May 20, 2013

King of New York

 Watching films directed by some of New York City’s finest auteur filmmakers, I get the feeling that many of these directors, to quote anti-hero Travis Bickle of Taxi Driver (1976), would like to live to see the day when “a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets,” but in an absolutely abject area of cultural and racial chaos where the only thing that people have in common is their propensity for fucking everyone and anyone over just to grab a couple extra sheckles, one can only guess who would have the moral and testicular fortitude and selflessness to give the miserable apocalyptic metropolis a nice cleansing via figurative acid rain. It seems that delightfully deranged mick-wop auteur Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant, 4:44 - Last Day on Earth)—a man that undoubtedly owes his unhinged worldview and gritty aesthetic to his home city—has it in his mind that a white race-mixing drug lord with an all-Negro criminal outfit of fiercely fresh gangstas would be the valiant postmodern knight in shining black-and-white armor to clean up the mean streets of its most corrupt criminals and cops and give some of the drug-money profits to the meek, or at least one would assume so after see what is probably the director’s most popular cinematic work, King of New York (1990), a contemporary update of the Robin Hood legend that reminds viewers why America is the foremost promoter of racial Armageddon and savage moral retardation. Like a speed-addled exploitation flick on steroids directed by a patently paranoid crackhead megalomaniac who came to a half-baked epiphany to solve all the problems of the rotten Big Apple after a lonely and otherworldly night on an angel dust high, King of New York has a pair of big yet busted celluloid testicles that could only have been conjured up by a chemically-influenced mad man with little concern for his health and reputation. A work so offensive to the morals of the seemingly amoral in the mainstream movie world that it inspired a number of audience members, including Abel Ferrara’s own wife, to walk out of its premiere at the New York Film Festival, King of New York is a perversely potent piece of totally uncompromising and suavely stylized celluloid sadism disguised as saintly street justice that, unlike more popular gangster flicks Scarface (1983), GoodFellas (1990), Carlito's Way (1993), and The Departed (2006), does not give a shit about appealing to anyone aside from the director himself. That being said, as far as I am concerned, when it comes to uncompromising semi-mainstream auteur filmmakers, Abel Ferrara is the ‘King of New York,’ even if he has released a number of tedious celluloid turds since the release of King of New York, which probably largely has to due with the fact they he severed his longtime artistic relationship with screenwriter Nicholas St. John (Ms. 45, The Funeral) about half a decade after completing his modern day mafioso masterpiece.  Starring Christopher Walken in one of his most iconic gangster roles and Laurence Fishburne in one of his most naughty Negro roles, King of New York features some of Hollywood's best crime actors at their most lovably scummy.

 Big time drug lord and classy classless glorified wigger Frank White (Christopher Walken) has spent half his life in prison and has just been released from Sing Sing and, quite naturally, he is determined to reign as both the king of the underworld and social justice, at least in his warped sort of unpredictable anti-hero way. A man who is extremely bitter because he has lost a lot of time due to his imprisonment, Frank wastes not a single second of time exterminating the criminal competition and on his first night out of the pen, he has his crucial killer crew slaughter a big-time Colombian drug dealer named Emilio El Zapa and his compatriot King Tito and steals their cocaine during a decidedly dirty drug deal that leaves a hotel room covered in a bloody mess of maimed and murdered Mestizos. Not long after, Frank gets a 'welcoming home' visit from his all-black criminal entourage, including a court jester sort of jigaboo named Jimmy Jump (Laurence Fishburne) and a nefarious nerd named Test Tube (Steve Buscemi), who warmly congratulate him on his release and give him a welcome-back present of Colombian coke. Frank wants to be the major of NYC and discusses his seemingly unlikely plans with his two corrupt lawyers, mulatto Puerto Rican Joey Dalesio (Paul Calderón, who also co-wrote Abel Ferrara's 1992 masterpiece of misanthropy Bad Lieutenant) and Nordic blonde babe Jennifer (Janet Julian). Dalesio is told by his boss to go to Little Italy to set up a meeting with mafia boss Arty Clay (Frank Gio) about running for mayor, but the anti-miscegenation Mafioso states, “I don’t talk to nigger lovers” and literally pisses on the part-black lawyer's shoes as a message to his negrophiliac employer, so Frank comes by and unloads an absurd amount of rounds on the racialist crime leader, thus making him a major enemy among organized crime leaders everywhere. When Frank attempts to make a drug deal with a Chinese drug leader named Larry Wong—a fan of F.W. Murnau’s bloodsucker masterpiece Nosferatu (1922) who has private screenings of the film with his chink whores—for $15 million worth of cocaine, things get ugly due to the arrogance of the criminal Chinaman, so he and his crew are naturally exterminated on their own turf in Chinatown at the same area featured in Abel Ferrara’s China Girl (1987).  Indeed, love him or hate him (I tend to do a little of both), nobody makes a more interesting and unpredictable mafioso than Christopher Walken, whose gaunt appearance and idiosyncratic emotional mixture of stoicism and stuttering are realized to the fullest in King of New York.

