Combustible Celluloid
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With: Stefania Rocca, Liam Cunningham, Silvio Muccino, Adalberto Maria Merli, Claudio Santamaria, Fiore Argento, Cosimo Fusco, Mia Benedetta, Giovanni Visentin, Claudio Mazzenga, Conchita Puglisi, Micaela Pignatelli, Luis Molteni
Written by: Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini, Jay Benedict, Phoebe Scholfield
Directed by: Dario Argento
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 103
Date: 01/02/2004

The Card Player (2004)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Jacked Up

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Dario Argento's The Card Player is considered one of his weaker pictures, made during a period of "decline," and it's hard to recommend it unequivocally, but it has its interesting bits. Police detective Anna Mari (Stefania Rocca) is contacted by a serial killer, wanting someone to play online poker, with the life of a kidnapped woman at stake. The game does not go well, and the woman is killed on camera. Anna teams up with hard-drinking British cop John Brennan (Liam Cunningham) to find him. Meanwhile, they recruit young poker whiz Remo (Silvio Muccino) to give them some leverage in the games. There's really not much of Argento's touch here; it's mostly just a straightforward police procedural. And if you're paying attention at all, the killer's ID is pretty obvious. And yet, it still manages to hold the attention, and provides a few tingles here and there. Kino Lorber's Special Edition Blu-ray offers both an Italian language track with subtitles, or an English track; as is the case with many Italian "B" movies, this one was shot in various languages and there's no one "real" track. I tried English for a while, but the performances were awful, so I went with Italian. Other bonuses include a commentary by track by film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson, and interviews with Argento, screenwriter Franco Ferrini, set designer Antonello Geleng, and performer Fiore Argento, and a batch of trailers.

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