Reservoir Jacks


A classic card plot given a Tarantino-esque twist.

One of the first card tricks I ever learnt was the one where the four Jacks attempt to rob a hotel (the deck).

Each Jack goes to a different floor (different part of the deck), then the cops arrive and they all assemble on the roof (the top of the deck) to escape.

It’s a reasonable presentation hook, but to use a phrase from Save The Cat (an influential screenwriting guide), it doesn’t really deliver on ‘the promise of its premise’.

So what if we took that premise and made it more Reservoir Dogs?

it’s gonna get messy

Gore alert: this description involves distinctly un-PG violence, so skip to the next post now if need be.

Still here? Okay, so you start off in the standard way, then have the robbery spiral out of control.

The cops discover the heist early. They send in a swat team (the Kings) and then it all kicks off:

  • The first Jack gets shot – holes appear in the card.
  • The second Jack gets cut to shreds – cuts appear and/or its face becomes splattered with blood (red Sharpie ink).
  • The third Jack gets a body-part cut off (torn corner).
  • The fourth Jack seems to have vanished, then you peel the face off one of the Kings to reveal the Jack is hiding underneath. Extra marks if you can tell me which film this final twist is inspired by.

Method: good question! You’d have to work it out, but most of the phases already exist in other tricks, so it’d just be a matter of joining them together.

This presentation definitely isn’t for all audiences, but for those who are up for it, it’s makes a pleasingly visceral change from ‘mild peril’.