Heart-Racing Films You Need to Watch
Casinos and gaming have been depicted in different ways in many movies. Casino scenes add to the value and atmosphere of the work. At times, they even help in character-building. For instance, shady gaming establishments, such as in Rounders, can demonstrate how the characters may be a little too carefree and have a devil-may-care attitude. Otherwise, there are also upscale and classy casinos in movies that show the characters’ sophistication, such as in God of Gamblers.
Whether you’re trying your luck with slots or you’re thinking through your strategy in poker, gaming is all about risk — and that’s what makes it so exciting, even if you’re only watching. So if you’re looking for movies that can give you that adrenaline rush, before are poker movies to try:
God of Gamblers
You’d think the world would have heard of any film franchise that has made enough money to create several sequels and spin-offs. Unfortunately, God of Gamblers seems to still be largely unknown in the West. This action, comedy, and drama film from Hong Kong follows the story of Ko Chun, known as the ‘God of Gamblers’.
One day, he reverts to a child-like state due to amnesia and is taken in by someone who realises he has a natural aptitude for poker. As this card game is central to God of Gamblers, the poker scenes are exquisite and thrilling. They’re filled with twists and card tricks, and the final showdown is a psychological game where both players try to push each other to tilt.
Lucky You talks about the journey of Huck Cheever (played by Eric Bana), a regular in Las Vegas poker rooms looking to get a seat in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. And as casino and poker aficionados know, this tournament is a huge event in real life, too. It’s held annually and had its 52nd run this year.
The number of events changes most years, with the WSOP 2021 holding 88 different events over seven weeks. But despite the varying number and kinds of events each WSOP holds, the biggest highlight is always the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em World Championship, also known as the Main Event.
Any player who dreams of entering the WSOP wants to win this event — and Huck is no different. Lucky You follows Huck’s struggles to enter the Main Event. His desperation causes him to end up in debt, and his choices are to either repay that or win a seat in the WSOP. The movie shows how poker has both ruined but also restored his relationships with those around him.
Rounders’ protagonist is also aiming to ultimately get on the WSOP, much like Lucky You’s Huck Cheever. However, this movie follows Mike McDermott, a poker player who has supposedly quit the game, but was dragged back into it again after his childhood friend Lester ‘Worm’ Murphy racks up a $6,000 debt in his name.
They then continue playing in the underground world of high-stakes poker to quickly pay off their debts. But more than money, their lives also end up at stake as they race to repay the debt by the deadline. At the same time, aside from making enough money to beat the deadline, Mike also still aims to win enough to buy a seat in the WSOP.
Of course, we can’t finish this list without talking about one of the most famous casino films. The 2006 film Casino Royale is one of the best James Bond installments, and it shows viewers a new take on the spy saga. It features the beginning of Bond’s career where he earns his double-0 rating — and this allowed Bond to be presented as less experienced and in a more vulnerable light.
In Casino Royale, Bond is sent on an assignment to bankrupt Le Chiffre, a terrorist financier, in a high-stakes poker game in Montenegro’s Casino Royale. The poker game has become iconic for its nail-biting finale, as Bond beats Le Chiffre with a (very unlikely) straight flush, after being previously poisoned and flushed out.