Could Gutshot Straight, the latest poker movie due to hit our screens, buck the trend by not being unutterably awful? It may have a hard time convincing us cynics at Casino.org who have pretty much given up on the genre due to the procession of half-cooked turkeys that we’ve been served up in over the last 20 years years: Lucky You, Deal, The Grand, Runner Runner.
Clunkers, the lot of them.
Is Gutshot Straight the new Cincinnati Kid or Rounders? Is it, at the very least, the new California Split? Or will it be a case of Gutshot Straight to DVD? Well, we have to confess, we’ve only seen the trailer, but we’re not holding out much hope.
Jean-Luc Goddard’s famous utterance that all you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun was only half true: he forgot to mention Steven Seagal and Vinnie Jones. Director Justin Steele has made no such mistake in his movie, with the bargain basement bad-asses given free rein to express themselves here.
Neither a Borrower…
The premise, from what we can glean from the trailer, is that our hero, “Jack,” played by George Eads, of CSI fame, has borrowed a large sum of money from a man named Paulie Trunks (Seagal), which he has promptly spewed at the poker table, probably to a sinister figure with a thick foreign accent, although Casino.org is unable to confirm this at the present time. This follows in the fine tradition of all poker movies in that the hero must have terrible bankroll management skills.
We’ve only seen the trailer, but we’re not holding out much hope.
Of course, all great heroes have one fatal flaw, but ours has two: first, the aforementioned bankroll management skills; and second: a tendency to borrow money from a man who looks like he could eliminate an entire crew of terrorists on a US Navy battleship armed with only a set of kitchen utensils, and then repeat the feat a few years later, only this time on a train.
Paulie Trunks, of course, is a psychopath. Cue lots of running about, and there’s some guns and a girl and stuff, which would please Goddard were he still with us, God rest his soul. Whether it will please poker players is another matter entirely.
Telling the Story of Poker
Of course, the best poker films of recent years have been documentaries made by poker players about poker, such as UltimateBeat, which painstakingly chronicles the UltimateBet super-user scandal, or BET RAISE FOLD: The Story of Online Poker. The latter is a collaboration between high stakes poker player Jay Rosenkrantz and director Ryan Firpo, who brought us the online hit Busto to Robusto, as well as the animated online series The Micros.
BET RAISE FOLD was several years in the making. It began as a history of the online poker industry, beginning with the poker boom of 2003, and the impact it had on the lives of three online players, Tony Dunst, Martin Bradstreet and Danielle Anderson. However the film takes a different trajectory in the wake of Black Friday, an event that rocked the world of everyone involved in its making. Rosenkratz says it’s coming of age story about “the boom that manufactured a dream and the forces that took it away”.
“BET RAISE FOLD,” he says, “is not Rounders. This is real, this happened, this is poker.”
It’s a breath of fresh air, and no a guns, nor Vinnie Jones for that matter, in sight.