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The Killing of a Chinese Bookie


John Cassavetes

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About the Movie

John Cassavetes engages film noir in his own inimitable style with The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Ben Gazzara brilliantly portrays gentlemen’s club owner Cosmo Vitelli, a man dedicated to pretenses of composure and self-possession. When he runs afoul of a group of gangsters, Cosmo is forced to commit a horrible crime in a last-ditch effort to save his beloved club and his way of life. Suspenseful, mesmerizing, and idiosyncratic, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is a thought-provoking examination of desperation and masculine identity.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 22
  • Fresh: 17
  • Rotten: 5
  • Average Rating: 6.3/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Rotten: Watching the film is like listening to someone use a lot of impressive words, the meanings of which are just wrong enough to keep you in a state of total confusion, but occasionally right enough to hold your attention. What is he trying to say? – Vincent Canby, New York Times, Jul 16, 2008

Fresh: When Cassavetes is really cooking, even the moments that are awkward and forced can become electric. – Jay Cocks, TIME Magazine, May 3, 2013

Fresh: John Cassavetes, who made much of his money performing in action films, put that experience to work as the director of this hard, brooding crime drama – Richard Brody, New Yorker, May 3, 2013

Fresh: A postnoir masterpiece. – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader, Jun 24, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Beware: There is NO music!!!

Don't buy this. There is NO music in this movie. Even one scene where a girl is trying out to be a dancer, there's no music. Why on earth this happened I have no idea, but you DON'T WANT TO BUY THIS WITHOUT MUSIC!!!!! The movie itself I give five stars, but this version I give one star because there's no music. This is a travesty.

The unedited very long version sans music

For some reason this is the version that was originally pulled from theaters because it was too long and incompressible. Even the lead actor, the brilliant Ben Gazzara hated it. I rented it thinking it was the shorter, edited version that was releases in 1978. Also this is without it music. I suspect there was a licensing issue. Without it and at this length tho is basically unwatchable. A great shame.

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The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
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  • $19.99
  • Genre: Independent
  • Released: 1978

Customer Ratings