King of New York Movie Review

King of New York, a violent story of one gangster who shoots, stabs, and beats his way to the top of the local crime scene, has never had the street cred of Scarface, despite the similar themes.

And though Artisan is issuing a two-disc DVD release of the film, don't expect it to find much more of a cult audience 14 years after its original release.

Much of the blame lies with director Abel Ferrara, cinema's perennial bad boy, who made his most noteworthy and best-known film to date with this production. King of New York is put together with minimal deviation from the straight and narrow. Our anti-hero Frank (Christopher Walken, more on his work here later) and his band of cronies gorge on drugs, then bust caps on their rivals while evading the cops. (There's something about building a hospital here too... with all the people Frank kills, they're certainly going to need it.) Frank inserts himself into every gambling deal and prostitution ring, using his wallet when he senses his muscle won't work, and shutting down the less savory elements (child hookers, and so on) that don't agree with his twisted morality. But the cops aren't happy about this Robin Hood "justice," leading to an all-out war between the thugs and the law.

Ferrara's not one to dawdle on nuance.. Every shot of the criminals puts them in a drug den or a hotel suite, kicking back with piles of coke and half-naked women. Inexplicably, there's dancing at all of these events, so much that King of New York would fit right at home among the Breakin' movies. We long for Frank to get off the phone and make a move. Any move.

Walken is his usual, fabulous self, but Ferrara doesn't give him much of a character to work with. He has none of the glam of Tony Montana, and we only see the brilliance of Walken shine through in a handful of scenes. Most of the time he's sitting quietly on a couch, presumably waiting for his anger to boil over so he can go crazy on a rival crime lord. New York is delicious during its shootouts, and Walken even gets a chance to bust a characteristic move on the dance floor. It's a little touch that makes the film watchable, if for short stretches at a time, but hardly pushes the movie into the realm of classic.

Given a can't miss genre and a star at the top of the field, Ferrara turns in a big disappointment here. Bad Lieutenant, which Ferrara would make two years later, is a wildly better stab at the cop thriller.

The DVD set includes a profanity-laced commentary from Ferrara (he starts off by telling us the only reason he's doing the track is that he was paid $5,000 for it) and another commentary from the rest of the crew. A documentary about Ferrara's career (which includes interviews with Ferrara's regular crew, but not Ferrara himself) is also included along with a featurette about gangsta rapper Schoolly D, whose music was the inspiration for the film.


Comments

King of New York Rating

" Weak "

Rating: R, 1990

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Beyonce and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Tease Us With Tantalising 15 Second Teaser Clip [Video]

Beyonce teased us all over the weekend, when she shared a 15 second...

Beyonce and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Tease Us With Tantalising 15 Second Teaser Clip [Video]

Robert Downey Jr Crowned King of the Box Office

With an estimated income of $75 million between June 2013 and June 2014, Downey Jr...

Robert Downey Jr Crowned King of the Box Office

George Clooney On Getting That Tabloid Apology And Why He Had To

Ahead of his wedding to Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney has...

George Clooney On Getting That Tabloid Apology And Why He Had To

A Short History of Forgotten Destiny’s Child Member Farrah Franklin

Farrah Franklin, the forgotten fourth member of Destiny’s Child, found herself...

A Short History of Forgotten Destiny’s Child Member Farrah Franklin

Sons of Anarchy Final Season: Charlie Hunnam Spills Details

Speaking at the Television Critics Association preview night on Monday, lead actor...

Sons of Anarchy Final Season: Charlie Hunnam Spills Details

Vin Diesel Talks This Summer's Weirdest Bromance

Yet in conversation with Access Hollywood, Diesel summed up the relationship between...

Vin Diesel Talks This Summer's Weirdest Bromance
Advertisement

Rixton - Me and My Broken Heart Single Review

There's a new boyband on the UK pop scene who have somehow managed to storm single charts...

Rixton - Me and My Broken Heart Single Review

RIP Krusty the Clown? His 10 Best Moments

Krusty the Clown may have chucked his last chuckle and played his last Itchy and Scratchy...

RIP Krusty the Clown? His 10 Best Moments

Bachelorette No Longer: Ashley And JP Rosenbaum Find Out Sex Of Baby On Live TV

After being on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, some people like to retire...

Bachelorette No Longer: Ashley And JP Rosenbaum Find Out Sex Of Baby On Live TV


More recommendations

Advertisement