Tazza: The High Rollers Blu-ray Review
'Tazza: The High Rollers' is presented in widescreen 2.35:1 with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p coding.
One of the most striking elements of this transfer is the colour reproduction. With bold primaries on show, the palette is very vibrant for the duration. The level of detail is high and is accentuated by the well lit presentation. There is plenty of clothing and texture detail on show, with lots to look at in the majority of the well framed shots. The sharpness of some of the facial shots contains a lot of fine detail and can unintentionally expose some of the special effect prosthesis employed.
That being said, the definition can suffer at times, with some of the objects in shot appearing a little soft around the edges. This is particularly true of some of the background objects, which are a little out of focus, muddled during the night time portions and are not as well defined as in other BD releases. Some the scenes are laced with a heavy dose of grain but the granular presence is largely organic and unobtrusive for the duration. The contrast ratio is very strong indeed, with deep inky blacks on display during the night time portions and crisp whites on show in the outdoor scenes. Shadow detail is high, with detail shining through in many of the more dimly lit segments.
While at times a bit of a mixed bag, the good certainly outweighs the bad and this release earns a well deserved high seven.
The subtitles are well defined and always easy to read but at times the translation suffers from grammatical errors. However, this is not a major compliant as I had no difficulty in following on screen proceedings at any time.
'Tazza: The High Rollers' comes with a 5.1 dts HD Master Audio surround track.
The audio presentation can seem a little front heavy at times, although the front listening plane is very involving for the majority. The focus of the track is the all important vocals, which are always crystal clear and never difficult to follow. Surround involvement is pretty constant for the duration although this aspect of the presentation did sound a little low in the mix at times. Ambience is provided by way of gamblers shouting and scrambling for exit routes (over the wail of sirens) during police raids, with pleasing involvement from the surround channels. The sub comes to life during couple of the impact sequences, such as when various underworld denizens are clobbered with various blunt objects (such as bowling pins). The car crash sequence brings forth some nice deep bass intonations (as does the rumble of the Beemer) but overall the sub is somewhat subdued.
The score is dominated by jazzy overtones, perfectly complementing the content. Saxophones, percussion instruments and woodwinds ring through with clarity, with some nice stereo reproduction. There are also other ambient tracks provided to alleviate some of the quieter portions of the track. Surround bleed and bass interjection are adequate.
Overall this is a well engineered and competently mixed audio presentation but it's most definitely not one to show off the power of your surround system.
This BD release is bursting at the seams with additional supplements and there are not one but two commentary tracks included (one with the director and the other with the cast), which is a huge bonus. Unfortunately, there are no English subtitles included whatsoever, rendering this entire portion of the disc completely useless to non-Korean speakers, which is a massive shame.
Deleted Scenes (SD 23mins) - Included here are thirteen deleted scenes with optional director's commentary. Most appear to be no great loss but the inclusion of English subtitles could have made them more relevant and worthwhile. There are also a lot of alternate shots, as well as those scenes which simply did not make it into the finished product.
Comic Book Comparisons (SD 8mins) - This feature includes interviews with the cast and director as they speak about their characters and how they compare to their comic book counterparts. Drawings from the comic books on which this movie is based are also included.
Interview with Dong-hun Choi and Huh Young-man (SD 10mins) - This extra appears to be a general discussion with the Choi (director) and Young-man (comic book author). There are excerpts from the comic included but aside from that I'm clueless as to what is being discussed here!
Making Of (SD 20mins) - This mini-doc takes a look at the making of the movie. Plenty of b-roll and behind the scenes is included and the content looks interesting - if I only I could understand what was being said! Interviews with the cast, director and crew also feature and the entire piece is presented in a slick manhwa manner.
Interviews with the Cast (SD 8mins) - This extra includes footage from the movie itself and interviews with the cast/director but to be honest I didn't quite get what was being discussed here at all.
More Interviews (SD 27mins) - This is a collection of seven interviews whose participants include the main players in the movie and the director. I think that they may be discussing the seven rules that Goni learns on his journey but again I can't be sure.
Another Making Of (SD 20mins) - This appears to be another making of/behind the scenes documentary, which includes storyboards of some of the standout action scenes of the movie (namely the car chase and the train sequences). I could understand some of what was being shown here and it was actually quite interesting.
Set Design (SD 6mins) - This brief feature includes shots of all the indoor sets from the movie and interviews with (presumably) to art director. Concept drawings are also included.
Hwatu Tricks (SD 11mins) - This extra focuses on the gambling aspects of the movie and features a hwatu professional who explains the rules of the game and also shows us a trick or two. Footage from the movie is also included.
Trailers and Promotional Content (HD/SD) - Included here, for your viewing pleasure, are four SD and one HD trailers for the movie. There's also promotional blurbs from the director and interviews with the cast (which are condensed versions of the extras previously listed).
'Tazza: The High Rollers' was released in 2006 and was directed by relative newcomer Dong-hun Choi. Focusing on the illegal gambling circuit in South Korea, this movie charts the rise of dropout degenerate Goni. We witness his progression from a lowlife who resorts to stealing from his family to feed his card playing habits to a true high roller. The plot is fast past and contains enough interesting twists, turns and action content to keep the audience entertained for the duration of the hefty run time. The direction is slick and well presented and the collective (extensive) cast does a fine job with a couple of genuinely impressive performances. This is not a ground breaking piece of Asian cinema, nor does it match up to similar(-ish)Western flicks such as 'Casino', but it does offer a break from the Asian cinema norm and is refreshing enough to warrant a recommendation.
The transfer is well defined for the majority but it's just not as well defined as we have seen on other BD releases. Some of shots were also a little soft around the edges, with slightly muddled backgrounds during the darker portions. The audio mix has some nice surround involvement (although this aspect did appear a little low in the mix at times) and involving stereo reproduction. The track is above par but is not one to show off the power of your surround system. The extras portion of the disc is jam-packed full of extra features but unfortunately there are no subtitles included whatsoever. All in all this is a worthwhile release but the lack of subtitles on the extras was a big letdown.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £27.89
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