Rounders


I can't believe I caught a hanger!

From Rounders

The movie Rounders portrays an epic yet more modern twist on the classic gambling movie. Directed by John Dahl, this film gained great acclaim after its release in 1998. In Rounders, Matt Damon stars as Mike McDermott, a self proclaimed gambler with a love for cards. The main story involves Mike striving desperately to manage his new life as a respectable law student with girlfriend Jo, (Gretchen Mol), while at the same time trying to avoid falling back into the corrupted world of gambling. However, after losing $30,000 playing a game of Texas Hold’em up with Russian mobster Teddy ‘KGB’, (John Malkovich), and promising his girlfriend Jo that he will not return to gambling on card games, Mike is effectively drawn back into the world of poker by his friend ‘Worm’ (Edward Norton), who needs his help to pay off a substantial debt of $15,000.

Although Mike is aware of the promise he made to his girlfriend Jo, and his study commitments, he is also torn over his responsibility to his friend. Cards are probably Mike’s biggest passion in life, and as you might imagine, it doesn’t take much persuasion on Worm’s part to lure him back into his old habits. To the dismay of his girlfriend, Mike is eventually forced to play a head to head poker game with his arch rival Teddy ‘KGB’ to resolve the debt. The poker games in Rounders are filmed magnificently, and there is a real air of tension and unease between the characters which makes for some brilliant scenes. The final poker match sees both Mike and Teddy ‘KGB’ staking huge sums of money on their hands.

John Dahl’s script is seemingly flawless, and ensures the viewer a level of appreciation for the addictiveness and social ties that can become explicit and intertwined by those who gamble high stakes on poker games. Damon really manages to add a persuasive and slick edge to this movie, and by casting Damon alongside Malkovich, Rounders also gains a level of humour which is often lacking in most movies of this genre. Of course Gretchen Mol plays her part as Mike’s girlfriend very convincingly, and provides an outsiders perspective on the social downsides of this addiction. If you are into poker and gambling then this movie will really make you feel as though you are in the thick of the action.

During its first week of opening, Rounders managed to bring in 8.5 million dollars, and overall, Rounders made 22.9 million dollars domestically. While many gambling films have quite a bleak outlook and focus on the unpleasant aspects of the addiction, Rounders probably proved successful because it flipped this focus on its head. Rounders follows the old premise of the underdog movie where the hero faces ultimate disaster and then, at the last minute, manages to resolve all his problems by taking the greatest risk of all. However, without Matt Damon playing the role of Mike, this film might have lost the drive that John Dahl so obviously wanted his hero to portray. John Malkovich also deserves a significant ovation for his role as Teddy ‘KGB’. Together Damon and Malkovich really give this film that edge which has so obviously made Rounders the cult classic it is today.

Although in terms of its gross intake, Rounders was not considered the most lucrative film release, over the past ten years, Rounders has gained a significant following. The fan base on the Internet is just staggering. While many movies have been produced that portray poker, Rounders is triumphant in the fact it manages to provide the viewer with a real sense of the tension and vigour that each player puts into the game. For most fans, Rounders is often referred to as the greatest poker movie of all time. It has a quirkiness and slick edge to it that truly makes it stand head and shoulders above most other gambling movies that have been released. John Dahl’s script for Rounders really does inspire a real feeling for the game. Even if you are not a big gambler you will find Rounders to be quite enthralling and exquisitely executed from start to finish. Rounders is an exceptional masterpiece, and will probably remain one of the most highly rated poker movies of all time, for many years to come.

A movie with the combination of the likes of Matt Damon, Edward Norton, and John Malkovich can’t help but promise good reviews. But, no matter how good the castings are, viewers will find them useless if the plot won’t be able to hold them off from their seats.

“Rounders” fortunately had these two most important ingredients to make it a hit, the best characters and the best plot. And these two ingredients categorize the viewers into two, those who are after the plot and those who are after the casts.

For the plot, “Rounders” is practically revolving around high-stakes poker playing. The movie gives the viewers a look of what happens inside these arenas where players are having all sorts of motivations and means to topple their opponents. For viewers who have a fair share of experiences in the world of poker playing, it is very amusing to be able to relate to the characters when it comes to card playing. It also gives sheer delight to viewers to hear exchanges of dialogues which involve poker terms.

“Rounders” also projects the sensitive sides of the games. First of that is, the reality that the chance you will be hooked is the opposite of the chance that you will be making it big. Second is, the lies that the players need to perpetually make to play around. And third is that there are certain bonds which tie the poker players with each other, which may have the same positive and negative results in the end.

For the casts, it was predictable that Matt Damon, Edward Norton and John Malkovich got the role. They are the most prominent subtle action stars that fit the characters of poker-players. It's like their own mba program except at poker instead of education.

Matt Damon plays as a law-school student in the “Rounders” and he was hooked-up when he lost a great amount of money in poker. With Matt Damon’s previous action highlights in The Bourne series and The Good Shepherd, he was the only choice to do the “Rounders”. And as expected, he made justice playing as the soft-spoken Mike McDermott. Matt Damon’s acting skills are not theatrical and he says less in this movie compared to the other characters. However, his role is meaty enough for viewers to enjoy his presence.

