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The Card Player (2004)

DVD Cover (Anchor Bay)
Genres:
Giallo, Horror, Police Detective Film
Director:
Dario Argento Dario Argento
Starring:
Stefania Rocca Stefania Rocca
Liam Cunningham Liam Cunningham
Silvio Muccino Silvio Muccino
Adalberto Maria Merli Adalberto Maria Merli
Claudio Santamaria Claudio Santamaria

4.9 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Policewoman Anna Mari is forced to play a dangerous game with the title serial killer. If she loses, she witnesses the maniac's tortured victims having their throats cut in explicit close-up detail via webcam. She teams up with British cop John Brennan to find out the identity of the murderer. --IMDb
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Review by Nirrad
Added: July 09, 2008
Having been completely disappointed with the last movie I watched by Argento, I was hoping that the next movie would be better. Sure enough it was. "The Card Player" is not your typical Argento film; in fact, you would never have known that he was the director. But that isn't a bad thing as Argento still delivers with this simple, yet interesting movie.

Anna (Stefania Rocca) is working a usual day at the police station when she suddenly receives a mysterious email. As she reads the email, it tells her that a woman is being held, and she will be killed unless the police play a game of poker. If the police win, she will be set free, but if they lose she dies. Anna immediately prints the message and a picture of the girl and they immediately find out that is was the missing British woman they have been searching for. Anna wants to play the card player, but the chief disagrees with the idea as they should not give in to the ransom. Anna eventually logs in and they see the British woman tied up on a webcam. Anna argues with her chief on whether or not they should play, but they take too much time deciding and the card player kills the woman on the spot over the webcam. John (Liam Cunningham) an Irish cop arrives to help solve the case. They find the body in a near by canal, and since John specializes in forensics, he searches the dead body. He eventually finds a seed lodged in the woman's nostrils. Anna receives another email to play yet another poker game. This time they agree to play, and they set up tracking devices. They try to play for as long as they can so that they are able to track down an IP address to use for the location of the card player. Unfortunately, they are being blocked and cannot receive that information, at least not at this time. Everyone is hesitant to play due to the high stakes, but Carlo (Claudio Santamaria) decides to step in as he is familiar with poker. He tries his best but is ultimately beaten by the card player and another woman is killed over the webcam. Days later they find her body dumped away, and John finds yet another seed stuck inside the woman. They decide to recruit a hot shot poker player who seems to win most of the time. But when he realizes what he's playing for, his starts to become hesitant and unsure of himself. Remo (Silvio Muccino) decides to loosen up, and play the card player.

I found this movie to be entertaining and enjoyable. The film immediately picks up within minutes and doesn't stop. For the whole hour and forty minutes I was thoroughly entertained. The movie has some great sequences that build up suspense. Anna gets attacked in her own home and it is probably one of the best sequences in the movie. The best of course is the ending. I thought it was such a great idea, and is pulled off well. This is the first Argento film where I thought everyone did a great job with acting. Johns' character was especially enjoyable as your typical hot head cop, and you just have to love that Irish accent.

If you're looking for gore, then look else where. Besides one particular death, there is hardly any what so ever. Although the forensic scenes with the dead bodies can be a little disgusting at times but other than that, zilch. But don't let that keep you away from watching the movie; you will still appreciate what it has.

Just to let you know, this movie is not a horror movie. It's more of a crime movie, ala CSI episodes. That's exactly what I kept thinking of when watching this movie. But since I'm a fan of the show CSI, I thought it was great. That being said, it really isn't scary either. Argento seemed to have joined the bandwagon of using loud noises to scare the audience. But unfortunately for him, they didn't even give me a jolt, and I found myself laughing at the oddly placed sound effects. Lesson to all directors, these types of scenes do not scare the audience, only jolt them for a second, thus leaving us underwhelmed.

Like most Argento films I've seen, everything relies too much on coincidences. Everything just seems too perfect for the card player. People are in the right place at the right time, people make the perfect reaction as the card player predicts, etc. But I just reminded myself that I was watching a movie, and these issues were easily ignored. Although some of the poker games seemed a bit unrealistic. I enjoyed the twist ending, I had an idea of who he was, but Argento distracts you throughout the whole movie keeping you guessing until the end. There is a lot of controversy behind the ending. While watching it, it didn't make any sense to me. The problem has to due with two poker hands. I know how to play poker, and the outcome doesn't make any sense. But after thorough investigation, and posts from other users, I suppose it does. One of the twists didn't seem to make sense either. But after sitting down and thinking about it, you will eventually understand it. But the twist also falls victim to everything being too perfect, and you will be scratching your head on how exactly it was pulled off without complications.

Die hard Argento fans will probably not like this movie at all simply due to the fact that it doesn't feel like one of his films. I'm not a die hard fan, so I was able to enjoy it. Besides every outcome being too perfect, you will find an enjoyable movie. You will either like it, or hate it.

8/10.
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