Monday, March 6, 2017

'Underground Kings' DVD: Gritty Urban Crime Noir


The February 7, 2017 breaking glass pictures DVD release of the 2014 web series "Underground Kings" edited to play as a feature-film shows that the commitment of breaking extends beyond gay-themed films that tackle controversial issues and horror films with awesome dark humor. The titular royals are crime bosses in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The story of likable police detective/loving family man Noah Carter taking on that group seems tailor-made for the Sunday at 10:00 p.m. slot on a premium cable outlet.

Christopher Mann, who stars in the 2016 mainstream biopic "Loving" about interracial marriage. aptly steals the show as central "legitimate" club owner Walter "Smooth" Davis. Davis being kind to your face only to very soon order someone to put a cap in your dome right after you leave and also being sweet to his girlfriend just before brutally beating her for a minor offense provide a sense of how this man gets his name.

On the law side, Harrisburg's finest seem to be getting a long awaited chance to take down Smooth and his business associates only to have a high-ranking official feeding Smooth information. This leading to a drug deal in which the partner of Carter gets killed is the last straw for our hero.

Another piece of this puzzle is big city Agent Daniel House from Philadelphia. He knows the score but keeps running into a brick wall courtesy of the code of brothers in blue. He finds a more sympathetic ear regarding Noah and recruits him to his cause. The wake up call regarding this is that our rookieish cop soon learns that desperate times can call for desperate measures.

The universal elements of "Kings" extends beyond the stock character characters (and others that include a constantly bickering old couple) described above. Audience members with even the slightest savvy know that the partner of Noah excusing his buddy from participating in the drug bust so that he can attend the birthday party of his young son and that partner promising to join the party after that bust ensures that that partner is going to be a fatality of that bust.

The above is one of many examples of "been there done that" in "Kings." However, that merely shows that the director and the writers are staying true to a very successful form.

The even better news is that the breaking practice of including a short by the feature-film director and/or writer really pays off this time. The highly symbolic "The Journey of Herman Stone" outshines the perfectly good "Kings." This one centers around a man who currently is the favorite son returning home to visit family just as his older brother with serious issues is about to become a father. The younger Stone is sent to bring his brother home and get him ready to assume the great responsibilities that he soon will face. This is another one that seems primed for a 10:00 p.m. Sunday night slot on a premium cable channel.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Kings" or "Stone" is welcome to email me. You also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.