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King of New York (1990)

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A drug kingpin is released from prison and seeks to take total control of the criminal underworld in order to give back to the community.


Abel Ferrara
4,085 ( 2,013)
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Mr. Devereaux is a powerful man. A man who handles billions of dollars every day. A man who controls the economic fate of nations. A man driven by a frenzied and unbridled sexual hunger. A ... See full summary »

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Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Jacqueline Bisset, Marie Mouté


Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Walken ... Frank White
David Caruso ... Dennis Gilley
Laurence Fishburne ... Jimmy Jump (as Larry Fishburne)
Victor Argo ... Roy Bishop
Wesley Snipes ... Thomas Flanigan
Janet Julian ... Jennifer
Joey Chin Joey Chin ... Larry Wong
Giancarlo Esposito ... Lance
Paul Calderon ... Joey Dalesio
Steve Buscemi ... Test Tube
Theresa Randle ... Raye
Leonard L. Thomas ... Blood (as Leonard Lee Thomas)
Roger Guenveur Smith ... Tanner (as Roger Smith)
Carrie Nygren Carrie Nygren ... Melanie
Ernest Abuba Ernest Abuba ... King Tito


After completing a lengthy prison sentence, one-time drug kingpin Frank White returns to New York intent on reestablishing his empire and making things as they were before he left. Others of course have taken over the business during his absence but that clearly isn't going to stop White. While he is gunning down the opposition, he decides he's going to give away the money he'll make to modernize the hospital in his old neighborhood. Drug dealers aren't the only thing he has to worry about however: a group of rogue cops decide they are going to take him down. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The cops tried to stop him their way...Now they'll have to do it HIS way. See more »


Crime | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

29 August 1991 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

King of New York See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The first cut of the film originally ran for almost two hours and had to be edited down to 106 minutes to avoid an X rating. See more »


In the scene in which Bishop enters the train to seek White, Bishop enters the #7 train. The #7 train begins at "Main St., Flushing Queens" and terminates at "42nd St. Times Square." The destination of this particular #7 train posts "34th St. Penn Station" as its terminus. See more »


Frank White: [to Bishop] I'm not your problem. I'm a business man.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Orignally rated "X", edited and changed for R rating on appeal. See more »


Featured in The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened? (2015) See more »


Written by Lavaba / T. Lewis
Performed by Party Posse
Courtesy of Jive Records
Published by Zomba Enterprises Inc. ASCAP/Willesden Music Inc. BMI
See more »

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User Reviews

Finally. A "Cult classic" worth your time.
27 November 2010 | by oneguyramblingSee all my reviews

The King of New York should be boring, it moves slowly and deliberately for much of the film, the look of the film is quite washed out with drab backgrounds and much of the background music is quiet and orchestral.

But the movie also has some great action sequences, and some of the more visceral and impacting acts of violence committed to film. This is quite unlike 90% of action films made in the last 2 decades, and it's better than almost all of them.

Frank White is released from prison, by Christopher Walken, who is white - even for a white guy.

In fact in this movie I am convinced that Walken glows in certain scenes he is so pasty, they actually could have used him for lighting.

So back to Frank White, now a free man Frank decides to "get straight back into it" in every respect. In the initial scenes the various "Its" include his limo, the crime business - and various women including his lawyer.

Frank obviously has a way with people, he is disarmingly honest (where possible) and direct, and he is very loyal to his gang. And they reciprocate. Frank also moves in different circles, as well as the lower socioeconomic area that he resides in, and does business with, he also spends time with the cities' elite, pressing the flesh and trying to broker deals of a different nature.

There is the initial montage that goes along with reestablishing turf, various rival dealers and kingpins are dealt with, the violence in these scenes is quite immediate and realistic, no amazing stunt leaps or protracted death rolls here, you are shot and you fall down, there are no dramatic final carefully scripted words. (These scenes reminded me a lot of Beat Takeshi and his films, especially Brother, which coincidentally enough had a non-black guy running a crime gang staffed mostly by black guys.)

Frank also turns an attempted mugging into an impromptu recruitment drive. This sounds odd, but is even odder when you factor in that he was interrupted mid titty-squeeze on the subway!

The difference between Frank and say Nino Brown or Tony Montana, is that Frank actually seems determined to help the very same group of people that is selling to, one of his pet projects is personally funding a hospital in a poorer area using 16M of his own money.

When he tries to co-opt a rival gang leader into assisting he is met with scorn and derision. Here we learn another thing about Frank, if you knock back a deal, he'll get what he wants anyway, just through other more violent means.

As Frank and his crew expand and become more successful, he attracts the attention of two groups, rival gangs wary of losing turf and customers, and the cops. We already know how Frank and co deal with rival gangs, let's talk about the cops.

The cops are both a strength and a weakness in this film. In the early sections we meet them all, Roy (Victor Argo) is the time-weathered Boss, determined to nab Frank but rendered almost powerless by the system. Tommy (Wesley Snipes) and Dennis (David Caruso) are the younger hotheads that are willing to do "anything" to keep the streets clean, there is also a fourth newly-wed cop who anyone (who has seen an action movie at least) knows is only there to be killed.

The cops have a minor victory when they manage to find a real living witness to a crime committed by Frank's henchman, most notably Jimmy Jump (Larry Fishburne, more on him later). In a show of loyalty Frank plumps up the sizable bail to free his men, and this is where things change.

The cops, realizing that the normal "legit" channels just don't work, decide to go to a slightly more shady Plan B, from here on in everything moves along towards the inevitable conclusion. Only in a film like this we can never be sure who will actually triumph, after all the criminal is loyal, honest and wants to maintain a valuable hospital servicing the inner city with his own money, and the cops are willing to use illegal means to get what they want.

There is an exceptional car chase, a shoot out and some well written and impeccably timed one-liners in the concluding sequences, though this isn't your standard action/crime film. Key characters on both "sides" are killed, often abruptly and violently, and loyalties are tested.

The film ends in a slow languid scene that is in obvious contrast to the hectic action that preceded it, and the scene is quite fitting for a crime film in which there are no real winners.

The King of New York is deservedly seen as a cult classic, and while many so called cult classic are of the "sh*t films that people saw when they were high so they talk them up" variety this one is truly worth your time.

Now, as alluded to earlier, even though he was given scant mention in the above write up Larry Fishburne as Jimmy Jump must go down as one of the coolest MFs to ever appear in a film. Larry plays him as animated, chirpy yet also skittish. He is a cold-blooded assassin that also runs around like a 7 year old full of green cordial, and in one of the shootouts near the close of the film he moves effortlessly through the scenery, even while pumping rounds into other bad guys (and unfortunately some cops).

Final Rating – 8.5 / 10. Deserves to be more well known, but for now check out The King of New York. At least you'll get to know how good it is. (Thank me later.)

If you liked this review (or even if you didn't) check out oneguyrambling.com

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