Dead Man's Cards


Ignore the Liverpool setting and drug-dealing lowlives: James Marquand’s feature directorial debut isn’t really another dreary gangster movie. In its heart (and plot) it’s less the latest Lock, Stock Xerox and much more a Scouse western. On the featurette explaining how they made their story of bouncers trying to defend a ratty bar against drunken punters and criminal gangs, Marquand and writer/actor James McMartin bandy about inspirations like Howard Hawks and Sam Peckinpah. Dead Man’s Cards never quite manages to be the modern Rio Bravo it aches to be but, even if its style is stolen, at least it’s got some.

And when the plot begins to flag, the performances remain muscular. Making his final film appearance, Tom Bell is brilliantly dishevelled as cowboy-wannabe bar owner Billy, while the monolithic Paul [Denzel off Only Fools] Barber steps into John Wayne’s boots to dish out a few kickings...


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