I recently watched two Korean movies released by 5 Points Pictures, Tazza: The High Rollers and Moss. Both were enjoyable, and both DVD releases included an extra DVD dedicated to tons of extra features. Between the two, I'd have to say I enjoyed Tazza: The High Rollers more. That one is about a gambler named Goni, who starts off as a chump but ends up as one of the best gamblers in the country. It's quite a ride, whereas Moss is a much slower film that goes for continually increasing suspense and mystery as a son tries to find out how exactly his father died when he travels to the small town in which his dad not only lived, but was apparently the leader of the village.
In Tazza, Goni starts out as an ordinary joe who loses everything in an illegal game of cards. Then he steals a ton of money from his sister and loses all of that as well. When he realizes that he had actually been swindled, he goes on a quest to get it all back, but this quest leads him to a professional gambler named Mr. Pyeong who takes Goni on as his apprentice. Pyeong molds Goni into a master gambler, but once Goni earns back his sister's money he just can't stop from getting drawn deeper into the underworld of gambling. It's a sexy, violent thriller with interesting characters and lots of style.
The card game that they play in this film is called Hwatu, and it uses some kind of Korean cards, not the Western 52 card standard deck. I really had no idea how the game was played, but that really didn't end up mattering at all. I will say that the game seemed to move a lot faster than poker, though I suppose that could just be due to editing. At any rate, it helped keep the fast pace of the movie. This film clocks in at about two hours and twenty minutes but it really doesn't feel that long. It feels like a wild ride through the seedy and stylish world of master manipulators.
In Moss, these detectives arrest this guy, Mok-hyeong, who is accused of stealing all these people's money, though he claims that the people gave them that money so he could build them houses or something. He is thought to be a top con man who has the uncanny ability to manipulate anyone and with barely any talking, so we're really not sure what to think. Is he good? Is he bad? The detective who put him away, Cheon (aka Chief), eventually comes to believe that he deserves to be free, so they move to a new area and build a village from scratch, brining along other bad guys who want to be reformed. Got it so far? Yeah, this movie isn't nearly as straight forward as Tazza.
Then the movie switches to later in time where Mok-hyeong has recently died and his ex-detective friend, Yong-duk, is an old man. Unfortunately they used old-man makeup for this instead of just hiring a similar looking older actor. This is fairly common in movies and I really wish movie makers would stop doing it. It is extremely rare that putting old-man makeup on an actor makes them actually look like an older version of themselves. It almost always looks like someone wearing old-man makeup and takes always takes me out of the movie.
So anyway, Mok-hyeong's son, Hae-guk, travels to the village, and when he decides to stay it soon becomes clear that he is not wanted there. This makes him curious so he begins to do some investigating, trying to find out who these people are and if perhaps his father did not die of natural causes. And if not, who killed him? And who? And why? Even after the movie ends, you may need to watch it again to understand the whole thing (I know I did). That's no easy feat if you're short on time, since this one is even longer than Tazza, clocking in at two hours and forty three minutes.
The extras on both of these releases are insane! It's almost like having a complete documentary accompanying each one, but broken down so it's not boring. I loved the Tazza comparison with the original comic, how they showed in comic panel format the movie characters next to the comic characters, and hot just head shots but from various scenes in the movie and comics. And the featurette showing gamblers tricks; that was cool. I don't know if you get the extras disc when renting, so if not then that's really too bad and you may consider actually buying these. Or at least Tazza, as I'd say I'd probably enjoy watching that one again later on down the road.