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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Always leave yourself outs"
I have watched this movie several times in the last few years, and have been playing Texas Hold'em for a similar amount of time. When this special edition came out, I knew I had to check it out; and I was not disappointed, since besides the great movie, it includes a nice collection of extras.
Mike (Damon) is a grinder that plays poker as if it was a job. He has used...
Published on 2 Jun 2005 by Sebastian Fernandez

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Now look here, I like cards, but give me some character substance to make me care about the players, eh?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Rounders is directed by John Dahl and written by David Levien & Brian Koppelman. It stars Matt Damon, Edward Norton, John Turturro, John Malkovich, Gretchen Mol, Famke Janssen & Martin Landau. Music is by Christopher Young and Jean-Yves Escoffier is the cinematographer on location in New York & New Jersey. Film is based...
Published on 30 Jan 2011 by Spike Owen


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Always leave yourself outs", 2 Jun 2005
By 
Sebastian Fernandez (Tampa, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have watched this movie several times in the last few years, and have been playing Texas Hold'em for a similar amount of time. When this special edition came out, I knew I had to check it out; and I was not disappointed, since besides the great movie, it includes a nice collection of extras.
Mike (Damon) is a grinder that plays poker as if it was a job. He has used his skills to pay his way through law school by gambling day after day without falling outside the boundaries of his method. But now something clicked and he is making a run for it. He goes to the underground club of Teddy KGB (Malkovich), a man highly connected with the Russian mob, carrying along all his savings and trading them for three stacks of high society ($30,000) to try to pave his way to Vegas.
It seems that the advice of a friend will save him from his fate when Joey Knish (Turturro) tries to dissuade him from going for it, but Mike disregards the advice and takes his chances. When Mike doesn't follow his cardinal rule (title of this review), Teddy KGB busts him for all his money. Now he is so disappointed that he decides to quit the game, takes up a job working Joey's truck and promises his girlfriend not to gamble anymore. When Worm (Norton) an old friend from school comes out of jail, Mike is tempted to go for it again. The fact that Worm is a cheat and owes money to influential people just complicates things.
This movie presents an interesting tour of the world of gambling, and if you are interested in poker you will certainly like it. You will also get the chance to see several pros in action, in a few scenes of the movie and in the extras. For those that watch poker on TV and see the glamour surrounding it, you will also get to see a more real depiction of what a professional player that is not on the top goes through.
In terms of the acting, the cast does a great job. Edward Norton is outstanding in the role of Worm, the light-headed trickster who has a history of messing up and who will not stop before getting Mike back into the action. Matt Damon plays his lead role with conviction, and the research he did on poker helps convey his confidence to the viewer. In terms of the supporting cast, Turturro and Malkovich are praiseworthy, so much so that I have always wanted to have the same poise at the poker table that Malkovich, when portraying Teddy KGB, shows in the beginning of the movie.
As I mentioned, the main plus of this new edition is the DVD extras. First, you get an interactive game of Hold'em in which you have to determine whether the correct option is to call, raise or fold, and a tutorial for those who need help learning the game. If you are new to poker this will be interesting, but if you are an average player or above you will probably get bored by it very fast. The behind the scenes feature takes a look at the world of poker, and how the creators decided to go with a movie on this subject. I liked the care they took in researching the topic and showing believable hands in the film, as well as in using specific poker terms. There is also a segment with professional poker players commenting on what the game is, and hammering home the notion that on the long run poker is not a game of luck. The Champion Poker Tips with Johnny Chan, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Phil Hellmuth and Chris Moneymaker are insightful, but do not focus on specific hands, but on overall strategy instead. Finally, you get the chance of watching the movie with two different sets of commentators, either with the four pros just mentioned or with the director and screenwriters.
As you probably figured out by this point, this is a must have DVD. It has everything a good production should have, a great film, interesting extras, and outstanding image and sound quality. Trust me, you cannot go wrong with this one!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Now look here, I like cards, but give me some character substance to make me care about the players, eh?, 30 Jan 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Rounders [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Rounders is directed by John Dahl and written by David Levien & Brian Koppelman. It stars Matt Damon, Edward Norton, John Turturro, John Malkovich, Gretchen Mol, Famke Janssen & Martin Landau. Music is by Christopher Young and Jean-Yves Escoffier is the cinematographer on location in New York & New Jersey. Film is based around the underground world of high stakes poker. Plot sees Poker playing law student Mike McDermott (Damon) team up with his Poker playing ex-con best friend Lester "Worm" Murphy (Norton) to try and raise some serious cash. The cash is needed because "Worm" has saddled them both with high debts, the sort of debts that can get you killed.

