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3.2 out of 5 stars21
3.2 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2005
The latest offering from Italian shock maestro Dario Argento is probably his most mainstream effort in years. Normally famed for his imaginative and grizzly death sequences and excellent camera techniques, this lower key thriller looses much of the director's panache but still gels with the usual nasty ideas and women in peril themes. I found the plot about a serial killer who forces the local Police to play internet poker games in return for the lives of his kidnapped prey, thoroughly entertaining, even though I found many moments not making much sense at all. The idea was sound, but the execution, as you may have already read, is flawed, yet still hints at the director's past glories, and still has the power to disturb.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
NB: For some reason known only to themselves, Amazon have lumped the reviews for completely different films with completely different titles together - something they'll only change of enough people email their help pages to complain. This review refers to both Do You Like Hitchcock and The Card Player, which are reviewed separately here.


Surprisingly, Argento's Italian TV movie Do You Like Hitchcock? is a welcome return to form despite one of the worst DVD covers of all time and a pretty blah pretitle sequence that has no relevance to the film beyond padding out the running time and establishing the hero's voyeurism. Splicing Rear Window and Strangers On a Train, originality isn't on the menu (unless you count the killer wearing white gloves instead of the usual black ones that feature in Argento's previous films: who says he's afraid to try something new?) but along with a strong narrative, a good visual sense and an effective score from Pino Donaggio, you can really feel the playful enthusiasm with this one (somewhat borne out by some backstage footage of Argento getting caught up in the shoot).

The plot makes a virtue of its familiarity: after seeing one of his neighbors and a stranger bond in a DVD store - which only stocks old movies, mostly Hitchcock, German Expressionism and the odd Argento (Dario and Asia) - over a copy of Strangers On a Train, our typically Hitchcockian mother-dominated voyeur's curiosity turns to suspicion that they may have been using it as a blueprint when the mother of one gets murdered. Mind you, I'd regard Elio Germano's lead with some suspicion himself if only because no self-respecting film student would watch silent German Expressionist classics in widescreen. From there on you can tick off the references - yes, our hero does end up with a broken leg while his girlfriend searches the killer's apartment, and yes, there is a Hitchcock blonde - but it's executed with some panache and a sense of fun that never descends into outright comedy.

Unfortunately although, as usual for Argento, the film was shot in English and while at least a couple of the cast are more than passable in the language, for some reason the whole thing has been redubbed in London by what sounds like rejects from a Clearasil commercial: a couple in particular are so strikingly inept that they'll almost have you cursing the invention of talking pictures. They obviously couldn't get the rights to use the soundtrack of Strangers On a Train either, leading to one hysterically awful bit of dubbing when our hero watches the film with his girlfriend. Despite these and some casting quibbles, the film is strong enough to overcome. It's no all-time great but it is a surprisingly satisfying giallo - you won't be surprised, but you probably will be entertained.


Without revealing the killer's identity, Dario Argento's latest misfire The Card Player actually climaxes with the villain chaining the heroine to a railway track where he forces her to play internet poker. Yep, as thrillers go this is a premise that needs to be seriously rethought.

The Card Player is another two steps back for Argento after showing signs of improvement in the flawed, very silly but nonetheless very stylish Sleepless. On one level it should be interesting that he has abandoned the gore and the stylistics for a much more subdued style, but in this case for subdued read disinterested hackwork. If you didn't know this was an Argento film, you could easily mistake it for any one of the hundreds of schlock killer thrillers you'll find on some basic cable channels at two in the morning. The plot is serviceable only as a framework for setpiece film-making - Stefania Rocca has to stop a serial killer from torturing and murdering women by playing for their lives in a series of internet poker games - but the trouble is that the guignol is nowhere near grand here, let alone grand enough, and Argento films it all with an astonishing lack of panache. The potentially spectacular death of one major character is handled with pedantic disinterest while the other killings are almost thrown away. Plot developments are all exactly as expected and all too easily predicted.

This wouldn't matter so much if the script were better constructed or the characters more interesting, but it's ticking boxes all the way. Heroine with a problem - cop whose father committed suicide over his poker debts: check. Hero with a problem - drunken Oirish cop exiled to the British embassy in Rome for killing a minor in a siege: check. Bit player who is so obviously suspicious it can't be him: check. Likable character whose death is supposed to be a big surprise but isn't: check. Etc, etc, etc. It's a tame, unimaginatively directed, not terribly well acted movie that plods along for two thirds of its running time before briefly threatening to pick up a head of steam but not quite managing it. Looking at it, you can't help feeling that the only reason Dario made it was because he was running behind on the alimony checks. It's watchable, but nothing more.

Not much in the way of extras, though it is advisabe to watch the featurettes AFTER seeing the feature as they reveal the killer's identity!

