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Top 10 Russian Roulette Scenes in Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Q.V. Hough These are the depictions of one of the most brutal games in existence, as shown in all its bloody glory on the big screen. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Russian Roulette Scenes in Movies. For this list, we’ll be focusing on the most iconic scenes of Russian Roulette in movies, whether it be the “traditional” game itself or variations in which it’s “suggested” to certain characters. Special thanks to our user PersonWhoIsntYourMot for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Q.V. Hough

Top 10 Russian Roulette Scenes in Movies


These are the depictions of one of the most brutal games in existence, as shown in all its bloody glory on the big screen. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Russian Roulette Scenes in Movies.

For this list, we’ll be focusing on the most iconic scenes of Russian roulette in movies, whether it be the “traditional” game itself or variations in which it’s “suggested” to certain characters. We’ve based our picks on a mixture of their memorability and popularity. Also be on the lookout for a few spoilers along the way.

#10: Getting Into It
“Arizona Dream” (1993)

In what is one of Johnny Depp’s relatively early roles, he plays a young man who moves to Arizona and finds himself in the middle of a provocative relationship with a mother and a stepdaughter. As their passions takes them down darker paths, the sly Grace pushes the boundaries further by suggesting they play a little Russian roulette. Obviously frightened, Axel hopes some practical talk will do the trick, but after taking a puff, he feels ready to participate. It may be a surrealist comedy, but the sense of tension and danger are still very much evident in this scene.

#9: Pure Bravado
“La Haine” (1995)

Following a violent riot, the focus of this gritty drama shifts to the plights of three Parisian friends, that try to live a fruitful life while coming to grips with the realities of their real selves. In one particularly chaotic scene, the gang meets up with the shirtless Asterix, and he displays his manliness while taunting a clearly rattled Vinz in the most sensible of ways – with a game of Russian roulette. Asterix may have well had a method behind the madness, but fate ultimately had a different ending in mind for the wannabe tough guy named Vinz.

#8: Comedic Machismo
“Starsky & Hutch” (2004)

In this comedic adaptation of the classic TV series, Ben Stiller’s Detective David Starsky has all the necessary machismo for tracking down bad guys: the look, the intensity and the posturing. These also all make up for his obvious lack of tactical intelligence. In order to try and scare a recently caught criminal into spilling information, he challenges Chau to a fake game of Russian roulette, unaware that he accidentally loaded the gun. This fatal mistake ultimately leads to a hole in the ceiling, a very confused Starsky, one seriously frightened criminal… and whole lot of laughs.

#7: Love or Death
“Léon: The Professional” (1994)

Do hitmen have any room for love in their lives? Well, they do if a young Natalie Portman points a gun to her head and talks smack. In Luc Besson’s renowned French thriller, young Mathilda turns to said professional and not only professes her love, but also a willingness to learn the trade. Unsurprisingly, Leon’s not in the business of corrupting young girls, but after an impassioned act of devotion, Mathilda proves that she’s not your typical 12-year-old; a heavy moment in a film already layered with death, taboo and broken innocence.

#6: Bad Cop
“L.A. Confidential” (1997)

In this Oscar winning neo-noir, Guy Pearce stars as Ed Exley, a Los Angeles Detective that utilizes special tactics when trying to coax information from suspects. Then you have Russell Crowe’s Bud White, a man with a serious chip on his shoulder when it comes to wife beaters and men that take advantage of women. So, when his partner doesn’t quite get the job done, Bud steps in to get the information they need at any cost to the suspect’s safety. Not only does he play the part of “Bad Cop” effectively; he also reveals the essence of who he is as a man.

#5: We’ll Flip for It
“Malcolm X” (1992)

Before there was Malcolm X, there was Detroit Red. In order to prove his Alpha Male status before a robbery, Denzel Washington’s titular character swiftly steals the thunder of a gangster named Rudy through a one-sided game of Russian roulette. Singling out the would-be deadly bullet, Detroit Red showcases his willingness to ride or die. By the end of the tension-riddled ordeal, it’s obvious that the power dynamic has been quickly shuffled, with Rudy knocked down a few notches and Malcolm Little as the new man in charge.

#4: Am I Bluffing?
“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (2005)

Before he was manning the helm of “Iron Man 3”, Shane Black made his feature debut with both Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer starring, with the former being a thief-turned-actor on the hunt for his friend Harmony, albeit in a rather clumsy fashion. Under the tutelage of the Kilmer’s private investigator, RDJ ends up questioning a health clinic security guard, but the tongue-in-cheek banter ultimately turns dark and deadly. With the film’s sense of balance allowing for a smooth transition from comedic to deathly serious, we can’t help but flinch when the trigger is pulled.

#3: When the Bulb Lights Up…
“13 Tzameti” (2005)

After discovering a mysterious envelope, a Georgian man struggling to make a living in France follows the leads in the hopes of making some extra cash. He instead finds himself in very deep trouble. With black and white visuals further establishing the stark nature of the scene, Sebastien gets caught up in a unique contest of Russian roulette, where he learns that his fortune won’t come as easy he initially thought. When the bulb lights up, only a select few will make it to the next round. The scene blends survival and greed, and its visceral nature shines through perfectly despite a lack of color. Five years later, director Géla Babluani would direct an American remake, which, though it had different visuals, was intense all the same.

#2: Daddy’s Working
“The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” (2009)

For some of the younger “Walking Dead” fanatics, it may come as a surprise to learn that Norman Reedus was previously known for his role in the two “Boondock Saints” films. And while the sequel probably wasn’t a good idea in retrospect, it did provide a classic Russian roulette scene in which Big Daddy Noah hopes to get the information he needs via a gun and the luck of the Irish. It’s a different kind of roulette match-up, but with the same set of rules - if you chose to play, that is. In this case, all the guy had to do was talk, and Daddy would’ve left quietly.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Solitaire Roulette
“The Way of the Gun” (2000)
Garfield & César“One Eight Seven” (1997)
Reality TV
“Live!” (2007)
Bobby’s Balls
“2 Guns” (2013)

#1: When in Captivity…
“The Deer Hunter” (1978)

We had to bite the bullet and give out top spot to Michael Cimino’s harrowing classic, in which the game of Russian roulette plays an integral role in establishing the psychological aspects of war. Once Mike and Nick are captured, they find themselves at the mercy of the North Vietnamese, forced to entertain them by squaring off, friend against friend, in a game of Russian roulette. While Mike pushes his way through psychological barriers, Nick would have a more difficult time coming to grips with the experience… and who can blame him?

Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the most intense Russian roulette movie scene? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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