Monday, 5 June 2017

King of New York

Year of Release:  1990
Director:  Abel Ferrara
Screenplay:  Nicholas St. John
Starring:  Christopher Walken, David Caruso, Laurence Fishburne, Victor Argo, Wesley Snipes, Janet Julian
Running Time:  106 minutes
Genre:  Thriller, crime, gangster

Convicted drug lord Frank White (Walken) is released from prison, and immediately returns to New York City and sets about expanding his already vast criminal empire, making a bid for legitimacy by using the profits to help an underfunded inner city hospital.  However, White and his gang ruthlessly proceed to wipe out anyone who stands in their way and, as the body count rises, a group of police officers are determined to stop Frank, by any means necessary.

This is one of the best films from prolific director Abel Ferrara, a gritty, action-packed urban thriller, which rattles along with nary a dull moment.  Christopher Walken is effective in the lead, looking almost more ghostly than usual against his all black clothing and shadowy locations.  His Frank White is an interesting character, calm, cool, reasonable, soft-spoken, who can erupt with sudden, ferocious violence, an absolutely ruthless killer, who nevertheless has a strong social conscience and who claims that he has never killed an innocent person.  The film features several well-known actors in relatively early roles, including David Caruso, Laurence Fishburne (here billed as "Larry"), Wesley Snipes, and Steve Buscemi.  There are few female characters and they are given very little to do, except look pretty.  It contrasts the world of opulent hotel rooms, lavish galas and lunches in top-class restaurants, with the gritty mean streets, dark clubs and back rooms, and the film uses it's locations very effectively.  The film's frequent graphic violence may be off-putting for some viewers, but it is one of the best urban thrillers of the period.

Christopher Walken reflects in King of New York    

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