Not much in the way of extras on the original UK DVD release, though it is advisabe to watch the featurettes AFTER seeing the feature as they reveal the killer's identity! Also it's worth noting that although the new PAL release from Arrow includes both the English and Italian soundtracks, the Italian version on the initial run of this title has no English subtitles - if you get one of these, you can contact Arrow direct for a replacement with subtitles, but a lot of the unsubtitled copies are still out there.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2005
This is basically a competent Euro-thriller and nothing more. Argento has ditched all of the retro-giallo manoevres of Sleepless (which seemed to date that film beyond belief), and has made something which seems fresh. The crisp photography, the electro score by Simonetti and the very modern theme of the piece make this a very contemporary film. But.... there's something missing. The mystery isn't that strong, it's very hard to care about the characters (and Liam Cunningham's detective is one of the worst culprits, his acting is at times excruciating), and there are no set-pieces that stick in the mind (which even Phantom of the Opera had).
If Argento's name weren't on this film, it no doubt would have scored higher. He is to be applauded for trying (and for the most part, succeeding) to update his style - but unfortunately it's to the detriment to some of his flamboyance, and yes, even his cruelty.
Worth checking out once, but probably not worth buying.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2004
The Card Player (Il Cartaio) is an enjoyable thriller from master Dario Argento.
After the very good return to form that was Sleepless, this new thriller (I won't even call it Giallo) is an entertaining film but nothing more.
It's the most mainstream Argento, no gore, no special camera moves, weak photography by Benoit Debie (Irreversible)...
But despite these problems, The Card Player has many positif points: Claudio Simonetti's awesome score, very good actors (Rocca, Cunningham) and in some scenes are actually extremely good (Anna's house, Remo's chase, the poker games).
As a whole Argento's hardcore fans should definetly check this one, it's not a great film but you'll sure enjoy it.
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on 18 December 2011
As a fan of giallos, I thought I would check out Argento's 2004 serial killer thriller The Card Player set in Rome, despite reading a good share of negative reviews. British detective John Brennan (played by Ian Cunningham) teams up with Italian detective Anna Mari (played by Stefania Rocca) in what turns out to be a reasonably good effort by Argento where he manages a decent storyline, with some good death scenes without having to resort to loud noises and copious amounts of CGI to distress the viewer. The majority of the secondary cast unfortunately bring the film down a little and I'm sure whoever did the casting could've found more talented actors to fill in these roles. The storyline, whilst generally following a formulaic route, succeeds with an unexpected ending and the soundtrack is utilised very well (as always for Argento). This is far from Argento's best work, but it's better than the critics say and it's definately worthy of a look at least, especially if you're a fan of giallos. 3/5
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on 6 April 2012
From The Master Of Horror
Director Dario Argento (Tenebre, Inferno) returns to classic form with his vicious thriller about a serial killer who taunts police with online video poker. But for every round the cops lose, a kidnapped young girl is mutilated live via web cam. Now an Italian detective (Stefania Rocca of The Talented Mr. Ripley) and an Irish forensics expert (Liam Cunningham of Dog Soldiers) must race against time to trap a maniac. From computer screens to crime scenes, the games have begun. The stakes are murder. And the hunt is on for the psychopath known only as The Card Player.
It's a crime story that surpasses most other ones with its extreme atmosphere and camera-work
A VERY different kind of horror and storytelling for Dario Argento.
it is an Underrated gem and A very entertaining but also Riveting Thriller
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on 5 October 2011
OK lets get to the point, THE CARD PLAYER is in no way as good as Pre 90's Argento however dont let this put you off this is still a half decent offering from Argento, Yes you will hear the critics say Oh there wasnt as many primary colours ,Oh the murders were toned down so on and so forth the usual comments about recent Argento films, Argento is simply painting with a different brush nowadays, he doesnt have to better DEEP RED or SUSPERIA and we shouldnt expect him to however this is like a cross between CSI and other police shows on TV so though not origional this kept me entertained for the best part of 2 hours and I couldnt ask for more than that
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 4 August 2010
"The Card Player" is definitely a weaker Dario Argento film but it's still watchable and has some moments. The story of a policewoman and British Interpol agent who team up to find a sadistic killer who's taunting the police on the web. He abducts women and challengers the police to a game of poker and if they lose the woman is tortured and killed in front of them on the web cam.
Of course you would describe this a giallo but it's no where near as good as any of the directors others. It's a far less stylish affair than you would expect from Argento with none of his excellent stalking sequences we all know and love. Having said that some of the poker games do create some tension and the autopsy scenes are the most gruesome moments in the film. However, sadly in general it's a very bloodless effort and the photography and direction is no where near as good as you would imagine. The ending it must be said was absolutely awful and a total let down. There were some OK moments from time to time but in all so disappointing after the very good "Sleepless". Just about 3 Stars.
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on 30 August 2011
First off im a huge Argento fan,but even i had to ask myself why this film was so bad?The acting is terrible,stories awful and every shot looks like a first year film student has took it!It really is a bad film.Arrow who usually do a grand job of their discs have only included 2 short making off's but a complete Argento trailer fest is included lasting 39 mins.If your just starting off in the Argento realm leave this well alone and go for Deep Red or Tenebrae which are superb.Avoid this disc like the plague.
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on 8 April 2012
True this is not the Dario Argento that we are used too, however THE CARD PLAYER is a very good film. Decent story line that keeps you riveted to the story and not a boring moment in site. The ending is a letdown granted, but there is enough Argento moments and violence to keep fans happy. Harshly reviewed elsewhere, but this movie isn't as bad as some would make you think.
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