South Korea has developed a reputation for itself when it comes to creating TV shows and movies that are unlike anything else we see in the West. We seem to be living in an era of reboots and unnecessary sequels and so more and more people are broadening their horizons and turning their attention towards foreign-language movies that have enjoyed huge success in their respective countries.

If you love a crime thriller that has elements of drama, suspense, and violence then this movie is definitely the one for you. It is the perfect thing to watch if you enjoy playing casino games and fancy yourself to have a touch of luck when it comes to putting on a bet. This movie should be at the top of the watchlist for anybody who thinks of themselves as being the next Dan Bilzerian.

What is the movie about?

Released as a sequel to the 2006 movie Tazza: The High Rollers, this South Korean drama is centered around a protagonist who finds himself embroiled in something much larger than himself. Like any casino-themed drama/thriller, there are obvious Ocean’s comparisons but that wouldn’t do the movie justice. This movie deviates in that it focuses on darker, more underworld genre aspects. That helps it to carve out its own niche.

The movie’s protagonist is played by Choi Seung-hyun who is apparently a huge star in the South Korean music scene – he is a rapper called T.O.P in a group called Big Bang. The movie follows him as he joins an illegal syndicate in Seoul and the trouble he gets into as he is crossed and double-crossed by the shady characters found in the city’s underworld.

What does the movie do well?

Viewers seemed to really enjoy the gloominess of the movie, with the darkened scenes and unlit segments remaining true to the source material, something which went down very well with readers when it was first published. Because the movie does diverge from the manga on a number of occasions, it is a welcome addition that is very much appreciated because it provides a link that helps bridge the gap between the two mediums.

The movie is big, and by that, I mean that there is a huge cast with an absolute bucket load of secondary and tertiary characters for you to get to know and familiarize yourself with. That being said, it doesn’t feel like a burden on the viewer. Each and every one of these side characters is fully fleshed out and has aspects to them that are both memorable and likable (or tolerable), even if their character is more villainous than courageous.

If you’re a gore fan like I am then you’ll almost certainly find this to be an enjoyable or satisfying watch, with plenty of blood to go around. There seems to be more and more blood and gore in movies nowadays as visual and special effects continue to get better and push the limits of what we think is even possible. This was a key takeaway for many viewers – they praised the use of the gore and appreciated that it added to the griminess of the movie.

What could the movie have done better?

One of the most common complaints was that it could have been done better. The whole idea came from writer Kim Se-Yeong’s creative brain with him being the author of the hugely popular graphic novel series. It was of course understandable then that many viewers were disappointed with the fact that only one character, Yu Hae-jin’s Go Gwang-ryeol, appeared in both the manga and the movie.

The movie is a slow burner and takes its time to get onto the story itself. After around the one-hour mark, we are yet to meet the key figures in the movie, only receiving teasers and brief introductions, without being able to get a real understanding of who we are supposed to like and dislike. While that is resolved over the course of the movie, it certainly takes its sweet time in getting us to that point and you’ll have to make sure to stick it out.

I know I said that the blood and gore was one of the big pulls but there was also a sizable portion of the audience who felt that it went too far. If you’re even a little bit squeamish, maybe you should give this movie a miss.

Should you watch it?

That will depend on whether you can be patient and are able to withstand a tonne of blood and gore. The story itself is great and the cinematography is excellent but you should keep in mind that the first half of the movie really does take its time. In my humble opinion, I think it’s a great movie that does well to find that delicate balance between masterful and self-indulgent but that’s just me, I’m merely a lowly English Literature graduate.