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2,524 Ratings

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

Directed by John Cassavetes
United States, 1976


The sleazy proprietor of a gentleman’s club is obessed with pretense of gentility despite the seedy underbelly of his establishment and his own unsavoury habits. When he racks up a debt with a bunch of mobsters, his only way out threatens his whole world.

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The Killing of a Chinese Bookie Directed by John Cassavetes
Cassavetes captures the gambler’s fatalistic joy in playing out a tragedy of his own making to the bitter end, and, revelling in the romantic solitude of the hunter and the hunted, presents a gun battle as a metal-and-concrete ballet. At the club, Cosmo’s afflictions are mirrored by the routines of his painted, dandyish m.c., Mr. Sophistication, an artiste of degraded, obsolete charm, whose a-cappella renditions of Hollywood chestnuts evoke the ruinous pursuit of an impossible dream.
September 08, 2017
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For all its superficial generic trappings, the picture is a free-flowing movement of irrational behaviour and digressions in dialogue and narrative advancement, something that gives Killing a rhythm and pacing stilted by prolonging – or avoiding – resolution.
July 10, 2016
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Few narrative films so indelibly give the impression of being on the verge of collapse as The Killing of a Chinese Bookie does. Conversations between its characters ramble around the subjects at hand, peppered with tangential anecdotes, limericks, puns, and other verbal curlicues. Al Ruban’s camera dances woozily, and occasionally shakes violently to obscure the details of physical conflict when it happens, as isolated pools of red and blue nightclub light dilate and recede under oiled lenses.
February 15, 2016
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