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The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (3-Disc Limited Edition) (DVD & Blu-ray)

10 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (3-Disc Limited Edition) (DVD & Blu-ray) + Opening Night (The John Cassavetes Collection) (DVD & Blu-ray) [1977] + A Woman Under the Influence (The John Cassavetes Collection) (DVD & Blu-ray) [1974]
Price For All Three: £43.95

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Product details

  • Actors: Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel
  • Directors: John Cassavetes
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 15 July 2013
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008K17KE0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,485 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE (3-Disc Limited Edition)

A film by John Cassavetes

Receiving its long-overdue High Definition premiere, as part of this Dual Format three-disc Special Edition, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is John Cassavetes' uncompromising character study of a gangster.

Cassavetes regular Ben Gazzara (Anatomy of a Murder, Husbands, The Big Lebowski), plays a seedy Los Angeles strip-club owner who runs up heavy gambling debts which he arranges to wipe out by murdering an elderly Chinese gangster. Also amongst the cast is Cassavetes regular Seymour Cassel (Faces, Rushmore) and legendary cult actor Timothy Carey (The Killing, Paths of Glory).

Arguably the most plot-driven of his films, Cassavates withdrew The Killing of a Chinese Bookie shortly after the initial release and subsequently re-cut a shorter version with a different opening. Both cuts are made available on the Blu-ray and DVD

This strictly limited edition (of 1,000 units) contains a bonus DVD with the 1993 documentary feature Anything for John, the 1982 short The Haircut, starring Cassavetes, and an interview with The Haircut director Tamar Hoffs.

Special Features

  • Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
  • Includes both the 135 minute and 108 minute re-cut versions
  • Selected scene commentary by Al Rubin and Peter Bogdanovich on long version
  • Anything for John (1993, 90 mins, limited edition DVD only): feature documentary featuring interviews with Cassavetes' collaborators Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk and Al Rubin
  • The Haircut (1982, 24 mins, limited edition DVD only): rare 1982 short starring John Cassavetes
  • Tamar Toffs Interview (1993, 6 mins, limited edition DVD only): the director of The Haircut discusses her film and working with Cassavates
  • Extensive booklet with essays and film credits
  • Strictly limited to 1,050 units

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By rorp on 15 Nov. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This all region Korean DVD is the 1978 re-edit of the film, not the original 1976 version.

On the off chance you are unaware by what this means let me explain:

There are 2 versions of Killing of a Chinese Bookie.
The first is the 1976 version, which is 135 minutes in length.
The second was released in 1978, significantly re-edited by Cassavetes and 108 minutes in length.
This 1978 version is a significantly different film from the 1976 version.

In the latter (1978) version, the order of several scenes has been changed, there are different edits of a few scenes, and there are a few segments unique to the 108-minute version. The bulk of the cutting in the 1978 version removed many of the nightclub routines that were in the 1976 version.

While Cassavetes has his stamp on both films, the 'vibe' of the original film is noticably different.
Personally I think the languid flow of the 76 version is superior to the re-edit. (Although such a pace in the 76 version is both its strength and its weakness. i.e. its excellent, freeing, but too long.)

Anyway, I was expecting the original 1976 version in the post, so I was dissapointed when I got this version instead.

All other aspects of the DVD are as stated. No extras or anything but the presentation seems adequate.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By M. Cole on 13 Jun. 2008
Format: DVD
This is American independent cinema at it's best. It is one of those overlooked gems that is not only a great film, but a great record of its time, even if it might have more properly been titled The Murder Of A Chinese Bookie. As much as I love the early raw films of Martin Scorsese -- who reputedly thought up this tale with Cassavetes a few years earlier -- no film I've ever seen so perfectly captures the mid-1970s underworld. There is a sense that one can even smell the cheap liquor and cigarette smoke that pervades its images. What set Cassavetes apart from his contemporary American peers was that his films did not mythologize -- they simply depicted. In this sense, he did for modern urbanity what German filmmaker Werner Herzog does for historical films, i.e. brings them down to `eye level realism'. He also depicted his society with the same level of universal realism as Yasujiro Ozu did post-war Japan. Like other (usually US) films The Murder... is disturbing and mesmerizing. The dirty quality of images (in some moments bewilderingly amateurish, ins others incredibly sophisticated), the acting, the disjointed plot, the weirdness of some scenes (like the one in the car parking), Gazzara's sublime acting, the wonderful choice of places and times... it all gives you an impression of the States like they really are, not the sanitized image you find in so many Holy-Wood flicks (not all of them, I admit, but about 85%...). Such a movie is like The Searchers or Taxi Driver or Raging Bull, unfathomable and greater than life, but in some way disturbingly like life. And the character of Cosmo Vitelli is one of those enigmatic figures that leaves you wondering whether you have been shown the story of an idiot or the story of a saint. Unforgettable.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By F. V. L. Buliciri on 18 Aug. 2003
Format: VHS Tape
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is a great film. John Cassavetes has directed a masterpiece. I throughly enjoyed this film as it explores the L.A. underworld and all it's shady dealings a world which a lot of people are unaware of. Ben Gazzara is Cosmo Vitelli a strip club owner who incurs debts to the Mob and who is given the unenviable task of killing a rival Chinese gangster - a bookie so that he can pay his debt.It's an interesting film as you see how the underworld in LA operates and also as Cosmo runs a strip club it focuses on his relationship with those who work for him and the underworld society around him.In his line of business sex defintely sells! All I can say is this Ben Gazzara is probably the sexiest nightclub owner I've seen on screen.For anyone who wants to see a Cassavetes film, you have to see this one!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LeBrit on 15 Sept. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I had only viewed the shorter version but the longer version is better in my opinion. A good, sometimes chilling, thought provoking film - Therefore a good one. Blu-ray or Dvd, who cares!!!
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By EGLeeper on 6 Nov. 2014
Format: DVD
The disc I received had both the short and long versions to view. I think a John Cassavetes movie is a real Marmite experience - you either love them or hate them. Nailing my colours to the mast, I think "A woman under the influence" is the greatest proper pure movie ever made so naturally I came to this film with my positive bias specs firmly in place.

The story is very simple - a guy (Ben Gazzara) runs a small cabaret club on Sunset Strip. This is his family and essentially his home and he clearly invests a lot of effort and attention into the enterprise. He loses a lot of money to the mob at a poker game and since he can't pay them back straight away, the quid pro quo is that he has to kill a Chinese bookie on behalf of this particular mafia gang. The mob then try to kill Ben Gazzara (a fairly tense cat and mouse scene in a deserted warehouse). He is shot but makes it back first to his girlfriend's house, where he is turned away and finally back to his "family" at the club. The last scene has him standing on the pavement outside the club gently dripping gore onto the pavement while the show continues inside.

The remarkable thing for me with this movie (as with all the Cassavetes movies I have seen) is the apparent improvisatory nature of the whole thing and the way it is shot - you are right on the shoulder of the characters for about 90% of the time to the point where you can almost smell the greasepaint and the hairspray.

Ben Gazzara, in particular, gives a fabulous 4D performance of a guy with not inconsiderable integrity trying to do the very best he can in less than ideal circumstances.
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