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Greg Francis
Beau Mirchoff, Titus Welliver, Michael Eklund, Ron Eldard, Corey Large, Halston Sage, Giancarlo Esposito, Ron Perlman
Writing Credits:
Greg Francis

In this twisted thriller, a young detective becomes an unwilling participant in a sadistic game of cat-and-mouse when he is kidnapped by a masked serial killer. In order to survive, the detective must use the wisdom imparted to him by senior detectives on their regular poker night.

Not Rated

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 106 min.
Price: $20.99
Release Date: 2/10/2015

• Trailer
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Poker Night [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 10, 2015)

With a title like Poker Night, one might expect the 2014 film to provide a raunchy comedy along the lines of The Hangover. One would expect incorrectly, however, as Poker Night instead brings us a dark thriller.

Newly-minted police detective Stan Jeter (Beau Mirchoff) goes to check out a domestic disturbance and winds up in a complicated situation. As he tries to help a distraught, disheveled young woman named Amy (Halston Sage), a mysterious masked sadist (Michael Eklund) tazes Jeter, ties him to a chair and imprisons him for an extended period.

As he remains a captive, Jeter flashes back to his poker nights with colleagues. He uses the lessons he learned from these veteran officers to figure out how to escape from his current predicament.

If nothing else, this creates an unusual, non-linear framework for Poker Night. The question becomes whether or not these storytelling choices offer a useful technique or if they act as little more than cheap filler.

It seems to be a combination of the two. On one hand, the flashbacks offer some intriguing mini-stories, and they allow the cast to expand to a talented core. As the cops found in Jeter’s memories, we find good actors such as Ron Perlman, Giancarlo Esposito, Titus Welliver and Ron Eldard. They add depth to the production, and their scenes can be strong.

On the other hand, these flashbacks threaten to feel like a crutch. I occasionally get the feeling that writer/director Greg Francis can’t come up with enough of the standard thriller narrative so he throws in these short vignettes to pad out the running time. While they can be interesting, they don’t create the most natural, logical progession.

Poker Night also really wears its influences on its sleeve. Much of the time it feels like a mix of Saw, Reservoir Dogs, Natural Born Killers and Se7en - especially Se7en.

Hoo boy, does Poker Night give off a Fincher vibe. This permeates much of the story/character choices and seeps down to cinematography, visual design and score. More often than I’d like, Poker Night feels like a semi-sequel to Se7en, but not one with more than a fraction of the Fincher film’s impact.

Despite the disjointed narrative and derivative feel, Poker Night manages to keep our attention. Sure, its hyperactive, unsettled nature can annoy, but at least it never becomes boring. I just wish Poker Night tried harder to be its own coherent film and less a collection of snippets that feel borrowed from other movies.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Poker Night appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a positive presentation.

Sharpness usually looked good. A little softness crept into the image at times, but not frequently, so the movie usually appeared nicely detailed and distinctive. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were a non-factor, as this was a clean presentation.

In terms of colors, the movie went with a stylized palette that mixed a variety of fairly garish tones throughout its running time. The hues consistently seemed clear and concise within those parameters. Blacks were deep and firm, and shadows showed good smoothness. Overall, the picture appeared fairly solid.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it worked pretty well for the material. Outside of the dominant use of the score, the soundscape tended to be somewhat restrained most of the time, but some sequences – such as those at bars or on the street – opened up the spectrum in a satisfying manner. Cars and other elements moved around the room, while other effects added a good sense of ambience.

Audio quality was perfectly acceptable. Speech showed nice clarity and naturalism, and music was reasonably distinctive and dynamic. Effects appeared accurate, and they showed mild punch when necessary. All of this seemed good enough for a “B-“.

The disc opens with ads for Housebound, The Mule and Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood. We also get the trailer for Poker Night.

A mixed bag, Poker Night nods toward its influences too strongly and lacks a particularly coherent narrative. That said, it manages more than a few interesting moments and manages to remain involving despite its flaws. The Blu-ray provides very good picture and appropriate audio but it lacks supplements. Fans of 90s thrillers might take a moderate liking to this one.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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