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House of Cards Trilogy (House of Cards / To Play the King / The Final Cut) (2003)

Ian Richardson , Michael Kitchen  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (316 customer reviews)

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House of Cards Trilogy (House of Cards / To Play the King / The Final Cut) + House of Cards: Season 2 + House of Cards: Season 1
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Product Details

  • Actors: Ian Richardson, Michael Kitchen, Kitty Aldridge, Colin Jeavons, Diane Fletcher
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 26, 2003
  • Run Time: 600 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (316 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009MGGI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,693 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "House of Cards Trilogy (House of Cards / To Play the King / The Final Cut)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Connoisseurs of political chicanery will relish House of Cards, the mordantly funny story of Francis Urquhart (Ian Richardson), a British politician with his eye on the top job. Urquhart is the chief whip of the Conservative Party and his job is to maintain party discipline, or, as he likes to say, "put a bit of stick about." This means that he has intimate knowledge of his colleagues' foibles, knowledge that he uses to further his own political ambitions. Aided by his equally ruthless wife and drawing on a network of accomplices, Urquhart forces the prime minister to resign then sets out to discredit each of his rivals for the party leadership. Although it is strongly cast throughout, House of Cards belongs to Ian Richardson. Without his perfectly balanced performance, Urquhart might have become no more than a two-dimensional villain, but Richardson finds exactly the right tone to make his character as attractive as he is wicked. Thanks to Richardson, and a superb script by Andrew Davies, this brilliant political satire is sure to delight anyone who has wondered what might be going on in the darker corners of our democratic institutions.

In To Play the King, Urquhart appears to have everything he wants. He is the prime minister, he has no immediate rivals, and everyone who knows of his crimes is either on his side or dead. But a new challenge arises when the queen dies and the new king (Michael Kitchen doing a perfect Prince Charles) proves to be a thorn in Urquhart's side. Urquhart may be a staunch defender of the monarchy as a concept, but an individual sovereign is fair game if he proves to be a threat. With a Davies script that pokes fun at British politics and the antics of the royal family as well as a terrific cast led again by Ian Richardson, To Play the King maintains the high standard set by House of Cards.

The Final Cut, the last installment of the trilogy, strikes a more somber note than its predecessors. Urquhart has almost overtaken Margaret Thatcher to become Britain's longest serving postwar leader, but the public is tiring of him and there are rumblings of dissent in the Conservative Party. Urquhart and his wife plot to secure both their place in history and their financial future. Once again, writer Andrew Davies has created a satire to relish, one that confirms all of our doubts about the motives of politicians. Ian Richardson's wonderful performance--filled with sly asides and winks to the camera--makes Francis Urquhart as fascinating as he is wicked, and we find ourselves rooting for this terrible man. The world would certainly be a duller place without him. --Simon Leake

Product Description

Ian Richardson (From Hell, M. Butterfly) leads an all star cast in this malevolent satire of greed, corruption and ambition in the highest realms of government. As Machiavellian monster Francis Urquhart, he schemes and backstabs his way to the top until he is standing on a pile of broken promises, betrayals and the bodies of those who oppose him.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
160 of 163 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Shall I put a bit of stick about?" March 24, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The Brits may no longer rule the world, but they sure produce some of the best television the medium has seen. In any discussions of the best projects or series in television history, this trilogy will have a place.
The series opens with Conservative Party Whip, Francis Urquhart, fondly holding a portrait of Margaret Thatcher, remarking that all things, no matter how good, must come to an end. This perfectly sets the time and tone of what is to follow. Urquhart must maneuver and control the political scene in the power vacuum left by the exit of the Iron Lady.
This production strives for Shakespearean proportions, and hits the bull's eye. The main character, Urquhart, played by Ian Richardson, is a crafty blend of Macbeth and King Richard. Like Macbeth, Urquhart has a power hungry wife gently messaging his shoulders and whispering pretty treacheries in his ear; and like Richard, Urquhart takes the viewer into his confidence, revealing his black plans with wicked joy. This technique of Urquhart speaking directly to you, the viewer, is a tremendous stroke. Like with King Richard, you will find yourself somehow cheering for this cold, angular blade of a man, as he slices through well-meaning fools and bumbling bullies alike (or, as Urquhart says, "put a bit of stick about").
A great production throughout, with wonderful writing and acting. Highly recommended. --Mykal Banta
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132 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Supurb adaptation of the Michael Dobbs books November 18, 2003
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Wonderful adaptation of the Michael Dobbs "House of Cards" trilogy. Ian Richardson plays Francis Urquhart, Chief Whip of the Conservative Government, who schemes his way to Number Ten through blackmail, backroom deals, and sheer gall. The second volume, "To Play the King" shows Urquhart up against the newly crowned King (Michael Kitchen, who does a wonderful take on Prince Charles, really stealing the show) with Britain not big enough for the two of them. "The Final Cut" shows Urquhart hanging on against the wiles of the younger generation, while Diane Fletcher, as Urquhart's loyal, Lady-Macbeth-like wife, has her greatest acting moments.
Well cast, well directed, and with three thrilling political stories. However, this series would be nothing without Richardson, who amazes. Perhaps the best moments are when he breaches the fourth wall by talking to, or simply raising an eyebrow to, the viewer. While we could never approve of the things "F. U." does, it is hard not to love the character, as brought to full-color life by Richardson.
The only extra given on the DVDs, other than cast biographies, is a short BBC segment discussing the controversy over "To Play The King", or, to be more specific, over a line which some felt implied that the King used to send out for prostitutes (in context, it clearly does not, it implied he sent out for well-born ladies who would feel it their duty to come).
Each DVD contains four 50 minute episodes, so it is a good buy.
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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you trust me? October 3, 2003
By Bill
This is an irresistible series, propelled forward by the exquisite winking-at-the-camera performance of Ian Richardson. Francis Urquhart provides a once-in-a-lifetime role for Richardson and he, exceptional actor that he is, makes the very most of it.
In fact, he makes a truly evil character so attractive that you find yourself rooting for him against your better instincts. At least, that's true for the first episode, before the extent of his monstrous nature becomes apparent. One gets entirely caught up in the behind-the-scenes machinations of this man-who-would-be-prime-minister.
The tone set by the first episode's shocking finish continues in "To Play the King," a fine and exciting sequel. Francis Urquhart (his initials are used to comic effect in the drama's newspaper headlines) goes head-to-head with the King, obviously modeled on Prince Charles.
The DVD for this installment has a bonus: An interview with writer Andrew Davies on the BBC. Judging by this segment, British talk show audiences aren't much higher on the IQ scale than their U.S. equivalents. Much of the audience is hostile to Davies -- who did extremely good work here (as he did on his more popular "Pride and Prejudice") -- because they entirely miss the show's ironic stance. It's great to have this extra feature, although a commentary track with Davies or Richardson (or both) would have been even better.

