Ernest Dickerson's adaptation of cult novelist David Goines' scabrous 1974 crime thriller attempts to expose the cruelty and ugliness at the core of a ruthless drug dealer's life. But rapper-turned-actor DMX brings so much glowering glamour to the role of a brutal killer who finally gets what he deserves that the underlying message is likely to get lost in the flash-and-cash stylings. After spending 10 years in self-imposed Los Angeles exile, graying gangster King David (DMX) returns to New York to settle up with drug lord Moon (Clifton Powell), whom he once robbed. King David is attempting to redeem himself for past sins, but he's abruptly and brutally stabbed by one of Moon's hit men, Mike (Michael Ealy), outside a sleazy bar called the Blue Room. Aspiring writer Paul (David Arquette) witnesses the assault and rushes the dying King David to the hospital. Paul promises he won't let him die alone, and is rewarded with King David's possessions, including a car with a trunk full of cash and a set of audiotapes recounting the horrifying tale of King David's rise and fall. Paul imagines-relives in flashback these graphic stories about King David's crimes and affairs, while trying to avoid the wrath of Moon, who wants the Good Samaritan to be punished before he discovers too much. In an overlapping story, Mike is also on the run from Moon, who's furious that the young hit man killed David so publicly and against his wishes. But Mike had his own agenda and stabbed King David to avenge the death of his mother (Drew Sidora). Although the flashbacks within flashbacks within some more flashbacks structure is overly convoluted, Dickerson's visual flair and Stephen Lovejoy's crisp editing actually make the story easy to follow, if not to believe. DMX delivers a surprisingly solid and convincing performance, but he's easily overshadowed by the very talented Ealy, who makes his secondary character truly memorable.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: R
- Review: Ernest Dickerson's adaptation of cult novelist David Goines' scabrous 1974 crime thriller attempts to expose the cruelty and ugliness at the core of a ruthless drug dealer's life. But rapper-turned-actor DMX brings so much glowering glamour to the role of… (more)