"I'm very surprised to see some of the positive reviews this has gotten and I feel it's a duty to offer an honestly negative counterpoint for anyone considering spending money on this who might have high expectations based on Dario Argento's reputation (though I expect some uncritical fans will consider this sort of thing sacrilege and hit the not helpful button immediately). Argento's best work from the 70s in both the giallo and the supernatural horror genres is truly some of my favorite filmmaking of all time, which makes the undeniable decline in quality of his work since Opera all the more painful. I actually, despite their failings, do like certain things about Stendahl Syndrome and Sleepless (and the subsequent Do You Like Hitchcock?); the Card Player, however, just falls short in too many different ways to ignore and make any excuses for.
There are very few striking visual flourishes here, almost none of the amazing camerawork and staging that mark Argento's classics; the look of the film is strangely generic and undistinctive, without the strong personality and drive Argento used to convey through his material. The violence here lacks the truly inspired perverse qualities that characterize many of the classic murders and extreme outbursts driving earlier films. The acting by the female lead is compromised by her obviously limited abilities with English, which extends to other members of the cast; the dialogue is not particularly well written but far worse when rendered badly by non-native speakers (though the guy who I think is actually English doesn't actually fare much better). There are numerous scenes throughout that are even poorly staged and ineptly exected and only two that strike me as genuinely suspenseful in any way; where other Argento films have a hypnotic dreamlike rhythm, this film just feels clumsy and meandering. The ending is weak and the cumulative impact of the film on the viewer is about none at all. As a police procedural by anybody, this does not compare favorably with other much better films in a fairly crowded field; if anything, it feels like a made for TV production or an extended R-rated episode of a routine cop show.
Like many people, I keep hoping for a return to form from Dario (Terza Madre anyone?). With almost every project, rumors fly that this one is the one. Well, the Card Player definitely was not it. If you are a fan of Argento's past work, better to skip this completely."
MetalMan#1 | Maine | 08/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How can anyone say that their an Argento fan and no like this movie. I was actually surprised at how good this is. Dario strays from the norm with this one but unlike others have said it is still recognizable as an Argento film especially in the scene when the killer shows up at the main character's house...in the dark. That whole scene was very Argento. Also the music is an electronic score because of the internet theme and Dario wanted to have a connection between those. It's actually pretty good but not his best. Don't listen to these other reviews, just get it, you shouldn't be dissapointed. That one guy doesn't know what he's talking about with the whole not revealing the killer thing, he must have watched a different movie than I did!!
All in all a good movie from Argento but not his best. I think some people will like the change in style on this movie because it shows that Argento can do a movie way from his usual style and pull it off.
***** to off set the 2 star reviews
Next for Dario: 3rd chapter in the three mother's trilogy! "
The Card Player
J. Bohara | CT | 04/12/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I love horror movies...just can't get enough of them, so when The Card Player became available on dvd, and being a Dario Argento film I had to add it to my collection.
It was not as much of a horror, but a thriller. There was much more implied horror/gore, than visual effects.
The movie is about a serial killer who taunts the police by an on-line poker game, known only as "the card player"...you lose the game the victim dies, pure and simple.
There are some twists to the plot and a couple of gore effects but these are few and far between.
If you are looking for the blood and gore of horror you will fall short in this movie. If you are looking for a thriller in the Hitchcock flare then I would highly recommend viewing this one.
For the die hard Argento fans you really should add this one to your collection if not rent or borrow from someone.
"Argento outdoes himself! A very tense thriller...highly recommended!"-DVD TImes"
M. Fulkerson | Portland, Oregon | 02/17/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I love old school horror movies, so I'm obviously a big fan of Dario Argento. They simply don't make horror movies the way they used to, and Argento has been faithful to this credo. Remember when rated R movies earned their rating, unlike the bubblegum-edited R-rated movies of today? Sadly, the "Card Player" is barely watchable, and it shows us Argento being "experimental" (to his standards) by showing us a laughable script, even more ridiculous acting, and a soundtrack that is mind-blowingly bad. The premise is the oh-so-chilling concept of online poker where the killer disposes of someone if the cops lose (the killer plays online with the police). Of course, the cops lose in the beginning and the people die: not that you would know other than their screaming and wailing. That's pretty much it in terms of plot. The acting is atrocious, but this is forgivable as thespianism has never been a strong point of Argento's films. Which leads me to the music. WOW, is this bad. Argento claims in an interview on this DVD that he wanted "techno" music in the score. Sorry, Mr. Argento, but as a techno music fan I can confidently say this is most definitely NOT techno. This is a Britney Spears trance nightmare hosted at the MTV music awards. Nothing takes away the suspense of being hand-cuffed to a train track than having to hear Italo-disco blaring away in the background. This doesn't make a movie "modern", it simply makes it annoying and just like every other run-of-the-mill schlock flick. We come to expect quality from Argento and, admittedly, I have expectations when I sit down to watch one of his films. Perhaps this is unfair. The "Card Player" has none of the things that Argento fans love to see. Where is the blood and gore? Is this not an Argento film? Where are the fascinating color arrangements and other-worldly dialogue we're accustomed to? I don't depend on having to see blood sprays in order to be scared, but come on, is this not why we love Argento and his movies? I completely appreciate Argento wanting a change of pace and to try something new, but I hope this is just a phase. He didn't gain his popularity for editing himself and certainly didn't garner our respect for inexcusable flops like the "Card Player"."
Started off Ok, but dies horribly towards the end.
J. King | Rochester, MN | 08/26/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The movie started off ok and has a good premise to work with, but my wife's comments sum this movie up perfectly. "I feel like I walked out of the room and came back to a completely crappy movie." I agree with some of the other comments made as well. Some of the oddball characters tend to distract from the movie even when it is still worth watching. The ending and everything leading up to the ending was horrible. There just came a turning point while watching this movie that there was no way it could save itself.
I also agree with the sound factor. The entire cast seems to mumble through lines and the sound needs to be turned up during conversations, and then immediately turned back down when the music kicks in, etc.
I love horror/thriller movies. I even love cheesy B movies. This movie fails to fall in to either category for me."