A series of murders leave the police with few clues and few suspects. The brutality involved in the killings heightens the passion from the officers in their desperate question to track down the killers. With no other choice they adopt the strategy of using a thief to catch a thief, and enlist known criminals in their efforts. As past histories come back to the forefront, emotions run high as the killers seem to stay one step ahead.
I bought this film on a whim in an order at Yesasia a while back. Can't remember why now, but it was cheap (US$3.99!), I needed more films to get the free shipping and I'd heard of it, or something like that. While not the most amazing film I've ever seen, Wild Card was definitely a decent watch and worth the money I spent on it. This version is the official Korean release and I was quite surprised that it was available so cheap, but at time of writing this edition was out of print and no longer available, so the amazing bargain that this was is no longer available.
The film crosses several genre boundaries, moving from comedy to drama to action to crime thriller, and while more successful in some areas than in others, Wild Card is a film that doesn't fail in any. The occasional instances of humour bring a brief wry smile to the viewers face, although some of the gangsters do get a little on the annoying side due to their extremely lavish over-the-top-ness. The drama elements are handled very well, with the back stories of many of the police detectives slowly coming to the forefront as the film progresses, explaining the characters in more depth. The action is surprisingly brutal, with the killers' murder method of choice being a swinging steel ball to the head, crushing the victim's skull. It is actually quite nasty, but very efficient looking. Lastly the thriller elements involve all the methods you would expect in a 'police detectives after the bad guys' type film. The tension is played with a little, and while I was never on the edge of my seat, I was definitely interested in the film's proceedings.
Credit has to be given to the cast for making the film very much watchable. With the exception of the aforementioned annoying gangster, each cast member delivers a credible performance, portraying their character and their emotions well. The fight scenes all were made to look realistic with crunching strikes and enthusiastic choreography, and the general look of the film is very professional and well made. All in there isn't much to complain about.
With one exception that is... While everything is good and does the film justice, nothing is amazing. Everything is good but not great. The plot is decent enough, but doesn't have the overall depth to raise the film up a level or two. When the closing credits came on the screen, I was left with the feeling of having watched a decent film, but there was no lasting impact that made me feel like I wanted to rant and rave and sing the film's praises. The film was an enjoyable experience, but I wouldn't be in any rush to watch it again.
Audio & Subtitles
I chose to watch the film in DTS mode and found the experience pleasant enough. The film is largely dialogue based and not laden with gun fights, explosions and other hi-octane shenanigans. As such the surrounds only receive a limited work out. I'd describe the soundtrack as being functional, but nothing to stretch a sound system.
The subtitles were pretty decent throughout. A few errors in grammar are evident here and there, but nothing to detract from their meaning or comprehension.
I quite liked what I saw while watching Wild Card. And I'm not just talking about the rather hot Han Chae-young in the supporting love interest role. Colours were well saturated, if maybe a tad overly-so, detail level seemed good, with a touch of grain in the picture being evident in some scenes. An above average transfer that like the film doesn’t quite excel.
DVD & Extras
This release comes in a shiny outer slipcase and is a 2 DVD edition. English subtitles are only available for the film and the entire 2nd DVD is in Korean, DVD menus included, so I've got no idea what the extras actually are. The film DVD has an audio commentary and I do know there is a 45 min approx. making of on the extras disc. Other than that, I didn't explore the disc much as I hadn't a clue what I was exploring. There were plenty of other extras on there for those who care!
To sum up, Wild Card is a decent film that is worth a watch if all your "wow" films have been watched already. It is good on all fronts, but nothing about it will grab you full force and make you eager to see the rest.