5 Questions: Deadly Bet
Writing for this site has afforded me the opportunity to watch, relive and enjoy a number of films in Jeff Wincott’s action entertainment career. But no other Jeff Wincott movie had me asking as many questions as 1992’s Deadly Bet…
1. Could anyone but Jeff Wincott have pulled off this role?
Now when I say anyone, I am referring to Mr. Wincott’s contemporaries in the action entertainment genre. There were plenty of guys starring in direct to video action flicks in the 90’s and all of them had “karate chops” but none of them possessed the “acting chops” that Jeff Wincott has.
The main character in the movie, Angelo (Jeff Wincott), is a compulsive gambler and borderline alcoholic. As the movie begins, Angelo and his girlfriend Isabella (Charlene Tilton) are about to leave Las Vegas and start a new life in Colorado. Isabella believes getting out of Vegas will eradicate all of Angelo’s demons. But things don’t go as planned and Angelo quickly begins to spiral downward.
Wincott was able to bring depth to the Angelo character and show the audience that he was a flawed human being and not the Superman like characters you usually see in the action hero role. After we see Angelo hit rock bottom, he starts to dig himself out of the hole he put himself in, which gave the film an amazing sequence I referred to in my notes as the “getting your sh*t together montage”.
2. What is this? Professional wrestling?
One of the speed bumps on Angelo and Isabella’s road out of Vegas was the fact that Angelo owed a guy money… not just any guy either, but Rico (Steven Vincent Leigh), a promoter of kickboxing matches and a fighter himself. Rico taking advantage of Angelo’s disease, challenges him to a fight. Angelo looking to have more money to start his new life accepts, but as they go back and forth and the stakes get higher and higher, Angelo is out of money to bet with so Rico suggests he puts Isabella on the line… and Angelo agrees!?!?
This is a stipulation straight out of a professional wrestling angle. Dusty Rhodes would be proud.
3. Did anyone else get a Wayne Newton vibe from Steven Vincent Leigh in Deadly Bet?
Steven Vincent Leigh did a great job as the antagonist in this film. I’ve seen him play characters on both sides of the fence in movies like Sword of Honor and To Be the Best. But in my opinion he always is better suited to play the villain.
In Deadly Bet, Leigh has a serious Wayne Newton (Licence to Kill) vibe going on. I’m not sure if it was the Las Vegas setting, the hair, the clothes or a combination of all of it. When Rico invites Isabella to stay with him at his palatial Las Vegas home, I was having flashbacks to Wayne Newton making the moves on Ellen Griswold in Vegas Vacation. Although I don’t think Wayne Newton ever had abs like Steven Vincent Leigh.
4. How can you tell Deadly Bet was produced by the PM Entertainment Group?
If I missed the opening credits, I would have still been able to identify Deadly Bet as a PM Entertainment Group production due to its Las Vegas setting and the fact that the hefty Mike Toney had a role in the film. In Deadly Bet, Toney plays Johnny, muscle for a bookie known simply as Greek (Michael DeLano, who you may remember from Fists of Iron). Toney only has six acting credits and five of those films were produced by the PM Entertainment Group starting with his acting debut in Final Impact.
5. Has there ever actually been kickboxing coverage on the radio?
The sport of kickboxing gets a lot of media attention in these 90’s action movies, but Deadly Bet is the first time to my recollection that a kickboxing event get radio coverage. My guess is this aspect of the film may have been an after thought by the producers and since they didn’t any ringside announcers in the movie like it was being broadcast on television, they just had a voice over guy do “the radio broadcast” in post. I’m not sure why I find the radio coverage more far fetched than all the television coverage kickboxing normally gets in these type of movies. As I said before future generations are going to believe that kickboxing was as big as the NFL if they watch enough of these movies.
But I go back to my question, is kickboxing on the radio a thing? I’m not a big AM radio guy, but I would imagine if there was kickboxing coverage on the radio it would be on the AM half of the dial. If you have ever heard kickboxing coverage on the radio let me know.