Shade (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDamian Nieman
Written byDamian Nieman
Produced byChris Hammond
Ted Hartley
David Schnepp
Merv Griffin
StarringStuart Townsend
Gabriel Byrne
Thandiwe Newton
Jamie Foxx
Melanie Griffith
Sylvester Stallone
Dina Merrill
Hal Holbrook
Music byJames Johnzen
Distributed byDEJ Productions
Release date
  • April 25, 2003 (2003-04-25) (United States Film Festival)
  • May 7, 2004 (2004-05-07) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$10 million[1]
Box office$459,098[1][2]

Shade is a 2003 American neo-noir crime thriller film directed and written by Damian Nieman and starring Stuart Townsend, Gabriel Byrne, Thandiwe Newton, Jamie Foxx, Melanie Griffith and Sylvester Stallone. The film follows a trio of grifters who attempt to set up a legendary card shark nicknamed "The Dean". The film had a limited release in the United States on May 7, 2004.


In an underground poker game, a man is revealed to be cheating with a hole card when the game gets robbed. He manages to defend himself and everyone but him and one robber is killed.

Hustlers Tiffany (Thandiwe Newton) and Charlie Miller (Gabriel Byrne) meet up with Larry Jennings (Jamie Foxx) as he's winning a poker game. They agree to a partnership to work a game with a potential profit of $20,000. Larry meets their third, Vernon (Stuart Townsend), a card mechanic who is working as a blackjack dealer. In a flashback, Vernon switches out the contents of a six deck shoe and they take the casino for $40,000. As Vernon and Charlie wait for Larry, corrupt cop Scarne (Bo Hopkins) shakes them down. Larry arrives and, after seeing Vernon's skills agrees to team with them - Larry will bet high on Vernon's crooked deals.

At the game, Larry gets impatient with the slow action and, on his own deal, gets over $100,000 in the pot. He loses; the money he bet belongs to a mobster named Malini (Patrick Bauchau), who sends his enforcers Marlo (Roger Guenveur Smith) and Nate (B-Real) to retrieve him. They take him to the house, which has been stripped bare - everyone at the game was in on the con. They take Larry to an airport and kill him.

The man and the robber (from the first scene) agree to cut cards for the money. The robber cuts a King and the man cuts the Ace of spades. They reach for their guns; the man gets his first and kills the robber, whose blood splatters on the ace. The three speculate that the story is an urban legend about "The Dean." They talk about taking the Dean (Sylvester Stallone) down at a game with a $250,000 buy-in and total stakes of at least $2,000,000. After Vernon's departure, it's revealed that he and Tiffany had been lovers until Vernon left and Tiffany slept with Charlie.

The next day, Malini's enforcers track down Charlie to a restaurant and Marlo demands the return of Malini's money. Charlie agrees to pay back $100,000, but Nate pulls a gun and a gunfight ensues. Tiffany arrives in time to kill Nate, but Marlo escapes. Charlie, Vernon and Tiffany escape and hide out with The Professor (Hal Holbrook), Vernon's former mentor, who is suspicious of Charlie and insists Vernon is better than him. Scarne arrives at the murder scene and realizes that the three are involved from a description by the witnesses.

The three arrive at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for the game, where they discover that the host is Malini. Vernon and the Dean bust the other players and agree to play five card stud. Dean's former lover Eve (Melanie Griffith) arrives, and they take a break. The three talk about the trouble Vernon is having and Tiffany speculates the cards are marked. Vernon discovers the Dean is using a "juice deck," a deck marked to be readable when one's eyes are unfocused.

In the final hand, Vernon mucks a card and deals the hand. He deals the Dean two pair, Kings and Queens, and himself a pair of Jacks with a 7 in the hole for the Dean to see. The Dean goes all in, and when Vernon is $50,000 short, Charlie and Tiffany make up the shortfall so he can call the bet. Before the cards are turned up, Marlo enters the room. Identifying the three as the team who conned Larry, Malini's muscle pull their guns and Tiffany pulls hers, then Scarne enters with his gun drawn. The Dean insists that the hand be completed and Vernon swaps out his hole 7 for a third Jack, which would beat the two pair he'd dealt the Dean. The room is stunned when the Dean turns up a third Queen to take the hand. Malini tells the three they can leave but advises them to stay out of the Los Angeles rackets.

Charlie splits up the partnership with Vernon and, after Marlo's revelation that he was tipped off by Tiffany about shaking down Larry, with her as well. As Vernon sits alone in a diner, The Dean, Eve and Scarne enter, revealing the game was all an elaborate setup by the four of them to con Charlie and Tiffany. They split the take, but as he leaves the Dean pauses to flip the blood-stained Ace of spades to Vernon.



The Shade soundtrack features three original works, "Penumbra," "Moon Rocks" and "Red Reflections", composed and recorded by jazz composer and flugelhornist Dmitri Matheny. The band "The Golden Ratio" together with composer Ken Rangkuty wrote two original works, "Licentious" and "Never", for the soundtrack.



The film was produced by RKO Pictures in 2003 and released in the USA on 21 June 2003 at the CineVegas International Film Festival. It began its limited release theatrical run on 7 May 2004.[3]

Home media[edit]

The film was initially released on DVD and VHS by distributor DEJ Productions. It later received a widescreen release courtesy of Warner Home Video.[3]

In December 2019, the film was released on Blu-ray for the first time by MVD Entertainment Group, as a part of their Marquee Collection.[4]


Box office[edit]

Shade was open for only five weeks in six theaters, and it grossed $459,098 in worldwide ticket sales.[1][2]

Critical response[edit]

The film currently holds a 67% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.[5]


  1. ^ a b c "Shade". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-07-25.
  2. ^ a b "Shade (2004) International Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-07-25.
  3. ^ a b "Shade". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
  4. ^ "Shade Blu-ray (MVD Marquee Collection)".
  5. ^ "Shade". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-05-11.

External links[edit]