The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Tazza: The Hidden Card

Tazza: The Hidden Card is the third film from the Korean film franchise Tazza, and in this installment, Dae-Gil (T.O.P), a hustler and the nephew of Go-Ni, gets played and hustled by his co-workers and lover. Determined to exact revenge against his ex-co-workers and lover, Dae-Gil recruits the aid of his first love Mi-Na (Shin Se-Kyung) and Kwang-Ryeol (Yu Hae-Jin), a fellow hustler, and the trio set out to ruin Dae-Gil’s betrayers.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Tazza: The Hidden Card does not pass the Russo test but it does pass the Bechdel and race test.

tazza-the-hidden-card (1)
A hustler, Dae-Gil’s new boss, reads Dae-Gil’s palm.

Like most Korean films, The Hidden Card is extremely heteronormative. Everyone is assumed to be straight, anything LGBTI related is never mentioned and there are no LGBTI characters in the film, and it is exactly because the film is so heteronormative and there are no LGBTI characters in The Hidden Card that The Hidden Card fails to pass the Russo test. When it comes to the inclusion and portrayal of women in The Hidden Card, the film does not fare much better.

Dae-Gil plays a game in an attempt to free Mi-Na from her forced labor contract.

The Hidden Card is mostly a film about men, starring men but there are a few women in the film. Of the couple of female characters in the film, the most prominent are Mi-Na and Woo (Lee Ha-Nui) and these two ladies play very stereotypical gambler/hustler roles – the sex pot/damsel. They, for example, are constantly dressed in very tight and short cocktail dresses; they flash their underwear; they use (or are forced to use) their sexuality as a tool (and their sexuality is implied as being their main or only means of power); and they are also depicted as being victims that men need to save (e.g., Dae-Gil believed that Woo was being hustled so he tried to prevent her from being conned and Dae-Gil helped Ni-na escape from Dong-Sik’s clutches). They, furthermore, are constantly used by men (even when they think or they seem like they are the ones in control and that they are manipulating situations); they always play second fiddle to the men (i.e., the men are always the ones who are ultimately behind all of the machinations, not the women); and they only exist because they further men’s storylines (e.g., Mi-Na exists because she serves as a reason and motivator behind Dae-Gil’s decision to become a professional hustler and Woo exists because her sexuality causes Dae-Gil to experience a downfall). Nonetheless (i.e., despite how lacking the film’s portrayal and incorporation of women is), The Hidden Card does pass the Bechdel test, and the film passes this test because there are a couple of instances where the handful of named women in The Hidden Card talk to each other without mentioning men. The film also passes the race test, and the film easily passes this test because the entire cast is Asian and White people are never mentioned by any of the characters.

*The Bechdel test entails three requirements:
1. It has to have at least two (named) women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

*The Vito Russo test entails three requirements:
1. The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and/or transgender
2. The character must not be solely or predominately defined by her sexual orientation, gender identity and/or as being intersex
3.The character must be tied into the plot in such a way that her removal would have a significant effect

***The race or people of color (POC) test has three requirements:
1. It has two people of color in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something other than a White person

****Just because a film passes the Bechdel, Russo and race test does not mean that it is not sexist, heterosexist, racist and/or cissexist, etc. The Bechdel, Russo and race test is only a bare minimum qualifier for the representation of LGBTI individuals, women and people of color in film. The failure to pass these tests also does not identify whether the central character was a woman, a person of color or a LGBTQI individual and it does not dictate the quality of the film.