Shade is a 2003 crime thriller film directed & written by Damian Nieman (The Takedown). It was produced by actor Bo Hopkins (Dusk Till Dawn 2, The Newton Boys, Phantoms, & U Turn) & Merv Griffin (Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, & The Merv Griffin Show). The budget was $10 million & it grossed $459,098 during it’s limited theatrical release. Many years ago, a young Dean (played by: Jason Cerbone from The Sopranos) is playing in a mob-run illegal underground poker game. The game is raided by robbers who order everyone to put up their hands. The Dean reluctantly does so, revealing the card he’s concealed. In present day, hustlers Tiffany (played by: Thandie Newton from Crash, Westworld, Solo, & RocknRolla) & Charlie (played by: Gabriel Byrne from The Usual Suspects, Hereditary, Miller’s Crossing, & Assault on Precinct 13) meet up with Larry Jennings (played by: Jamie Foxx from Just Mercy, Robin Hood, Ray, & Django Unchained) as he’s taking down an underground poker game. They discuss a partnership to work a “soft game” with a potential profit of $10,000 to $20,000 & Larry agrees after meeting the third member of the group Vernon (played by: Stuart Townsend from Queen of the Damned, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Chaos Theory, & XIII: The Series). He is a card mechanic who is working as a Las Vegas blackjack dealer. Corrupt cop Scarne (played by: Bo Hopkins from Nightmare at Noon, Sweet Sixteen, American Graffiti 1/2, & Midnight Express) shakes them down.
Larry gets impatient with the big game & puts $100,000 in the pot. Unfortunately he loses & the money he bet belongs to a mobster named Malini (played by: Patrick Bauchau from Carnivàle, Panic Room, The Cell, & The Gray Man). He sends his enforcers Marlo (played by: Roger Guenveur Smith from Final Destination, Tales from the Hood, He Got Game, & Do the Right Thing) & Nate (played by: B-Real from How High, Pauly Shore Is Dead, & Cypress Hill) to retrieve him. They talk about taking the Dean (played by: Sylvester Stallone from the Rambo franchise, the Rocky franchise, The Expendables franchise, & the Escape Plane franchise) down at a game with a $250,000 buy-in & total stakes of at least $2,000,000. Vernon & Tiffany have a troubled past with each other. They hide out at the Magic Castle with The Professor (played by: Hal Holbrook from Creepshow, The Fog, The Firm, & Rituals) after barely getting away from their current problems. The three arrive at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for the game, where they discover that the host is Malini. Dean’s former lover Eve (played by: Melanie Griffith from Body Double, Working Girl, Another Day in Paradise, & Mulholland Falls) shows up to the game. Only two players remain for the final showdown, The Dean & the ambitious Vernon! Has The Dean’s luck finally ran out? Or Will Vernon choke like he always does????
Shade is loaded with talent & the script is great, how did this flop so bad when it was originally released? They barely gave it a chance when it hit theaters, it’s highly under-rated. The screenplay mixes crime with gambling, it keeps you on your toes because it has all kinds of twists during the story. You can’t trust any character in Shade, they are all up to no good. It does have action & violence every once in awhile but it’s more of thinking feature. You are always waiting for the next move. Sylvester Stallone is basically promoted as the lead here but he only shows up towards the end. It mainly focuses on Thandie Newton, Gabriel Byrne, & Stuart Townsend. They all have great chemistry here & this love triangle gets really tense at times. Jamie Foxx is the same as Stallone in this, he has more of a supporting role especially early on. The supporting cast that includes Hal Holbrook, Melanie Griffith, Bo Hopkins, Patrick Bauchau, Roger Guenveur Smith, Glenn Plummer (Speed 1/2), Michael Harney (Deadwood), Dina Merrill (Fear), Mark Boone Junior (Batman Begins), Tony Amendola (Annabelle), & Michael Dorn (Star Trek) really elevated the entire production. This one is better than expected & it deserves more love with this home video release, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation & special features from MVD Marquee! This 1080p (2.36:1) transfer looks solid on blu ray. It has a variety of audio options which includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English: LPCM 2.0, & Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 on this release. It actually sounds great, all of the dialogue is crystal clear. The violence is elevated & the music has a nice boost to it. It has English SDH & French subtitles. “Audio Commentary” with director Damian Nieman & lead actor Stuart Townsend. All of the extras are in standard definition. “The Making of Shade” is a little over 8 minutes. It has interviews with director Damian Nieman, actors Gabriel Byrne, Jamie Foxx, Melanie Griffith, Stuart Townsend, & Sylvester Stallone. They chat about Shade. They go over their experience making it. They talk about the talented cast. They bring up the script & all it’s twists, no one can be trusted here. They describe their roles in Shade. “Tricks of the Trade” is a little over 14 minutes. Director Damian Nieman shows you card tricks from the film from one of the main locations from the ptoduction. 15 minutes of “Interviews” with Damian Nieman, Gabriel Byrne, Jamie Foxx, Melanie Griffith, Paul Wilson, Stuart Townsend, & Sylvester Stallone. They chat about their experience on the film, the cast, & their characters. It’s basically extended versions from the interviews on the making of feature from the disc. It has a “Trailer” for the film plus various other MVD related ones. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!