Get ready to play your cards right as we check out some great British films that boast a gambling theme.
There’s plenty of good cinema that comes direct from Old Blighty. While Bond and Casino Royale may spring instantly to mind for viewers around the world when it comes to English gambling-based films, this isn’t really the case – the movie is a US production, with the casino set in Montenegro. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great gambling-themed films to derive from the UK as we find out…
Readers unfamiliar with Snatch would do best to get their heads checked. This film from 2000 is often touted as Guy Richie at his finest, flexing his creativity in his role as both writer and director. Snatch is the follow up to Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (also in our list).
Snatch is a dark comedy that is at times gruesome, confusing, and downright hilarious. Set in the London petty (and major) crime scene, the plot centers around a missing diamond, a myriad of crews looking to find the precious stolen gem, and some twisting and turning subplots, mainly centering around Mickey, a crazy Irish gypsy boxer played amusingly by Brad Pitt, and the betting surrounding his next match in an underground theatre-style setup.
Fast-paced, gritty, and laugh out loud funny, Snatch is a must-watch, or a must-revisit.
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
Lock, Stock – as many fans abbreviate this flick to – marks Guy Richie’s first time behind the wheel as director of a film, and is a delight to watch. Another black comedy, in the same vein as Snatch, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels takes place in the seedy underbelly of London, complete with dim-witted schemers and scammers, and one amusing turn of events after another.
The premise of the movie is loading a clever cards-man up with money in a high-stakes game with a porn baron, a seemingly easy-win situation that ends up going awry, leaving a huge stake of cash to front with little to no time to come up with the dough. The flick stars Jason Statham as Bacon and Sting as J.D.
A lust-filled thriller, Croupier was the film that set Clive Owen firmly in US-audience’s sights as a man to watch. The movie was released in 1999, and is sitting at a firm 98% on Rotten Tomatoes Tomamtometer – no mean feat.
Clive plays Jack Manfred, a man trying to scrape by as a writer, who takes on a new job as a croupier in a fancy casino to make ends meet. The film revolves around the croupiers, working at the casino, as well as the customers, along with the intricate relationship involvement around both – strictly against casino policy. Of course, there is a cheat at play, will Jack get involved and caught up in the seediness?
Revolver is our 3rd entry on the list from filmmaker Guy Ritchie. The movie follows the same sort of theme and setting as Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, and features Statham for a third time, but the movie itself isn’t quite as good as the first two. Some people have put this down to Guy’s relationship with Madonna disrupting his creative process, although that seems like it might be almost a laughable excuse. It’s still a fun ride, especially if you enjoyed his other flicks.
The movie centers around gambling, cards at the core, but ultimately every game in the game of life. Jason Statham is our card man who ends up doing a stint in prison and discovering “The Formula”. On the other side is Macha, Ray Liotta in a boss-man role with gambling operations. We don’t want to give too much away but this movie goes a little deeper than Ritchie’s earlier work – perhaps to its detriment. Watch and determine for yourself.
A deviation from the regular gambling high-stakes games we’ve covered previously in this post, Funny Man is a horror comedy where the high stakes are something entirely different. Our central character is Max Taylor, who wins a poker game against a strange man, Callum Chance (as played by Christopher Lee), and as such wins the title to his old mansion.
Cue Max inviting his colorful family and friends around to the house, only to get caught up in the pre-requisite stalk and slash that’s dished out by the creature of the title – Funny Man.
It’s silly, it’s weird, it’s full of kitsch and color, and it’s a fun flick if you’re into this sort of thing. Think like the Evil Dead and you’ll get an idea of the silliness and humor involved.
While lots of the movies on our list today feature illegal gambling operations, you don’t need to go down that route – It’s legal to gamble online in the UK. Save the card counting and stings for these guys instead, and watch their highs and lows in the world of thrill-inducing world of gambling…