Finally, the trilogy ends with "The Final Cut." The tone really shifts in this one, and I have to say it's the least successful installment. Richardson no longer seems to be enjoying himself as much, although perhaps it's just that he's portraying a much more tired Urquhart. The pace is slower, the suspense is a bit more contrived, and the new characters are less interesting. Still, it succeeds in bringing the series to a suitably dramatic close.
If you're a fan of British drama or politics (or great acting, for that matter), don't hesitate. Snatch up this DVD set.
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142 of 158 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, but in the end flawed August 14, 2004
Me watching this took on the manner of a voracious animal consuming its prey. The entire trilogy is beautifully done, magnificiently produced, and the acting is simply incomparable.

The HOUSE OF CARDS, the first season, is quite clearly the best. The wit, the plot, the sheer malignancy of it is just pure delight. I worked briefly at the House of Commons, and I thought the presentation of Parliament and Westminster politics was brilliant. I don't think there is anything equal to the cynicism on display here, as France Urquhart (Ian Richardson) cheerfully outmaneuvers and destroys his political opponents (his colleagues within his party). The mockery of the British political system is right on. Richardson has these asides to the audience that work perfectly, and heighten the hilarity. It's what something like WAG THE DOG wishes it could be for American politics, but unfortunately American audiences don't always have the political sophistication to enjoy this level of satire. *****

TO PLAY THE KING has Urquhart as Prime Minister (known appropriately by the initials FU), master of his domain. The arc in this series focuses on the place of the monarchy in the constitutional system, with many asides on homosexuality in politics, manipulation of the press, exploitation of disaters, and the staging of politically convenient terrorist attacks. Not as good as the first season by any measure, however, Urquhart's systematic destruction of the King (a brilliant Michael Kitchen) masterfully communicates some of the political tensions built into Britain's constitution. This season generated a lot of controversy with the British public, many of whom thought it was intentionally and excessively disrespectful to the monarchy (see the DVD extras).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series
Great series. Intriguing, good acting, held your interest.
Published 4 days ago by Louis L. La Fontisee Jr
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the US series, excellent though that is
A brilliant series
Published 7 days ago by Rex M. Greenslade
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good and clever show. Now I don't have to watch the American version of House of Cards.
Published 8 days ago by DeeLila Murray
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
tense, well acted drama. superb until the final episode, sadly.
Published 10 days ago by Mark Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series and a great cast
Great series and a great cast. Haven't watched the US version yet but one reason I loved the English version is that I'm not as familiar with their Government and how it works. Read more
Published 10 days ago by John D. Klingel
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the money and time
This was an interesting perspective. I loved the American series and look forward to season three.
Published 10 days ago by Joan
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimately politically thriller of all times to date.
This is the best politically thriller ever written and acted. Ian Richardson plays the devious Francis Urquhart brilliantly. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Charles Hung
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Series
You'll love it. Great series.
Published 15 days ago by Meme
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful! I watched for half an hour only and ...
Awful! I watched for half an hour only and tossed it in the trash, as not even my friends wanted it!
Published 16 days ago by Gertie A. Redlack
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent fun!
You might very well think Francis Urquhart is the most delightfully wicked (fictional) politician ever, but I couldn't possibly comment.
Published 17 days ago by NW
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