Christopher Walken is by far one of the most interesting actors in all of Hollywood. His roles are absolutely random and his characters are always so intriguing that I almost have to watch every movie he is in. That said, King of New York is one film that I had never seen, and I was glad for the chance to take it in.
Frank White (Christopher Walken) has spent nearly half his life in prison. After serving his time and being released, he knows that there is no going back. In order to move his way back up the ranks he has to eliminate the other drug lord competition and become the King of New York. With his point man Jimmy Jump (Larry a.k.a. Laurence Fishburne) showing some force around town, White begins to take down drug lord after drug lord. With cops Dennis Gilley (David Caruso) and Tommy Flanigan (Wesley Snipes) hot on his trail, White will do everything it takes to secure his position. He doesn't have a problem letting people know the things he is willing to do as long as it helps him gain his title back.
Christopher Walken delivers an incredibly strong performance as drug lord Frank White and is joined by an unbelievable supporting cast including Laurence Fishburne, David Caruso, Wesley Snipes and even Steve Buscemi. Larry Fishburne's character is such a weirdo, but is the right hand man to Frank White. He fits perfectly as a drug lord's right hand mand who is just a little bit off his rocker. Another surprise is David Caruso as Detective Dennis Gilley. This role was cast for him, some people don't like him in C.S.I. Miami but here he most certainly belongs. The best part about the film is by far the acting. Each actor brings something unique to the table as we dive deeper into the world of drugs.
Director Abel Ferrara has one heck of a cult following. He focuses mostly on horror movies and was looked down upon by critics all around. King of New York changed the way people and critics alike looked at his work. Proving that he can do a serious movie with more then just action driving the film, but emotion. Abel Ferrara has had a long career in directing, and King of New York is by far one of his better films.
King of New York is an extremely entertaining look into the life of a drug lord. It not an easy film to watch as we can only hope these things are not actually going on right now. I had a blast sitting and enjoying solid performances, along with an incredibly well done flick.
Presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio with a 1080p VC-1 codec, the transfer seems quite well done especially considering it is an older release. The blacks are good and the skin tones are nice and even. The detail throughout remains solid, but there are some imperfections in the film that continuously stand out. My biggest complaint is the age of the film...it still feels old with dulled colors that don't just don't pop like they could. Yes, the colors look nice, but there really just isn't enough contrast to make things look great. There are several scenes that look very good, but the majority of the film looks like it wasn't treated with the attention it deserved.
We are given a surprising Dolby Digital Surround Ex & 7.1 DTS HD track. Like the video, this release is just average. The surrounds are used once and a while, with some background noise, but really not enough to remind me that I am watching two tracks that are supposedly "high-end." The dialogue is good, perhaps a bit on the quiet side but at least it is consistent. The biggest problem I have is in the sound effects. The gunshots seem very muffled and never produce a believable sound. You really won't hear much of a difference between the two tracks, with only the 7.1 having slightly better surrounds. For an older release this track is decent all around, but with so many releases getting the royal treatment these days, this one is just okay.
Audio Commentary with Director Abel Ferrara: I honestly couldn't get into this track. During the first half, Abel really can't get over how amazing each shot is and how "perfect" he did everything. The second half rounds out with a much better commentary as he finally goes into some details about the film instead of how good his shots are.
Audio Commentary with Producer Mary Kane, Editor Anthony Redman, Composer Joe Delia and Associate Producer Randy Sabusawa: By far the better of the two audio commentaries. These guys all loved this film and do a fantastic job filing us in on all the details and fun stories about King of New York.
This next features are unfortunately in 480p and look nothing like what high-def should.
The Long Career of Abel Ferrara: From Art Directors to Music Supervisors, everyone is here to chime in for a documentary style feature about Abel Ferrara's film career. If you are a Abel Ferrara fan, then this is worth a look...but if not...don't watch this as you will be bored out of your mind.
The Adventures of Schooly D: Snowboarder: This feature is specifically about Rapper Schooly D & his Relationship with Abel. It feels like a home video and has a lot of fast cuts that try and make it "artsy." If you know who Schooly D is then you might enjoy this one.
Schooly D Music Video: Just like it sounds.
TV Spots: A set of T.V. commercials that are old T.V. ads for the film.
Alright, so King of New York is a very interesting film that is put together extremely well. The acting is fantastic, and the story is great. I really did enjoy the movie, but the audio and video being just okay and a lack of "good" extras makes this a tough one to recommend. Go rent this one.