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Opus (Mona Lisa) Review

Official Review

August 13th, 2016 12:32am
Reviewed by Dr. J. M. Ayala de Cedoz
I was not sure what this effect was going to be like, but it did contain something to do with one of my favorite Renaissance men, Leonardo da Vinci: his painting of La Gioconda or The Mona Lisa.

Let me begin by saying that what you are getting are five cards in a nice box with a link to online instructions which is in the form of a downloadable video, which can also be watched via streaming. The cards themselves are a very (VERY) nice quality save for one aspect, but they will likely never wear out. The ad copy is accurate but I feel there was a problem with the photographic part of it which I will address later.

The whole idea behind this effect is that you remove four plastic cards, which are a thick and sturdy plastic (think like a credit card but just a tad stiffer with a nice gloss finish) from an envelope. They all of black backs and you tell the participant that there is something on the other side which will be seen in a moment, but you are not going to tell them what it is. The participant mixes the face down cards and then decides which quadrant of an imaginary square on the table that each card goes into (1, 2, 3 or 4) and in which direction the cards face (long edges toward them or short edges toward them). After this is done, the cards are turned face up to show that each card has a portion of an image printed on it. When you bring the cards together edge to edge, they see that it is a "perfect" assembly of the da Vinci painting, the Mona Lisa. Despite their shuffling the cards as much as they want, never seeing the picture sides of the cards and even deciding both their orientation on the table and where they are placed!

The above description is one of two possible outcomes. The second possible outcome leads to the four cards being in the incorrect positions, leading to a mismade Mona Lisa. In that case you have them reach into the envelope that has been on the table the entire time and remove the card inside it. When it is turned over, it is seen that it predicted the exact position of the mismade order of the cards on the table.

All this sounds very good, and it is. In my description of the first possible outcome I used the word 'perfect' in quotations and in describing the quality I said they were very good save for one particular aspect. That aspect is this: It seems that to make the four cards that are used to make up the image of the Mona Lisa, the maker started with one whole sheet of plastic, printed the image and then cut that piece into four quadrants and rounded the corners. All good and fine, except when they cut it, it was not done correctly. The final assembled image is missing most of her fingers except one, the left side of her face is missing the eye, the hair line and forhead from the left side are really off-set, the coloration on the upper right quadrant does not match up with the opposite side and all this becauase there is a portion of the image missing, which went missing somewhere in the printing and/or cutting process. I am not a professional printshop owner, but this day and age there is no reason this should have happened. As a matter of fact, I showed these cards to a professional with 34 years of experience who said that any competent print designer would never have made such a mistake, especially if the pre-print work was correct.

Now, many people say this is not a big deal but here is my problem with it: If you look closely at the 5th card (the "out" card), even though it is a mismade image, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. The fingers are all there, the left eye is there, the hairline is in the correct position and if you were to unerringly cut it into four pieces and assemble them in the right order, they would line up correctly and none of the image would be missing. It would be a very good reproduction of the image.

Now, there are those that say the fact that the four main cards not lining up is no big deal and it is close enough for them, and the fact that the "out" card being 100% correct and not matching the mis-cut image is no big deal. This may be so, but it is evident of a quality control issue. The effect will certainly work with the props supplied and your audiences will get the general idea and most may not even notice the issues with the images. Perhaps you can make these issues part of your presentation, using that to explain why it is not correct, however if you expect it to look like a miniature representation of the real painting for whatever reason, you will be disappointed. This is not an anomaly with the particular set I received -it is widespread. If you look at the photos provided at, you can even see the issues that I pointed out but even that is a little deceptive because whomever took the photo for this did not push the lower two cards edge-to-edge. In fact, the one finger that made it onto the lower right quadrant is the index finger and if you place the cards edge-to-edge, the index finger on the lower right quadrant lines up with the middle finger on the lower left quadrant. This is certainly a deceptive photo because the edges of the other cards are all edge-to-edge.

That said, the rest of this product is absolutely well done. The video is not quite studio quality but the lighting, video and audio are clear and you will not be straining to see anything or hear anything. Except for two live performances in an eatery and what looked like a coffee shop, the whole thing is shot in a room with over-the-shoulder type explanations. You never really see anything but a table, the cards, the arms and hands of Nefesch and you hear his voice.

