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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

High Stakes Poker

Shade (2003) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Gambler's Royal
FlushUnderground poker champ Frank "The Dean" Stevens (Sly Stallone) is getting on in years and doesn't want to have to defend his position from every upstart card shark wanting his title. He plans to play one last big match before settling down with his former lover Eve (Melanie Griffith) and help her run her restaurant/bar. Mean­while, mischief is heading his way.

Grifters Charlie “The Steer” Miller (Gabriel Byrne) and Tiffany “The Turn” (Thandie Newton) are motoring west in a convertible with a box of rings in the back, playing a lost-ring con along the way. In Las Vegas they meet up with a former team member, bent black­jack dealer Vernon “The Mechanic” (Stuart Townsend) who with their help will take on “The Dean.” To help raise their needed stake, Tiffany picks up Larry “The Cross” Jennings (Jamie Foxx) from a gambling table in another club, to be a new face in a soft poker game they have rigged.

Things get complicated in L.A. After the Atlantic City fiasco, Vernon must put behind him Tiffany's personal betrayal with Charlie, while Tiffany is pain­fully equivocal. They've lost Larry—may he R.I.P.—after he lost his shirt, their stake, and $80 large of the mob's dough, too. The mob is after them now on principle. In the midst of multiple con­fron­tations, they discover how “The Dean” is cheating.


This movie provides some small but valuable insights into success theory, in the fashion of, (Prov. 30:24) “There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:” We see here the early start at earning money as recommended in, (Prov. 30:25) “The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.” Start earning income in your youth, i.e. the summer of life. Young Stevens (Jason Cerbone) “was younger than I was when he started playing the big time.” He “learn[ed] in fast company, sitting with mobsters, not for the money, just to hone his chops.” He “was mucking cards since before you were born.” Vernon for his part was a “magic boy” apprenticed to stage magician The Professor (Hal Holbrook) with whom he would “stay up all night just discussing one move.” That was “before [Charlie & Tiffany] rescued you” to make money at it.

(Prov. 30:26) “The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks.” Location is a seemingly minor factor but it's very important. The grifters in this movie—as in other movies—hung out at the P Lounge and the Magic Caastle frequented by many other card men with whom they shared ideas. The Dean had his playing territory staked out at the Roosevelt Hotel to which he'd return as needed. Tiffany had a love nest set up to return to with men in order to earn money at S&M. Larry had a good table in a regular club, which he unfortu­nately forsook for the promise of “a hell of an opportunity, Larry” in elegant surroundings that turned out to be a Potemkin Village.

(Prov. 30:27) “The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands.” Success involves having the right cohorts. As The Dean told The Mechanic when his buddies topped off his cash, “It's good to have friends.” The mobsters actually have a whole philosophy developed around this point.

In one grim scene, mob heavies Marlo (Roger Guenveur Smith) and Nate (B–Real) are seated across from some schmuck all trussed up and with duct tape across his mouth. Marlo lectures him on respect: “I think respect is one of the para­mount tenets of human relations. It says in the Bible, ‘Thou shalt respect thy mother and thy father.’ I respect Mr. Malini. He has respected me as a father respects his son. We respected you, but frankly you disappointed us.” At this point they are inter­rupted by a phone call passing on some vital infor­mation concerning Larry's squandering of mob money, where­upon they leave to pay him a visit. He'll be in the hot seat next.

That scene would correspond to Noah and his three sons: (Gen. 9:18-19) “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth over­spread.” Shem the spokes­man would be paired up with Japheth as was Marlo with Nate his backup. Canaan would inherit the fate of his father Ham as would Larry that of the schmuck. Mr. Malini is the big father figure like Noah, to be respected.

(Gen. 9:20-23) “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the naked­ness of his father, and told his two brethren with­out. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went back­ward, and covered the naked­ness of their father; and their faces were back­ward, and they saw not their father's naked­ness.” Here Shem and Japheth respected their father Noah, but Ham was a big disappointment.

(Gen. 9:24-27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son [Ham] had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Ham being the disap­point­ment, his offspring (Canaan) would share his fate of servitude (being all trussed up) passed down to succeeding generations through the mechanism of respect for thy father, generation after generation. (Jasher 73:35) “For the Lord our God gave Ham the son of Noah, and his children and all his seed, as slaves to the children of Shem and to the children of Japheth, and unto their seed after them for slaves, forever.”

