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 the King of New York Blu-ray Review published by Brandon A. DuHamel on October 16, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring Academy Award winning actor Christopher Walken as New York City drug lord Frank White, and a host of actors who would go on to become a virtual who's who in tinsel town, including Laurence Fishburne (credited here as Larry Fishburne) playing Jimmy Jump, Frank White's number one hit man, as well as Wesley Snipes, Steve Buscemi, and David Caruso, director Abel Ferrara's highly stylized crime drama King of New York is at its core a gritty and modern retelling of the Robin Hood tale.
Released from Upstate New York's infamous Sing Sing Correctional Facility after some years for previous crimes, Frank White decides to kill off the city's other top crime bosses and use the drug money he generates to fund a hospital in one of the city's poor, and predominantly black neighborhoods. Naturally, trouble ensues and Frank finds himself being pursued by corrupt NYPD Police Detectives.
On location in the New York City subway
This is one of those rare films that comes along only every so often, where one finds it not only
easy, but almost justified to support the "bad guy" even though he does a lot of not so noble
things, such as slaughtering people and showing no remorse, but he does it all for a noble cause
and everyone he kills is involved in far worse things, such as child
Where the film falters, is the underlying sense that it wants to explore more deeply the issues of
race and class divisions in society, and the gray areas between right and wrong, but it barely
scratches the surface of these things.
King of New York's strongest asset is its wonderful cinematography, filmed entirely on
location in New York City and in Upstate New York, (even the prison scenes were actually filmed
in the infamous Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York) and the gloomy, shadowy
lighting, that perfectly captures the feel of New York City at night. This is not to say that the film
does not have a strong storyline, because it does, it just could have been a little better.
Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and encoded in VC-1 at an average of 20Mbps on this high
definition Blu-ray disc release, Lionsgate's transfer of the 1990 film King of New York for
this release is splendid. Though the film source does show some wear in places, the encoding is
sharp, film grain (of which there is much naturally present here) is well captured, flesh tones
are immaculate, and color balance is excellent. From the darkest scenes to those with the most
lighting, fine detail is well represented with no black crush and no overblown contrast
One of the better looking scenes of the film, is the confrontation on the subway train between
Frank White and the lead detective who has been hunting him down throughout the film. This
scene captures the New York City subway system at night with perfection. The lighting right
down to the flat red color of the train, the gray seats and the metallic standing pole is completely
authentic, realistic and places you right on the train where the action is.
As far as I could see, no compression issues ever popped up, and the gritty, highly stylized
visual world of King of New York was always well maintained in this well done release
from Lionsgate. Only those who have a problem with films that have a lot of grain might have an
issue with this release, but that is not a problem with the transfer or the encoding.
For this high definition Blu-ray release, Lionsgate have chosen the rarely utilized, but still
exceptional "HR" (High Resolution) lossy 3.0Mbps variant of the dts-HD advanced audio codec
for the 6.1 mix on this disc. Though not quite as good as its lossless counterpart, dts-HD MA, or
uncompressed PCM, from which the advanced codecs are sourced anyhow, the high bitrate
dts-HD HR is amazingly adept at purveying spectacular sound superior to that of the dts and
Dolby Digital lossy codecs that preceded it, particularly for a soundtrack of this nature which is
relatively older and somewhat subdued in nature. For those out there that do not have the most
revealing sound systems, one might not be able to hear a difference between this dts-HD HR
soundtrack and a lossless, or uncompressed PCM soundtrack, particularly with this
The 6.1 mix for King of New York is incredibly subdued for what we might expect from a
film of this nature by today's standards, but King of New York was released in 1990, not
The placement of sounds across the front three channels is excellent and nothing ever gets lost.
Sounds are believable, dialogue is full, clear and pronounced, and sound effects are well spread
out, if slightly thin. There's more than enough in the lower frequencies for the audio content of
the soundtrack, and the marvelously intense film score by Joe Delia is balanced into the film
perfectly, although the strings sometimes tended to sound a bit tinny. The sequences that
featured the early-90's Hip-Hop music sounded superb, and worked the sub the most, to no
The surround channels were used for ambience, which could have been raised ever so slightly to
open up the sound a little bit more. There were no whiz-bang effects flying around the room, as
one might expect were this a 6.1 mix of a more contemporary film, or if the remixers had
strayed farther from the original filmaker's intent.
Overall, I have to rate this as a pleasing soundtrack, that could have been improved slightly by
toning down the high frequencies just a bit on the gunfire special effects, creating a bit more
ambience in the surround channels, and perhaps moving up to a lossless codec.
There are a decent amount of extras on this disc, but nothing outstanding and certainly nothing
worthy of being viewed or listened to more than once. There are, of course, the obligatory audio
commentary tracks, one with Director Abel Ferrara, and one with Producer Mary Kane, Editor
Anthony Redman, Composer Joe Delia, and Assosciate Producer Sabusawa. There's a featurette
entitled The Adventures of Schooly D: Snowboarder, a short film about
pioneering Philadelphia Gangsta Rapper Schooly D who's music is prominently featured in the
film. There's also the short film A Short Film about the Long Career of Abel Ferrara
. The title is self-explanatory, but the film is almost like a series of low budget vignettes
of people talking about Abel Ferrara and is at times hard to follow. Those are the standouts, the
rest are the usual TV Spots, theatrical trailers, and a music video.
Original theatrical trailer (standard definition; 1.33:1)
Crank (high definition; 16:9)
Lord of War (high definition; 16:9)
The Punisher (high definition; 16:9)
Saw III (high definition; 16:9)
The Condemned (high definition; 16:9)
The Adventures of Schooly D: Snowboarder (standard definition; 16:9)
A Short Film about the Long Career of Abel Ferrara (standard definition, 16:9)
TV Spots (standard definition; 1.33:1)
Schooly D music video
A gritty and highly stylized yet violent and modern updating on the Robin Hood mythology, King
of New York touches on themes that bring out the best and the worst in humans, and touches
all walks of life. Abel Ferrara's visualization of a dark, corrupt, and violent late-80's/early-90's New
York City is captured superbly on this high definition Blu-ray disc release in both sound and vision,
and is highly recommended as a purchase.