty serial killer whom plays a taunting game of cat-and-mouse with the police by abducting and killing young women and showing it over an Internet web cam."

Review by
Phil Davies Brown
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Review Date: 24 July 2006 My Rating: out of 5


Dario Argento's latest movie sees the Italian police embark on a twisted set of internet card games with the titular villain.

The Card Player kidnaps young women and then forces the cops to play for the victims lives, broadcasting their deaths over the internet if the police lose.

The premise is a good one and the locations are fantastic with the aesthetics being the strongest features here.

The cast are so-so but the terrible dubbing job detracted from what were already some questionable acting jobs.

The main highlight here is an overhead sequence where the female lead fights the antagonist in her apartment.

Argento may have lost his touch if this is anything to go by.

Reviewer: Steven Davies @braindeadsteve
Location:Luton, UK
Review Date: 22 August 2005 My Rating: out of 5

Dario Argento's most recent movie Il Cartaio (The Card Player) makes it on to U.S DVD on Tuesday 23rd August. Marked up with the usual 'legendary creator of Suspiria' and 'master of horror' tags this latest Argento release would surely get followers and fans of his work wetter than an otter's pocket. However this latest exploration into more subtle shocks and less kaleidoscopic visual style may not be welcomed as open armed as one would expect.

A serial killer using an online poker game challenges local police into determining the life or death of his victims. Every hand they lose the victim gets mutilated. Lose 5 and the victim loses thier lives. Harsh stakes. An Italian detective played by Stefania Rocca, and an Irish forensics expert played by Dog Soldiers' Liam Cunningham take to sieving through the clues in order to nab their psychotic.

A different kind of premise to more Argento-esque renown projects but nevertheless a refreshingly different approach to a more crime thriller genre than horror. But the question is it a bold and exciting new move for Dario or a monumental misjudgement? Well, a bit of both really. Its nice to see an alternatively paced thriller such as this from such a highly respected horror director but for me it just wasn't enough.

With the vast overbearing quality that TV has these days, spinning out fantastically interesting, different and more often than not incredibally addictive shows such as '24', 'CSI', 'The Sopranos', and the more recent ABC offering 'Lost', it's clear to see that there is so much great compelling action and drama on the box now that going to the cinema, or even renting a DVD has to have a little extra in store.

Unfortunately this story is something that would probably work fantastically on an episode of CSI or even the BBC drama Silent Witness but struggles to fill out over 100 minutes of celluloid entertainment.

It just wasn't holding my interest enough. It seemed quite dull, and I hope it wasn't because of my false expectations, but I was just losing interest all the way through. Maybe it is my crime drama forensic storyline soaked TV brain that makes this feel a little outdated and a little too plain.

The acting for The Card Player was adequate for the purpose but I couldn't get past the amalgamation of accents used. The music also held its own. However, the story as a whole, the oddly simplistic styled poker game graphics and gameplay. And personally I had a real gripe with the rudimentary presented language and techniques used in the process of tracking the killer over the web. I'm hopeful that Argento will be back to his best with the upcoming Masters of Horror TV series.

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