King of New York
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Freed from prison, Frank White (Christopher Walken) challenges his fellow druglords in bloody battles for a piece of the action. In New York, crime gets done Frank's way - or it doesn't get done at all. Unable to keep him behind bars, the cops declare war on him - and Frank responds by putting out a contract on the cops.
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What I will say is this: try to pick up a better copy of the Film than this Artisan dvd release. The picture quality is pretty poor and muted, almost looking as if it was ripped from a vhs copy. The bonus features are bare bones, no extra content of the movie itself. But, if you want to watch the film, go ahead and pick it up!
"King of New York" is a good example of this--Christopher Walken plays Frank White, a drug lord who has spent a decent amount of his life in prison and who is on a kind of quiet quest for redemption, or at least the only kind of redemption that a figure in a Ferrara movie can attain: that is, one achieved through the worst and most depraved means possible.
He resembles some kind of anemic zombie, or vampire (it is no coincidence that Murnau's silent masterpiece "Nosferatu" is featured in the film and that vampirism is mentioned more than once) since White's origins are completely mysterious and unknown. Yes, he was a big figure at one time in the drug trade in NYC, but who was he before he went to prison? Why is he now determined to build a hospital for poor inner city children, why does he feel the need to now have a "code" of some sort, and why does he feel the need to answer to cop Roy Bishop (played with a masterful subtlety by Victor Argo, along with Lawrence's Fishburne's "Jimmy Jump" the only twp honest and straightforward characters in the film)?
Ferrara wants us to understand that Frank is a vampire of sorts: his resurrection from the dead was his release from prison, and he is determined to feed on the energy of his goons, the reluctant mastery of his very attractive defense lawyer, the violence of the city and his former life to drain everything around him. Though still very much a violent gangster, he is doing all this for one gigantic burst of energy which will allow him to make a gesture of self sacrifice. Bishop and White are actually on the same page: Bishop is having heart problems and feels as though the one decent thing he can do before croaking is to capture White. White knows he will not live very long with his newfound quest and also wants to do something good. They both see through each other and the way that Ferrara shows how close good can come to being evil and vice versa is genuinely disturbing. The lines were drawn very clearly in the sand between right and wrong in "Scarface"--this film is the precise opposite of the normal gangster film in every way imaginable. Those who complain that it is cheesy, campy, etc do not realize that it is done on purpose. And some of the slang in this film is prophetic for it's time and is taken straight from the street, more so than I have seen in any crime film.
This movie is a serious moral parable, a sick joke, and a masterpiece all at the same time. Definitely not for everybody, but a must for those who love serious films and Christopher Walken at his best and most ominous. (Ferrara's mob film "The Funeral" is equally masterful.)
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