After completing a lengthy prison sentence, one-time drug kingpin Frank White returns to New York intent on reestablishing his empire and making things as they were before he left. Others of course have taken over the business during his absence but that clearly isn't going to stop White. While he is gunning down the opposition, he decides he's going to give away the money he'll make to modernize the hospital in his old neighborhood. Drug dealers aren't the only thing he has to worry about however: a group of rogue cops decide they are going to take him down.Written by
Written by Lavaba / T. Lewis
Performed by Party Posse
Courtesy of Jive Records
Published by Zomba Enterprises Inc. ASCAP/Willesden Music Inc. BMI See more »
A crime kingpin re-enters the underworld upon his release from prison!
This film for many will be too much and by that I mean in every way possible; the amount of grim and grime in Abel Ferrara's portrayal of New York City at the turn of the '90's, the perpetual display of crime and gang activity, the almost impenetrable bad language, the shocking violence and the in-your-face portrayal of hard life and sudden death from the perspectives of both criminals and cops. Saying that, this is one of the first and few greats from writer and director Abel Ferrara, notorious creator of schlock-horror trash 'Driller Killer' and I love it for all the reasons that people tend to hate it.
The inimitable and irreplaceable Christopher Walken plays Frank White, whose Lieutenants - led by intimidating and possibly demented Jimmy Jump played by Laurence Fishburne - have been guarding his territory, awaiting his return from prison. But when he gets out and goes back home to see that the streets have become every man's nightmare and every crackhead's dream, he decides that through rebuilding his empire, he will clean up the streets and give back to the community what the gangs have taken.
What results of this new resolution is the start of an unprecedented bloodbath in White's attempt to rid the streets of these crack dealing gangs and this catches the attention of Roy Bishop - White's nemesis, a jaded New York cop - who proceeds to chase the kingpin with the help of his toughest men Gilley and Flanigan, played with integrity and even a clever hint of villainy by David Caruso and Wesley Snipes.
Ferrara's distinctive independent style of filmmaking truly comes to fruition in this one, as it did with 'Bad Lieutenant', giving the audience a glimpse of everyday life on the grimmest streets of New York, while allowing his characters to run wild. There seems to be no clear line in the sand designating who is supposed to be the villain here as both Frank White and Roy Bishop seem to be corrupted characters with little redeeming features, the same not exactly applying to their supporting characters.
White is a man with no qualms in spilling blood for what he sees as the greater good because he targets only the lowest of the low throughout the film until the cops' war with him becomes personal. Bishop's war with him is nothing but personal however and the only thing that suggests he isn't the true villain of the film is the fact that he's a cop. Fishburne's character, Jimmy Jump, is a devil with no need for disguise, a loyal animal that never questions the man he works for because the only kick he needs is to kill who he sees as the bad guys, even though he is possibly the most intimidating face in 'King...' And Gilley and Flanigan, as straight and clean-cut as they seem throughout the film, are in fact corrupted. Corrupted by hate, by the need for revenge and through the grudges that they bear.
If anything, Ferrara's crime thriller is a film study applying an old philosophy to modern social politics. That philosophy being, "he who fights monsters should see to it that he too does not become a monster in doing so..." The film relies on the talents of its actors as physical and emotional forces of nature, as their performances run along on little comprehensible dialogue in relation to the plot but this is strengthened by a simplistic plot with easily picked out references to classic crime thrillers and although we see where the film is headed from the start, personally found myself excited and in awe of how it got there and honestly didn't see the end coming. It goes far beyond where others dare to go and still keeps it real.
In the end I find myself thinking, this is the kind of film 'The Untouchables' and 'Carlito's Way' didn't have the balls to be!
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