King of New York

King of New York Information


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


Frank White (Walken), a drug lord, is riding into New York in a limousine after being released from Sing Sing. Emilio El Zapa (Howard), a Colombian drug dealer, is shot to death in a telephone booth. As the killers leave, one of them drops a newspaper headline which announces Frank's release.

Across town, Zapa's partner, King Tito (Ernest Abuba) is in a hotel room with Jimmy Jump (Fishburne) and Test Tube (Buscemi), 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 with champagne and a briefcase full of money. Frank leaves to meet two of his lawyers, Joey Dalesio (Calderón) and Jennifer (Julian), for dinner. Frank expresses his desire to be mayor and asks Dalesio to set up a meeting with Mafia boss Arty Clay (Gio). He and Jennifer leave to take a ride on the subway. Confronted by three muggers, Frank first brandishes his gun then gives them a wad of money, telling them to ask for him at the Plaza Hotel 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. On hearing this, 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 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 Roy Bishop (Argo), Dennis Gilley (Caruso), and Thomas Flanigan (Snipes), of the NYPD narcotics squad, who say they are taking him in. Instead, they drive him to an empty lot where they show him the body of Emilio El Zapa in the trunk. When Frank refuses to confess, Gilley and Flanigan beat him and leave him in the lot.

Frank sends Dalesio to Chinatown to make contact with Larry Wong (Chin), a local Triad leader who has $15 million worth of cocaine. Larry is leery, and demands that they meet alone on neutral ground to discuss the deal. 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, and sends a limousine to pick them up. They head to Chinatown, where they kill Larry and his gang. They find the cocaine in the basement.

Gilley, Flanigan and other officers resolve to use illegal means to get rid of Frank. Posing as drug dealers, they bribe Dalesio into leading them to the nightclub where Frank and his men are partying. The cops burst in shooting, slaying 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. Jump shoots Flanigan in the chest, puncturing his ballistic vest. Gilley kills Jump with a single shot to the head. A few days later at Flanigan's funeral, Frank kills Gilley.

That night, 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 businesses, including human trafficking and child prostitution.

Before he leaves, Frank forces Bishop to handcuff himself to a chair. As Frank heads to the subway, Bishop uses a hidden gun to free himself. Following Frank into a subway car, Bishop corners him. Frank shoots Bishop, killing him, but the policeman is able to fire a last shot. In a taxi in Times Square, Frank realizes that he has been hit. As police officers surround the car, Frank closes his eyes and goes limp.



During the film's premiere at the New York Film Festival, many members of the audience including Ferrara's wife walked out of the theater. At the question-and-answer session that Ferrara held after the screening, the first question asked was, "This film is an abomination. Why aren't you giving the proceeds to some drug rehab program?" At a second showing of the film the next day, Laurence Fishburne and Nicholas St. John were booed off the stage.

Subsequent critical reaction has been positive. The film holds a 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 23 reviews.

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