He did a great job in explaining how everything worked. There is a one-time preparation of the cards and should not have to be done again unless it just fades with use. I am not entirely convinced this purpose of this preparation is the best system of its kind, but it certainly works. I cannot really say more without giving it up, but you will know what I mean if you purchase this product.

The method is not really all that hard, but it will require some practice to remember how to handle it each time you perform this, and it will require you to pay attention to what is happening each time you perform it. There are some effects out there where the spectator can determine A, B and C but depending on what they choose, your actions may have to change slightly according to their choices (for example, turning cards face up in a certain way). With this effect, regardless of how the cards are orientated, your actions are very consistent. You may have to watch the video a few times to get the idea down and he does expalain it multiple times, so for some people it may get to be repetetive.

There was something else that did bother me a bit and I feel it is worth mentioning here, though as of this writing it may well be a moot point: In the video he not only performs with the Mona Lisa cards, but he also does so with another very recognizable image from da Vinci: the Vitruvian Man. Further, he uses that very same set in some of the explanation sections too. My immediate thought was that it would be perfect to have both the Mona Lisa set and the Vitruvian Man set, but when this was released, only the Mona Lisa set was available. Why on earth would you perform with and use for explanation purposes a set of cards with a different image that is not available? Either you have both available upon release, or you make a statement that the particular set will be available at a later date or you do not use it at all. However, as I said, as of this writing it may be a moot point because the Vitruvian Man set is now available for purchase. I have no idea of the quality of that set and whether it suffers from the same lack of quality control or not.

Something else that you see in the video that is not included in the box is the envelope in which you keep the cards and in which the "out" card stays unless it is needed during performance. I know this is a small thing and the small envelopes (which are about the size of a pay envelope) are not hard to find, but how hard would it have been to go this extra step and provide it?

Overall this effect itself is very good, mostly because the audience participant can do just about everything themselves, which makes it all the more powerful. It is not necessarily a blockbuster effect, but it would make a good filler piece or an easy one-off effect if you have a few minutes to do something for someone.

As I said before, this certainly will work the way it is intended with the props exactly as they are provided, but if you want something with a professionally polished, finished look, this will not give you that. Once you understand how the effect works, you can absolutely make your own cards out of whatever image you want and you can put it on card stock, blank face playing cards, cardboard or whatever you want. You could even have your own set professionally printed on this plastic stock with your own images if you like.

The price point of this might be okay if the finished product was actually done right. As it stands, it is a bit high. Given the quality control issues and the deceptive nature of the photographs in the ad copy, along with the other points that I have made, I cannot give this as high a rating as I would like to. IF the product quality was better this would certainly receive a higher rating because face it, if you really cared about your product you would want it to be as best it can be for your customers. As it stands...

3 stars.

Available at your favorite Murphy’s Magic dealer

Product info for Opus (Mona Lisa)

Author: Nefesch
Publisher: Nefesch
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $24.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

The value of a coincidence depends on its degree of improbability!

A demonstration of intuition and impossible coincidences.

OPUS is a straight forward close up effect, where you will give to your spectator a visual proof of an impossible coincidence.

Four black backed cards are introduced, these cards are given to a spectator who is instructed to mix them freely without looking at the face of the cards; this gives him the chance to put those cards in any order out of 24 possibilities. (4!)

The spectator is now asked to decide the orientation of each card; having the chance to either turn some cards 180 degrees or not; he has now 16 more possibilities!

The spectator is now invited to freely select the position in which those cards are to be placed on the table to form a square; he is given more options and possibilities.

After all the decisions that the spectator has freely taken; and all the possibilities given; now it is time to turn the cards over.

When the black cards are turned over, the spectator realizes that out of all the possibilities that he had; he ended up with the only possibility that makes the 4 pieces shape perfectly the Mona Lisa puzzle that was printed on the face of the cards.

OPUS is also a PREDICTION effect.

A Fifth card is included for you to use it as a prediction.

You don't need to carry or hide many outs. This fifth card is YOUR ONLY OUT. And it will ALWAYS BE A PERFECT ACCURATE PREDICTION.

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