The world of cinema has witnessed a plethora of captivating casino movies emerging from Europe in the last two decades. Classic heists like “Run Lola Run” and British crime comedy “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” have become timeless gems in their own right. If you’re looking for more European casino movies to add to your watchlist, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list that guarantees to keep you entertained until the last minute.
Run Lola Run (1998)
This German action thriller revolves around a prestigious card game. The story follows a young woman, played by Franka Potente, who races against time to save her lover’s life. Directed and written by Tom Tykwer, the film has achieved instant classic status since its release. With its unique and fast-paced style, “Run Lola Run” earned over $90 million at the box office and an impressive 8.2/10 rating on IMDB. It has also won several awards, including two BAFTAs.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
This British black comedy crime film, written and directed by Guy Ritchie, features an ensemble cast including Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran, Jason Statham, Steven Mackintosh, Vinnie Jones, and Sting. The plot revolves around four working-class friends in London who pool their money to play a high-stakes game of poker against a powerful local bandit. Despite their odds, they emerge victorious but quickly find themselves entangled in trouble with the bandit. “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” grossed over $30 million worldwide and holds an 8.1/10 rating on IMDB. It is hailed as one of Ritchie’s best works.
Casino Royale (2006)
This James Bond film, serving as the 21st installment in the series, is based on Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel. Starring Daniel Craig as James Bond, the story revolves around his mission to defeat a private banker who funds terrorists through a high-stakes poker game at Casino Royale in Montenegro. “Casino Royale” was highly acclaimed by both critics and audiences, grossing over $600 million at the box office and earning an 8.0/10 rating on IMDb. The film garnered multiple awards, including BAFTAs for Best Sound and Special Visual Effects. It is considered one of the finest films in the Bond franchise, praised for its action sequences, performances, and gripping plot.
Christmas Present (1986)
Directed by Pupi Avati, this classic Italian comedy tells the tale of a group of old friends reuniting on Christmas Eve with a plan to trick a wealthy industrialist into a game of poker. Screened in competition at the 43rd Venice International Film Festival, “Christmas Present” received high praise from critics. With an IMDB rating of 7.6/10 and a box office gross of $2.5 million, this film is considered one of the best Italian releases of the 1980s. It captivates audiences with its witty dialogue and powerful performances by the actors.
The Other Side of Hope (2017)
This Finnish comedy-drama, written, produced, and directed by Aki Kaurismäki, depicts the journeys of two different individuals in search of a home: a poker restaurant owner and a Syrian refugee. “The Other Side of Hope” garnered positive reviews upon its release, grossing over $3 million at the box office and earning a 7.2/10 rating on IMDB. Critics, including the renowned Roger Ebert, praised the film for its melancholic comedy and poignant response to the global refugee crisis.
Directed by Mike Hodges, this new British crime drama stars Clive Owen. It follows the story of an aspiring writer who becomes a croupier in a London casino, only to find himself ensnared in a criminal conspiracy involving his own gambling activities. Despite its modest budget, “Dealer” received widespread acclaim for its intense atmosphere and engaging plot. The film grossed over $15 million worldwide and holds a 7/10 rating on IMDB. Critics lauded its unique fusion of film noir and gambling elements into one captivating narrative.
The City Plays (1975)
Directed by Damiano Damiani, this Italian crime drama stars Gian Maria Volonté and Marina Berti. The plot follows a police detective investigating an illegal gambling ring at a city casino. Despite grossing a modest $1.7 million at the box office, “The City Plays” carries a strong moral message and garnered critical acclaim. It holds a 6.5/10 rating on IMDb and is widely regarded as one of the finest Italian crime dramas ever produced.
This Franco-Norwegian black comedy film, co-written and directed by Bent Hamer, is adapted from Charles Bukowski’s 1975 novel. Matt Dillon stars as Hank Chinaski, Bukowski’s fictional alter ego, who wanders around Los Angeles attempting to make a living through odd jobs. “Done” grossed $1.7 million at the box office and holds a 6.6/10 rating on IMDB. It has been praised for its unique style and exceptional performances by both critics and audiences.
According to those well-versed in poker, “Gun” is an Anglo-French gangster movie written and directed by Guy Ritchie. The film boasts a cast including Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Vincent Pastore, and Andre Benjamin. It revolves around Jake Green, a con artist burdened with a debt to a gang leader after swindling his money. With the assistance of a mysterious gambler dubbed “Professor,” Jake endeavors to amass enough money to repay his debt. “Gun” holds a 6.3/10 rating on IMDB and earned $15 million at the box office. Critics applauded its sleek visuals and clever script, though some felt it was overly complex or reminiscent of Ritchie’s prior works.
Funny Man (1994)
This British comedy horror film, written and directed by Simon Sprackling, stars Benny Young, Christopher Lee, Tim James, and more. The story revolves around Max Taylor, a record producer who wins a stately home in England through a poker game. However, he soon realizes that he is being haunted by an evil clown with a lethal agenda targeting his family. “Funny Man” earned $1.2 million at the box office and holds a 4.4/10 rating on IMDB. It has been acclaimed for its dark and twisted concept, drawing inspiration from Punch and Judy, Freddy Krueger, and possibly influencing the “Saw” series.
For those new to the European casino movie scene, this list of the best European casino movies will undoubtedly serve as a great inspiration and motivation to try your luck at European casinos.