A former drug lord returns from prison determined to wipe out all his competition and distribute the profits of his operations to New York's poor and lower classes in this stylish and ultra violent modern twist on Robin Hood.
Stylish and smouldering.
Frank White, a drug lord of New York, is released from prison and plans to make a more positive mark on the city. But after reuniting with his loyal and violence hungry gang, he finds the odds are very much stacked up against him. Not only has New York changed for the worse, being run by incompetent pretenders to his crown, but the police force are also after his head - dead or alive!
First time viewers to this picture should not go into it expecting some Scarface type gangster movie, I made that mistake almost 17 years ago and came out the cinema totally cheesed off! Revisiting the film now has opened up a whole new ream of delights that when put together have created a simmering and brutal piece of work. What director Abel Ferrara has managed to do here is portray a fable of how a leopard never changes its spots - even though it wants too. Frank White is here a victim of his own past doings, with his reputation on the wane and the authorities with long and unforgiving memories.
What hits the most (outside of some brilliant acting) is Abel Ferrara's bleak yet gorgeous vision of a sin city Big Apple, the characters are all one step away from a death, something that we the audience hope comes swift and nasty, all of which is cloaked in this plink plink lighted vision of the underworld. Ferrara chooses to pace his picture to give us a sense of pervading doom, it's quite a knack and means the viewers have to hang on in there to get to the wonderful, and dare I say it, bleakly appropriate conclusion.
Christopher Walken is Frank White and gives one of his best career performances, all scary eyes and dialogue spurting precision, he pours out grit and emotion to garner sympathy where he perhaps really shouldn't be getting it. Larry Fishburne, David Caruso, Victor Argo, Wesley Snipes, Janet Julian and Steve Buscemi fill out the cast list, with Fishburne and his manic Jimmy Jump character practically walking off with the movie. So all in all it's a visual delight and a story that is very good on the ears, with the violence perfectly harsh to flesh out the grim nature of this pot boiling crime picture.
So, those in need of a pick me up should probably steer well clear then. 8/10