At first glance, films like Sergio Martino's Gambling City appear to be a hoaky attempt at remaking classic mafia films. The seriously odd and dated score.... the overzealous (and over-sexual) leading man.... the paper thin plot.... and the dubbing, oh the horrible dubbing! But for some reason these elements actually work well together, and Martino created one of the finest films to ever cross the desks of Gambler's Anonymous.
Luca is a hustler. H-U-S-T-L-E-R, hustler. The man knows and is good at one thing in life, playing cards. So it isn't surprising to see that he's hitting up every underground casino in town and playing its patrons for fools, cleaning up at every big money table he can get into. Unfortunately for Luca, he picks the wrong casino to hustle at and is caught by the President, a very wealthy and powerful casino owner who wields as much fear as he does money. However, rather than having Luca take a power nap with the fishes, the President is awed by Luca's talent for hustling and offers to put him to work in one of his casinos. Having no other choice, Luca agrees. After all, what better wayto make a living then hustling wealthy men with the backing of the most feared man in the underworld?
One night at the casino Luca notices an attractive woman lingering around some pushy scumbag playing the tables. Staring her down with a wicked hunger, Luca is caught and advised by one of the casino attendees to stay away from the woman. She's the wife of the President's son Corrado, a man who is a coward and a snake, and who uses his father's power to influence others. But the title of this film is Gambling City, and what kind of story would we have if Luca stayed away from the woman?
In classic Martino style, Luca woos Corrado's wife and seduces her in a blink of the eye. The sex is inevitable and less satisying than the usual Martino film, but Corrado's wife falls hook, line and sinker for the hustler and a plot is born. Alas, Corrado is hip to his wife's funky beat and waits for her with a clenched fist upon her arrival. Forcing one of his goons to simulate rape upon her, Corrado extracts the information he needs and now sets out to deal a bad hand (or two) to our stud Luca.
Fully aware of what he got himself into, Luca plans on stealing Corrado's wife from him and making off with her and enough extorted money that they can live comfortably in the country side. But Luca is a gambling man and cannot resist when Corrado challenges him to one final hand, winner take all!
Martino's Gambling City is possibly the greatest film to confront gambling addiction and the consequences that the player suffers from his actions. Luc Merenda's performance is absolutely incredible as he lives and dies with the dealing of the cards, showing little respect for his own and the well being of those close to him. The depravity and convictions of gambling are so expertly summed up by Merenda when at one point late in the film he puts everything on the line because he truly believes that he can only succeed by playing cards.
Once again, NoShame Films does an incredible job with their Martino collection, hooking up Gambling City with all the pretty bells and whistles that have made them a quick industry favorite. The loaded disc includes interviews with Martino, Luc Merenda and cinematographer Giancarlo Ferrando, a commentary by Merenda, the original Italian trailer, poster galleries and that awesome collector's booklet with liner notes and talent bios. Retailers, viewers and us reviewers are being spoiled by NoShame's willingness to go all out and provide "the complete package" when bringing the classic Italian flicks to our homes.