Edward Norton on the other hand plays the half-bad, half-good guy friend of Matt Damon. He plays as “Worm”. Similar to Matt Damon, “Rounders” won’t be a success without Edward Norton because he was the only one who can nail this role. Norton had been able to play all sorts of roles which involved mind playing. And “Rounders” had every bit of the make up of a mind-tactical plot. Hearing Norton and Damon’s exchange of dialogues in between the games may be a bit mind-numbing for those who doesn’t understand poker, but still seeing them together onscreen, with their expressions clearly projected, is certainly worth the viewer’s time.

John Malkovich’s role on this film is very short and can quite disappoint his multitudes of movie followers. However, short as they are, the moments when you see John will certainly be memorable. He still has the same sinister look that you often see in his other movies. John played as the club owner which gave Matt Damon the hard time to free up his debts and at the same time his passion for poker. His poker exhibitions with Matt are very interesting to watch even if a viewer is not into poker. You can just be amazed on how fast they play these cards, assuming you don’t know how movie effects are being done these days.

Generally, “Rounders” is not for the thrill-seekers who love banging explosions and graphic violence. There’s no adventure per se watching them flick the cards. However, it’s a film not void of suspense. You just have to intently watch it and stay on your seat to appreciate the underlying circumstances that trigger the suspense. The emotions on these movies are subtle but still can be felt as minutes of viewing pass by. “Rounders” is not a cowboy movie garnished with gambling scenes. It’s a brilliant film which doesn’t only shows how poker is being played underground but also the way how players deal with personal issues on their lives which are being brought upon by just simply being hooked with poker-playing.

The film Rounders starring, Matt Damon, Edward Norton, Gretchen Mol, John Malkovich, John Turturro, Famke Janssen and Josh Mostel was directed by John Dahl on the subject of the game poker and its connections with the underground world of gambling. Released on the 11th of September 1998 and distributed by Miramax Films, Rounders is a film blessed with excellent performances by Edward Norton and Matt Damon. The supporting cast of the film too has been acclaimed for their magnificent performance. Rounders opened to packed houses and just in the opening weekend of its release it grossed $ 8.5 million and was considered to be a grand hit.

Shot in New York the story of the film Rounders revolves around the game of poker and its underworld associations. A young poker player Mike played by Matt Damon who loses all his money in a hand of Texas hold'em (a popular poker game in poker card rooms and casinos in North America and Europe) against a Russian mobster Teddy "KGB" played by John Malkovich. Devastated by this loss Mike vows never to return to the game of poker and instead opts to concentrate on his law school studies and takes up a part-time job of driving a delivery truck for his livelihood.

One day Mike borrows his girl friend (played by Gretchen Mol) Jo’s car to pick up his best friend Les "Worm" Murphy played by Edward Norton who was being released from prison. Actually Les "Worm" was the person or rounder who taught Mike the game of poker. With his association with Les, once again Mike is lured into the gambling world of poker forgetting his promises made to his girlfriend that he would never play again.

Mike helps Worm to acquire money in order to pay off his debts that had accrued before he was imprisoned. Mike is actually unaware that his friend Worm owes $ 25000 to Gramma (played by Michael Rispoli) and Teddy KGB the Russian mobster. Mike was also taken aback when he learned that Worm had put him into lots of debts in spite of him trying to help him. Meanwhile Worm gets in trouble due his debts and both Mike and Worm meet Gramma to convince him that the money would be paid on time.

Both of them enter the arena of poker once again to make as much money as possible so that they can pay back the money to Gramma as promised. Mike plays for about sixty hours and all he is able to make is just $ 7000. Worm suggests that they go to a municipal workers game in Binghamton where they would be able to make the rest of the money. Mike opts to play alone so that no one knows that both of them are professionals. Mike plays and wins a lot of money. One of the officers invites Worm to join them in the game. As they play one of the officers suspects Worm of foul play and this is the time when things start going wrong again. Both of them are accused of cheating and are thrown out of the room. All their hard earned money is stolen and both of them are back to square one. Mike suggests that they should meet Gramma and ask him for more time to pay off the money. Worm is now frightened to go back to the town and admits to Mike that it is not Gramma to whom the money has to be paid but it is Teddy KGB (the Russian mobster) who owes the money.

Mike tries to convince Gramma who refuses to extend the time. In the mean time Mike meets Judge Petrovsky who is convinced about Mike’s dilemma and offers to help him. Judge Petrovsky loans Mike $ 10000. Mike now uses this money and employs his skills of poker into action by playing against Teddy KGB. The climax of the movie is extremely engrossing where Mike makes a lot of money against Teddy KGB who is so infuriated by his defeat that he bets all of his money over the game and finally loses all of it making Mike once again the king of Poker.

The climax of the movie captures the intense moments of the game of poker. The fabulous performance of all the actors and an excellent touch of direction by John Dahl make “Rounders” a very interesting, entertaining and a not to be missed film.

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