 With all the competition wiped out in a totally “no bullshit” type of manner, Frank White certainly becomes the unofficial 'King of New York,' but a group of cops, who are the first to verbally recognize this fact, including Detectives Roy Bishop (Victor Argo), Dennis Gilley (David Caruso), and Thomas Flanigan (Wesley Snipes, who was apparently living in his car during the production of the film), decide to take justice into their own hands. After having Jimmy Jump and some of Frank's lieutenants arrested for murder when a bodyguard from the Colombian gang miraculously survives and acts as a witness, Frank White has their bail posted at a million dollars a head, which makes the police realize that the “whole system favors the scum bag.” Corrupt cops Gilley and Flanigan get together a police crew posing as black gang bangers and bribe Dalesio so they can approach Frank’s gang under false pretenses and wipe them out. Of course, things go wrong and a number of cops and gangsters, including Uncle Tom Flanigan and fried chicken addict Jimmy Jumpy, are left dead. At the funeral for cop Flanigan, Frank White personally blows distraught policeman Gilley’s brains out in an impulsive act that leaves no doubt that he is no longer sound of mind, but a man on a mission for total self-destruction. Not long after, Frank White pays a personal visit to uncorrupt cop Roy Bishop’s apartment and expresses his reasoning for killing his criminal compatriots, stating, “When the D.A's office investigated the sudden death of Arty Clay, they found that he left a $13 million estate. How do you explain that? There there's Larry Wong, who owned half of Chinatown when he passed away. Larry used to rent his tenements to Asian refuges, his own people, for $800 a month to share a single toilet on the same floor. How 'bout King Tito? He had thirteen-year-old girls hooking for him on the street. Those guys are dead because I don't want to make money that way. Emil Zappa, the Mata brothers, they're dead because they were running this city into the ground.” Unimpressed by Frank White’s deranged sense of vigilantly justice, detective Roy Bishop has a final showdown with the King of New York in a subway car. In the end, it seems that neither crime nor fighting crime, pay. 

 When watching a reckless film like King of New York, as well as pretty much any of Abel Ferrara’s previous films, I see everything I love and hate about an atom-bomb-worthy metropolis like NYC because, while the film features no Jewish/liberal intellectuals, wussy Woody Allen types, hipsters/hippies, political poofs nor frigid feminists, it does feature an apocalyptic multicultural nightmare that is central to the miserable metropolis’ sociopolitical degeneracy. For an alpha-crook like Frank White to think he could bring any solace to the suffering of the populous of the city just goes to show how forsaken the area is and that there is nothing worth saving once a big apple has become rotten. The fact that a bloated barbarian like the Notorious B.I.G used the name “Frank White” as a racially-confused moniker in many of his songs only goes to show the retarded romance with renegade gangsters that have become quite popular in America—the land of the moral-free and socially-depraved. In a film where gangsters discuss drug deals in a children’s hospital that one of them has helped saved from going out of business via drug money and where cops pop more pills than criminals, King of New York is crime film iconoclasm at its finest and least fleeting and a striking example as to why a bunch of towelheads declared jihad against democratic Great Satan and flew planes into the World Trade Center. A gratuitously enthralling and totally unsentimental look at the darker side of the American dream, King of New York is a cultural cringe inspiring piece of unadulterated Americana of the post-Euro-American sort where a race-blind white man leads a colorful collection of Negro Übermensch into destroying every shade of grey, thus making it a virtual celluloid bible for aspiring wiggers/white rappers everywhere, but also a thrilling tragicomedy for cultural nihilists and pessimistic Faustian men.

-Ty E

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