King of New York

King of New York is a 1990 American neo-noir crime thriller film starring Christopher Walken, David Caruso, Laurence Fishburne, Victor Argo, Wesley Snipes, and Giancarlo Esposito. It was directed by independent filmmaker Abel Ferrara and written by Nicholas St. John.

King of New York
King of new york ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAbel Ferrara
Written byNicholas St. John
Produced byAugusto Caminito
Mary Kane
CinematographyBojan Bazelli
Edited byAnthony Redman
Music byJoe Delia
Distributed bySeven Arts
Carolco Pictures
New Line Cinema
Release date
  • September 22, 1990 (1990-09-22)
Running time
103 minutes
United States[1]
Budget$5 million[citation needed]
Box office$2.5 million[2]


Frank White, a drug lord, is riding into New York City in a limousine after being released from Sing Sing. Emilio El Zapa, a Colombian drug dealer, is shot dead and the killers leave a newspaper headline announcing Frank's release. Zapa's partner, King Tito, is in a hotel room with Jimmy Jump, who is Frank's trigger happy right-hand man and Test Tube, who are negotiating the purchase of cocaine. Jimmy and Test Tube shoot Tito and his bodyguards and steal the cocaine.

Later, in a suite at the Plaza Hotel, Frank is greeted by Jimmy, Test Tube and other members of his gang, who welcome him home. Frank leaves to meet two of his lawyers, Joey Dalesio and Jennifer, for dinner. Frank expresses his desire to be Mayor of New York City and asks Dalesio to set up a meeting with Mafia boss Arty Clay. He and Jennifer leave to take a ride on the subway where they embrace passionately, kissing and groping each other. Confronted by muggers, Frank first brandishes his gun then gives them a wad of money, telling them to ask for him at the Plaza if they want work.

Dalesio goes to Little Italy, to set up a meeting with Clay, but the Mafia don urinates on Dalesio's shoes and tells him it is a message for his boss. Frank, Jump and other members of the gang go to Clay's social club, where Frank tells Clay that he wants a percentage of all of Clay's profits. When Clay insults him, Frank shoots the Mafioso. As he leaves, Frank tells Clay's men that they can all find employment at the Plaza.

The next night, Frank is confronted by Detectives Bishop, Gilley and Flanigan of the New York Police Department (NYPD) narcotics squad. They drive him to an empty lot where they show him the body of El Zapa in the trunk. Frank sends Dalesio to Chinatown to make contact with Triad leader Larry Wong, who has $3 million worth of cocaine. Frank tells him it will bring $15 million when he sells it on the street. Larry demands $3 million up front and another $500,000 after the drugs are sold. Frank counters that the two should team up, then split the profits evenly. Larry turns him down and demands that Frank decide immediately whether he wants to buy the drugs. Frank declines.

Jimmy Jump and several of Frank's lieutenants are arrested by Gilley and Flanigan, who reveal that one of Tito's bodyguards is alive and willing to testify. When Frank learns of his men's arrest, he orders his lawyers to arrange their release. They head to Chinatown, where they kill Larry and his gang and take the cocaine.

Gilley, Flanigan and other officers pose as drug dealers and bribe Dalesio into leading them to the nightclub where Frank and his men are partying. They burst in shooting, killing several members of Frank's gang. Fleeing over the Queensboro Bridge, Frank and Jump trade shots with the police, killing all but Gilley and Flanigan. After evading their pursuers, the two men split up. Sneaking up on Flanigan, Jump shoots him in the chest, puncturing his vest. Seeing this, Gilley shoots Jump several times in the chest and stomach. Gilley tries CPR on his partner to no avail and he finishes Jump off with a gunshot to the head. A few days later at Flanigan's funeral, Frank kills Gilley.

After his men kill Dalesio, Frank goes to Bishop's apartment, telling him that he has placed a $250,000 bounty on every detective involved in the case. Holding Bishop at gunpoint, Frank explains that he killed Tito, Larry, Arty Clay and Zapa because he disapproved of their involvement in human trafficking and child prostitution.

Frank forces Bishop to handcuff himself to a chair. As Frank heads to the subway, Bishop uses a hidden gun to free himself. Bishop corners Frank in a subway car. Frank shoots Bishop, killing him but the policeman is able to fire a last shot. Frank walks slowly out of the subway station in Times Square. He gets in a taxi and tells the driver to just drive but the taxi is caught in a traffic jam caused by the police search for Frank. Sitting in the back seat of the taxi, Frank puts his hand over his wound and watches the police surround his car. As police officers close in on the taxi, Frank closes his eyes and goes limp.



According to Ferrara, Donald Trump gave him permission to film at the Plaza Hotel at no charge on condition that Walken would pose for a photograph with Ivana Trump, who is a fan of the actor.[3]


Home mediaEdit

King of New York was released on a 2-Disc Special Edition DVD on April 20, 2004.[4] The film was released on Blu-ray on October 23, 2007.[5]


Critical responseEdit

The film holds a 71% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 28 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "King of New York covers familiar narrative ground with impressive style -- and leaves plenty of room for its talented cast to deliver gripping performances."[6] On Metacritic the film has a score of 66% based on reviews from 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[7]

Total Film rated King of New York four stars out of five.[8] Roger Ebert awarded two stars out of four, citing Walken's "usual polished and somehow sinister ease" and the director's strong command of mood and style, marred by a sketchy screenplay and a fragmented plot.[9] Mark Caro, writing for the Chicago Tribune, gave the movie only 1/2 star. He called King of New York "a film that sucked like mad", adding that star Christopher Walken and the movie remain "just out of grasp".[10] The film was also featured in Steven Jay Schneider's 7th Edition of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "King of New York". British Film Institute. London. Archived from the original on August 2, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  2. ^ "King of New York (1990)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  3. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (28 October 1990). "MOVIES : The Prince of Darkness : Director Abel Ferrara practices a kind of gonzo filmmaking, and his violent vision isn't a particularly popular one in Hollywood". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  4. ^ King of New York DVD Release Date April 20, 2004, retrieved 2020-10-27
  5. ^ King of New York Blu-ray Release Date October 23, 2007, retrieved 2020-10-27
  6. ^ "King of New York". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  7. ^ "King of New York". Metacritic. Retrieved 2021-09-11.
  8. ^ "King of New York". Total Film. 30 September 2008. Archived from the original on 8 January 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 7, 1990). "King Of New York". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2021-09-11.
  10. ^ "Christopher Walken". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved Jun 5, 2015.

External linksEdit