In our movie the muscle discusses that rigged poker game with Larry whom they pegged as “The Mark.” Larry had found an ally in another black player who agreed to “keep it black.” A little bit of segregation going on here. Japheth was to be integrated with (to dwell in the tents of) Shem. From Shem come the Semites, of course. Writer Bodie Hodge holds forth that: “Generally, from the Middle East in the land of Shinar (modern-day Iraq, where Babel was), Japheth's descendants went north toward Europe and Asia, Ham's went toward Africa, and Shem's remained in the Middle East” (183). The servitude of Ham as passing to his youngest son Canaan also encompassed his eldest son Cush, see Gen. 10:6. Cush is Hebrew for black, whose descendants settled in Africa. So here we are.

Martin Luther King
Jr.From a watershed “I have a Dream” speech, delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. on August 28, 1963, I cite:

We have come … to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children.

Larry's card table rantings, trying to get the players to bet real money, were a dead ringer for the above sentiments: “This is a nice house, man. We should be playing some bigger hands. What's with the arcade money? I spend more money than this on a strip club.” The other players complain, “Where'd you get this big mouth? Thought we had a civilized game.” Finally, there's some real money in the pot: their stake, Larry's (subsidized) stake, and the mob's unwitting stake. Oh, he looks so happy when he's about to rake in that money. But he hasn't seen the other player's hand yet. I don't want to give away the out­come, but we know how it worked out in our real life. Robert H. Bork in Slouching Towards Gomorrah (238) writes:

[Researchers] Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer … quote Charles Murray: “There's hardly a single outcome—black voting rights, access to public accommodation, employment, particularly in white collar jobs—that couldn't have been predicted on the basis of pre-1964 trend lines.” “That's pretty devastating,” the authors say. “It suggests that we have spent trillions of dollars to create an out­come that would have happened even if the govern­ment had done nothing.”

In other words gradualism would have worked just as well. A top-heavy federal insistence on equality does an end run around the mutual respect entailed in gradualism, in which a man's own interests must be aligned with those of others per the proverb we are discussing—neither the movie nor this review is intended to be political. The mobsters don't think Larry's black life matters all that much. And to add insult to injury, a crooked vice cop John Scarne (Bo Hopkins) pus the squeeze on the stones of a black man watching the lobby. Ouch!

There is a nice contrast, however, with the way Tiffany handles a lowlife Jeff (Rod —) who is getting abusive. She aligns her­self with a support team as did women in the #MeToo movement.

(Prov. 30:28) “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.” Finally one needs to take hold of his own niche. The Dean had it made and then went for a quiet retirement.

Production Values

” (2003) was written and directed by Damien Neiman. It was released in only one theater in 2004 for about one month, then came out as a DVD. It had a great cast that included: Stuart Townsend, Gabriel Byrne, Thandie Newton, Jamie Foxx, Melanie Griffith, and Sly Stallone. The acting was very good. Townsend is excellent as the mechanic who did his own card tricks. Jamie Foxx really stood out as an unsus­pecting dude with high hopes. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

MPAA rated it R for language, violence and sexuality/nudity. Music included Mozart and pop hits. The flashy card tricks—and there were plenty of them—employed neither CGI nor hand inserts but the real deal. The time line gets broken up as does the perspective, but some crafty editing helps us keep track of it all. How Larry lost on a hand that he himself shuffled & dealt is shown in a rerun later in the film; he didn't know what hit him. The card players' patois was a delight.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

I don't recommend taking up a life of gambling, but this gambling flick does present many universal ideas that will stand one in good stead in any endeavor. Joining the mob is not the way to go either, but their lecture on and example of respect is better than a lot of sermons I've heard. This movie is very enter­taining although it covers a lot of territory we've seen before. It's technically well produced.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

The Book of Jasher. Trans­lated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, WEB.

Bork, Robert H. Slouching Towards Gomorrah. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. Print.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.

King Jr, Martin Luther: The Peaceful Warrior. New York: Pocket Books, 1968. Web.