2013 / Director. Ian Chinsee.
HOUSE OF CARDS was brought to my attention recently and the poster art was enough to trigger my curiosity. Few martial art style films come out of Australia and it's something I was keen to see. I was expecting a small micro-budget film and I was prepared to be generous with it but now that I've watched it, to say that I have been impressed is an understatement. This is a top-notch independent film with a real international appeal. Director Ian Chinsee has laboured over this film for a decade and was even rejected by Screen Australia in the process. With the product he has delivered its as though he didn't need their help in the first place. This is a guy who had a clear vision and obviously has a rare talent. The story begins with a journalist stumbling on a unique and mysterious symbol near to a murder scene. His investigation uncovers feuding tribes of assassins with a history dating back thousands of years. The plot becomes complex and intricate but it never gets convoluted or pretentious. For a modest low budget film Chinsee has aimed very high with his story and most would consider it a risky endeavour... but he has confidence in his story and the know-how. All of the usual micro-budget trappings are avoided with the brilliant use of soundtrack, editing and cinematography. The script is strong, the performances are competent and it's all cut together so tightly and fluently. Adding to the international appeal the film features an assortment of accents; Aussie, American, European etc... it's a story that could transpire anywhere. What impressed me the most was how well the dialogue was recorded. It's so clear and contained and hasn't got any of the atmospheric congestion that so many small films suffer from. Even in locations of high ambience, the discourse is crystal clear. Add to that some impressive fight sequences. These scenes are staged well, however I concede that they could have been tweaked and sped up a bit for a better impact... but they're so well choreographed that it's easily overlooked. The film was released to iTunes recently and I would encourage y'all to see it. They only thing letting it down is the title. I don't think it does the story any justice... but of course that's just my own opinion. I really hope this finds a distributor and I really hope this is the first of many Ian Chinsee films. Fantastic stuff.