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King of New York(1990)
In New York, crime gets done Frank's way - or it doesn't get done at all. Recently freed from prison, Frank White hooks up with his old crew to challenge his fellow drug lords. Each bloody battle aims at a piece of the high-priced action where being at the top of the chain can mean the difference between life and death. Unable to keep him behind bars, the cops declare war on him. Frank's answer-put a contract out on the cops.
For more about King of New York and the King of New York Blu-ray release, see King of New York Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on August 12, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Abel Ferrara
Writer: Nicholas St. John
Starring: Christopher Walken, David Caruso, Laurence Fishburne, Victor Argo, Wesley Snipes, Giancarlo Esposito
» See full cast & crew
King of New York Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, August 12, 2012
Abel Ferrara's "King of New York" (1990) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Video. The supplemental features on the disc include original trailers for the film; documentary film about Abel Ferrara and his work by Iranian filmmaker Rafi Pitts; new video interview with Abel Ferrara; audio commentary by composer Joe Delia, producer Mary Kane, casting director Randy Sabusawa, and editor Anthony Redman; audio commentary by Abel Ferrara; video interview with producer Augusto Caminito; and more. The disc also arrives with reversible sleeve with original artwork and newly commissioned artwork cover. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Abel Ferrara's King of New York tells two different stories. The first is the story most American critics who have written about the film address, possibly because it is the only one they recognized. It is about Frank White, a former drug lord who decides to wipe out the competition shortly after he is released from prison. Frank is a brutal but charming man who also wants to give something back to the city he loves.
The best Frank could come up with is a hospital in a poor neighborhood for which there isn't enough funding – he promises to pay its debts even though he does not have the money. Soon after, assisted by a group of black drug dealers, all former partners, Frank begins killing his competitors. He quickly builds an empire which he controls from a fancy suite at the Plaza Hotel.
A group of honest cops, however, decide to go after Frank and his partners. The cops are led by a tough old-timer (Victor Argo) who does not like the fact that Frank is essentially taking over the city. They try to put him behind bars but repeatedly fail. Eventually, they proceed to deal with him on their own. Frank and his men strike back.
The second story is a lot more interesting. It is about a city in transition, a changing culture, and new attitudes. There is something about the way Ferrara's camera always looks at New York City that gives his films a very unique atmosphere, one that essentially makes them worth seeing. In King of New York, one generation of criminals is replaced by another, old rules are ignored, and justice is redefined, while the city is undergoing a profound transformation. As much as this is a gangster film, it is also a period drama in which the main character is actually Ferrara's beloved city.
Another interesting aspect of the film is the fact that virtually all of the main characters in it are compromised. In other gangster films from the 90s there is always some sort of a positive curve, a moment where the bad guys get punished or cured. But not here - Frank and his partners and the men they face are stuck somewhere between good and bad, never trying to impress but looking to get results, no matter the price or the laws that must be broken. This is Ferrara's nihilistic reality, and a glimpse of what the 90s will eventually promote and encourage.
Ultimately, King of New York is a legit classic, a politically incorrect, unapologetically violent, and exceptionally stylish film that does not imitate the big genre films before it. It has its own identity and it is damn proud of it. The film is also directed by a man who knows absolutely everything there is to know about his beloved city, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, and loves showing it all, regardless of whether he is praised for it or dismissed as an amateur.
The cast is excellent. Walken carries the films as the ambitious gangster who understands that the time he has to accomplish his goals is probably limited. There are a couple of scenes with him that have become legendary for a good reason. There are great performances from some future stars as well, including Larry Fishburne, Steve Buscemi, Giancarlo Esposito, and Theresa Randle. The late Victor Argo also delivers a memorable performance.
Note: In 1991, King of New York was nominated for Best Cinematography Award (Bojan Bazelli) at the Independent Spirit Awards.
King of New York Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Abel Ferrara's King of New York arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video.
The high-definition transfer is solid. Detail and clarity are very good throughout the entire film, while color reproduction is the best I've seen to date. This is not to imply that there is no room for improvement, but the basics here are very much intact. The overwhelming majority of the close-ups convey strong depth and fluidity (see screencaptures #4 and 9), while the nighttime sequences never look blocky (on previous DVD releases of the film, as well as on the Lionsgate Films Blu-ray release, the nighttime sequences are indeed problematic). Where there is an abundance of light, sharpness levels are also pleasing. The best news, however, is that there are absolutely no traces of problematic post-production lab tinkering. Naturally, even though there are a few scenes where light noise slightly overwhelms the grain, there are no serious anomalies that distract. Edge-enhancement also never affects the integrity of the presentation. Unsurprisingly, from start to finish the film boasts a very pleasing, if admittedly not perfect, organic look. Lastly, there are no serious compression issues. Large damage marks, cuts, debris, or warps are also nowhere to be seen. To sum it all up, this is a competent presentation of King of New York which ought to be considered the best currently on the market. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
King of New York Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Arrow Video have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The English LPCM 2.0 track serves the film far better than the English DTS-HD Master 5.1 track. This did not surprise me much because I've owned multiple DVD releases of King of New York and they have all had lossy 5.1 tracks that have struggled with the film's sound design (even on the old 2DVD set by Artisan, which replaced the first non-anamorphic release, the two-channel lossy track was preferable). The current Lionsgate Films Blu-ray release is not an exception.
On the English LPCM 2.0 track the sound is compact, with more evenly distributed nuanced dynamics. There are no sudden spikes or drops, while the dialog never feels isolated. On the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track dynamic levels tend to fluctuate during specific sequences, not by much but enough for the viewer to notice them. Having observed this effect on multiple releases of King of New York, I am convinced that it has to do with the fact that the elaborate 5.1 mixes simply struggle with the original Dolby SR audio (which years ago used Dolby's most advanced noise-reduction system). Naturally, my advice to you is to experiment with the LPCM 2.0 track, and keep in mind that any dynamic fluctuations that you might notice on the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track are essentially inherited.
King of New York Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
King of New York Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Abel Ferrara's King of New York is one of the most unique American films from the early 90s. It is beautifully presented on Blu-ray by British distributors Arrow Video, who have also compiled a fantastic selection of supplemental features. Amongst them is a great documentary film directed by Iranian filmmaker Rafi Pitts for the French TV series Cinéma, de Notre Temps which is a must-see for anyone interested in Ferrara's work. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
King of New York: Other Editions
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King of New York Blu-ray, News and Updates
• King of New York Blu-ray - January 27, 2012
Independent British distributors Arrow Films have revealed that they will release a Double Play and SteelBook editions of director Abel Ferrara's King of New York (1990), starring Christopher Walken, David Caruso, Laurence Fishburne, and Wesley Snipes. These releases ...
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