In the years since Rounders was released to mixed reviews and a Luke warm box office, Poker has really taken off to become a hugely popular television staple. So it's perhaps no surprise to learn that John Dahl's Poker based movie has gained a cult following. It's also found momentum due to a number of pro Poker players citing it as either the reason they got into Poker playing, or that it's the best Poker movie ever. High praise indeed, then. Yet for someone like me who doesn't play the game, but most assuredly loves a good sports movie, the film has too much wrong with it to deserve such plaudits.

First off is Damon, a fine actor, but not in this role. He never once convinces that he needs to play Poker, let alone play himself into a life and death struggle due to his borderline volatile best friend. He looks and seems out of place throughout, his boyish charm undercuts what little tension there actually is. While his relationship with Norton (turning in a good show) is never interesting or spiky enough to form a solid core from which the film can grow. Dahl merely uses their relationship as intermittent fillers as we jump from one Poker table to the next. Cue one moment when Mike's girl (Mol barely getting time to breath let alone act), who "shock shock" hates cards, leaves him; a period of refection for a moment, a life is cards summary and bingo, lets go play cards! I'd have laughed if it wasn't so insulting.

What is totally humorous is Malkovich, who after promising much in the beginning as brooding Russian gangster Teddy KGB, descends into pantomime farce for the "supposed" nail biting finale. His accent so ludicrous you wonder if you have been whisked into a Hanna-Barbera cartoon whilst you sneaked a peak at your cards. There's also no surprise with the outcome. Poker may be a sport not often filmed on the big screen, but this is a traditional sports movie across the table. Janssen (as yummy as ever) threatens to be a great teasing character but isn't given anything to get her teeth into; which when one considers the director likes his peccadilloes to be film noirish is a surprise. And Landau, too, is given lightweight fluff to work from as a kindly professor type who seems more token than earnest.

On the plus side. Escoffier's photography is neat and on the money, particularly for the first quarter as we go into seedy card dens that are dimly lit and tinted by cigar smoke. While Young's score is unobtrusive and deserving of a better film to accompany it. Away from the seemingly always watchable Norton, it's Turturro who comes out the brightest with his non histrionic and believable portrayal of Joey Knish. A sensible and honest character in a film that lacks enough of either of those traits. Utterly predictable and smug into the bargain, Rounders, it seems, is for Poker players only. 4/10
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insight on poker, 4 Dec 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Rounders (VHS Tape)
This film reveals the important aspects of being a great poker player. It has a simple plot which involves Matt Damon's character, 'Mike McDermott', narrating throughout. There are constant references to World Class poker players such as Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson which enhance your understanding of the game.
If you have an interest in the poker, you'll love this film. After watching it, I started to play "Texas Hold'em" and I've never regretted it.
Rounders is one of those films that you can watch over again - I know I have.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Leyt they-at main hef hiyis muney", 12 Aug 2009
I have just rewatched Rounders after a giving it a break of a few years. Having learned a bit about poker since my last viewing, I wanted to see if I could get any kind of different perspective on the film, which I had previously already enjoyed.

The film is most praise-worthy for daring to include so much technical detail from a specialist field, rather than glossing over it - see "Wind" for an example of how directors happily leave out fundamentals for the sake of entertainment.

It's also irresistible for combining such strong talents as Ed Norton, John Turturro & John Malkovich - three names that readily grab my attention.

