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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good and interesting effort from Dario
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...
Published on 8 April 2012 by Colonel Decker

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Argento but not as we know him
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...
Published on 18 Mar 2005 by Mr. C. Micklewright


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Argento but not as we know him, 18 Mar 2005
This review is from: The Card Player [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 29 April 2005
This review is from: The Card Player [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Argento's best but not a bad film too, 30 May 2004
By 
Antoine Waked - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Card Player [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One for Argento fans only, this is a very nice edition, 2 Jan 2013
This review is from: The Card Player [DVD] (DVD)
I love the Arrow Video editions because they usually give you great artwork, reversible sleeve, poster, short booklet and great picture and sound quality which this edition of course contains. However, there is a lack of special features in this with just a trailer reel and a short making of. It's more than you get on a lot of DVDs but in comparison to say the Arrow Video blu ray release of Inferno I was expecting a bit more.
The film itself, yes it is certainly one of Argento's weaker films but it is certainly not his worst. It has some nice scenes, some classic deaths and an always enjoyable Liam Cunningham. It is a thriller and part of the joy of most thrillers is trying to figure who the killer is while the director and writers create red herrings and twists and turns. Sadly, the reveal of who the killer is, is disappointing. To say why would be a spoiler so I won't. So as a thriller it's not great but fans of Argento should seek this out as it has some classic Argento moments, the bad english dub which has become part of the fun, the strange lighting, the gliding camera moves, the gruesome deaths, the great sound design and soundtrack are all in the great Argento style though not the best example of his style it is still very entertaining.
Overall, this is one for the Argento fans and the Arrow Video edition does look very cool on your shelf.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another bad deal from Dario and a very decent TV giallo (The Card Player and Do You like Hitchcock?), 20 Sep 2010
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Card Player [DVD] (DVD)
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.

DO YOU LIKE HITCHCOCK - 3/5

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.

THE CARD PLAYER - 2/5

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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Routine police thriller from the man we used to call ARGENTO!, 31 July 2007
This review is from: The Card Player [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
The Card Player is undoubtedly a minor work within the Dario Argento cannon - closer in tone to something like The Cat O' Nine Tails than the more celebrated likes of Suspiria - and a low-key precursor to his subsequent work for television; notably, Do You Like Hitchcock? and his two instalments for the Masters of Horror serial, Jennifer and Pelts. Like The Cat O' Nine Tails, the story of The Card Player takes on the usual Argento conventions of classic suspense cinema and the Giallo thrillers that would inform much of the filmmaker's greatest works - in particular The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Tenebrea and Profondo Rosso - but gives it a more smooth, sophisticated and mainstream approach that seems to avoid (for the most part at least) the various quirks, characteristics and personal idiosyncrasies that the majority of Argento fans have come to expect.

The plot at first seems preposterous; a mysterious serial killer invites members of the Rome police force to indulge him in an online poker contest. If they win, his latest victim will go free. If they loose, she will be murdered live on webcam. As with his previous film Sleepless, the film attempts to update many of Argento's favourite genre tricks by juxtaposing the old, archaic conventions of the detective thriller against the modern, twenty-first century policing techniques. So, whereas Sleepless demonstrated the use of forensic evidence in tracking a brutal murderer (in relation to the tried and tested policing of retired detective Max Von Sydow), The Card Player looks ahead to the world of wire taps, computer surveillance and the general technological buzz of twenty-first century living.

Where the film falls flat for many fans is in the plotting and execution (pardon the pun). Although I greatly enjoyed the first three thirds of this film - plot-holes and character quirks AN' ALL - the final third of this film slips sadly into the realms of complete farce. In fact, if I were to watch this film in the company of friends and family, I'd no doubt cringe with embarrassment if anyone happened to look over and catch me actually enjoying this literal train-wreck of a supposedly grand finalé. Everything we hate about Argento can be found in this clumsy, ham-fisted, badly-written, badly acted dénouement, from the previously strong central character suddenly becoming the helpless victim, to the pointless motive of the seriel killer, to the continual ineptitude of the police force, and of course, our favourite, the horrible-dubbing and wilful over-acting of a character who, when lurking in the shadows, was the most terrifying force imaginable, now, out of the darkness and actually REALLY laughable (the same problem could also be found in Sleepless, to an extent).

It's such a shame too, since much of the film finds Argento breaking new ground. He's toned down the eccentricities that plagued films like Phenomena, Opera and The Stendhal Syndrome, and in doing so has stripped away much of the grandiose filming style he used to so effortlessly and vividly perform. It kind of works in the film's favour though, with this low-key thriller really benefiting from the natural lighting, unfussy composition and matter of fact paunchiness of the editing. He's also toned down the violence too, which is obviously going to be a bone of contention for many Argento fans, but again, I think he manages it within the context of this film.

Going against the grain of my fellow commentators, I will say that I really liked the performances of the two central characters, with Dario for once fining a couple with something actually approaching chemistry. Not to mention the fact that they're characters that we can actually root for and care about; which again, was down to the chemistry and integrity of the performances. As a result, the performances also helped to really enliven a number of the more elaborate set-pieces, in particular the late-night game of cat-and-mouse between Anna and her would-be assassin (which brings to mind the brilliant double-bluff sleight-of-hand found in films like The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Deep Red, Suspiria and Tenebrae) and a late night chase through the shadowy streets of old Rome which is really the Italian Hitchcock at his absolute best.

Like I said, the ending is terrible, but much of the film (for me) was quite enjoyable, and if you can pick it up for under a fiver then I'd say it's definitely worth it. True, it's a far cry from the genius of his Iconic early work, but at the same time, it's nowhere near as bad as recent follies like Trauma and the risible Phantom of the Opera, so if you're an Argento completist then you're gonn'a want it regardless of the negative reviews. If, however, you have some familiarity with Argento, but have found his recent work lacking, then you might want to give it a miss (or at least try before you buy). For me, I'd be tempted to stretch to four stars, as I enjoyed the film - and the DVD transfer is a good one - but I'm knocking the grade down for the terrible ending, which really spoils a lot of the fun.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite disappointing Argento effort, 4 Aug 2010
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This review is from: The Card Player [DVD] (DVD)
"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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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good and interesting effort from Dario, 8 April 2012
This review is from: The Card Player [DVD] (DVD)
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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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Suspiria..., 31 Mar 2008
If you enjoyed Suspiria and Deep Red and want to know more about horror's most off beat and creative director then this blood soaked collection of wild, black gloved, Italian madness may be for you. Here you will sleep walk with razor wielding chimps, talk to insects, dismember your way through suspects and clues with an axe, witness some pretty stylish camera work and all to pounding music. These films - well you'll either love 'em or hate 'em but if you want to see horror done differently from the usual bland Hollywood nonsense Dario Argento might be for you. Apparently all these films in this collection have been nicely remastered and are uncut. The highlights for me are Phenomena and Tenebrae.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Badly dubbed and without subtitles, 20 Sep 2010
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This review is from: The Card Player [DVD] (DVD)
There are two versions of this film on the disc: poorly dubbed in dreadful voices, or in the original Italian which doesn't have subtitles (despite claiming the contrary)! Pretty much useless for the person I ordered it for, who is hard of hearing.

As for the film, it's pretty alright. The poker program used in the film is laughably poor, to the point where it ruptures the credibility of the plot. It looks worse than a Windows 95 poker game.

It's a shame that the technical points detracted from the film, but the dubbed voices were hilarious.
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The Card Player [2004] [DVD]
The Card Player [2004] [DVD] by Dario Argento (DVD - 2004)
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