Matt Damon is well cast but is wooden even by his standards. The scenes with his girlfriend are pretty poor. And - note to screenplay writer - would such a great strategist be so dumb with his girlfriend? (who, for the record, was far too uptight for ANY guy).

Turturro is pretty great, as usual, but unfortunately appears in a fairly unimportant role. I love the name Knish - it makes me think of the Fun Lovin' Criminals.

Norton's character is well played but lacks depth. A supporting storyline providing more insight into his behaviour or redeeming the audience emotionally in some way could have made this a great Norton role.

Malkovich is very entertaining - never more so than with his "stick it in you" line - but I have to reluctantly conclude that he has created a caricature rather than a character, and this has to be one of his worst performances. Unfortunately this is no superhero movie with crazy characters. "Een my clarb I splatch the farking powt wayne oi warnt". It was a nice try, but if any Russian actually spoke like that, there surely would have been more to the Cold War.

All in all, Rounders is essential viewing for an insight into the game of poker and is entertaining if you can keep up with the table scenes, but it's no full house.

Sidenote: It also gives a good insight on how to win an old man's adoration and then extort him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Norton and Damon are great, 17 April 2006
By 
David Welsh (Oslo, Norway) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This film about two professional poker players, with its competant but pedestrian writing and direction, would be fairly unremarkable if it wasn't for two important factors: Matt Damon and Edward Norton. These two outstandingly gifted actors lift the film out of mediocrity and make it engaging and a real delight to watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rounders, 20 July 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Rounders [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
This is a film for the poker player. If you dont know how to play poker it can still be enjoyed but the poker players out there will feel the thrills a little more keenly. Rounders is a well researched film which gives a very good feel for the poker world, a little extreme perhaps, but the core emotions of the game are well portrayed. If you dont play poker and want to know what all the fuss is about this film might give you some idea. Rounders follows the fortunes of a law student(Damon)who plays poker to make money, going around to all the games in and around New York to earn the money to pay for his education. Through the course of the film we are brought along on quite a rollercoaster of changing fortunes and high stakes gambling but the film is consistantly focused around poker. Even if you dont play cards at all, this is still a cracking good yarn, and the performances by Norton and Damon are excellent. Definately worth a watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Ageless Tale, 7 May 2004
By 
PokerPro (PokerTown, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rounders [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
This Movie is more than just gambling and playing poker. The gambling is merely the backdrop for the ageless tale of the decisions that many young men must face as they grow into manhood. It has the classic decision of having to choose between love and friendship. Also, the decision that many of us have faced of taking on a profession in something that you love to do (poker) or doing what everyone else believes is the responsible thing to do (law).
While Mike Struggles with making these timeless decisions, he constantly find himself at odds with the seedy underbelly of the New York and New Jersey gambling scene. Threats of violence, tales of poker, and a cast of characters with a wide range of personalities make this movie a must SEE. Have Fun!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, put Texas Hold-em on the map!, 7 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Rounders [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
It's rare to see a movie on this subject let alone one with as much realism and a thoroughly convincing storyline. Damon and Norton both have great screen presence and manage to really get a grip on what it means to be a Rounder!
I've played professional poker now for 5 years and believe that this movie helped make Texas Hold-em Poker more popular.(Certainly in the UK!)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good., 3 Aug 2006
Matt Damon is Mike McDermott, a law student who is also a gambler. He is trying hard to stay away from poker and focus on his studies but... I won't spoil it for you by telling anymore. All I can say is the film is very good. You won't regret spending your time on watching it despite Malkovich's dodgy Russian accent :). Performances are solid with Damon and Norton keeping you interested all the way till the end. Good film.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the poker addicts., 23 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Rounders (VHS Tape)
To start, this is a great movie cause of the lineup, Matt Damon, Ed Norton and John Malkovich are incredible in this movie. Then the story is really good too, the "pure" player versus the machiavellian do anything to win, like the dark and light side of poker.
Sometimes the player jargon gets a little tricky and Damon goes off into these long narrations, but it serves to explain the human part of the game, the reading of signs which is essential.
If you play poker, you'll love rounders. I strongly recommend you watch it.
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