Good fucking night Irene, this movie is like bulimia for the eyes! Horrid eighties fashion is a torpid target, but the production and costume design on “Knights of the City” is exaggerated to a point of painful absurdity. It’s a total neon cocaine nightmare. Look at the box art! These black light baked droog-a-likes are in remarkably good taste compared to the actual shit you will see in this movie. This weird infusion of “Fame” and “The Warriors” isn't just kind campy due to its dated fashion. It violently penetrates the realm of the bizarre. Some of the shit you will see in this movie isn't even exclusive to the eighties, but instead represents the tacky dementia of a would-be taste maker.
New World Video’s “Knights of the City” is a “riches of the poor” themed action-drama about an aging gang with aspirations of leaving their world of violence behind for fame as musicians. But while they’re busy ripping off Debarge, a new gang is moving in on their territory.
Not much really makes sense about this movie. It’s not that it’s confusing or anything, but many of the events happen for no reason, and they conclude with absolutely no payoff, which I guess adds a strange realism to the production.
So, when the principal gang members in this story aren’t out extorting and raping, they’re rehearsing their band, The Royal Rockers. The story gets rolling after these "New Motown" rejects get nabbed during a gracefully choreographed battle against their rivals, and wind up rapping the rest of their night away in the hoosegow. Just by chance, the drunk asshole in the cell across from them owns a major label, and he likes what he hears. Obviously, he's wasted. So, the next day, they drop a demo off with the label, but some racially ambiguous big titty’d girl, who also happens to be the label owner’s daughter, isn’t having it. Despite the fact that she’s charmed by these savages and their primitive ways, she tells them to hit the bricks.
Later, titty girl winds up listening to their weak-ass tape while cruising around in her Benz. Amused by the novelty of poverty and gang violence, she decides she has to sign them. The only problem is, she never got their contact information. So, in order to lure them out of hiding, she decides to hold a huge urban talent competition. The rouse works and The Royals enter the contest. Romance blossoms between lead singer
In the end, The Royal Rockers win the contest, and his ex gets killed by the rival gang for eating shit on stage. Of course, this sparks a gang war, and
The film was written by its star, Leon Isaac Kennedy, but it feels incredibly unnatural, if not white washed. And by that I mean it comes off like white
Every corner on these mean streets has a cardboard mat. This economically reamed borough is seemingly populated by the supporting cast of “The Wiz.” There isn’t a time when someone ISN’T doing a back spin somewhere in this movie. Sure, this city might be dangerous, but it’s also vibrant and alive. For instance, The Royals might shake destitute business owners down for protection money, but they do it while break dancing, so it’s culturally charged, and therefore ok.
The pinnacle of street credibility in this movie is The Fat Boys, who appear alongside Kurtis Blow very early on in the film. They’re actually not even that fat here. I mean, they’re fat, but they’re not “Disorderlies” fat. As my good friend Vomitnoise put it, “they’re a collective three hundred pounds away from that point in their career.” Check it out:
There’s also an appearance by Harry Wayne Casey, better known as K.C., of Sunshine Band fame. I got really excited at first because I thought he was Adam Ant. Smokey Robinson also shows up as the mayor of the ghetto (not really) toward the end, too.
The biggest surprise was that Troy is played by Leon Isaac Kennedy. I wasn’t able to place his face until the last quarter of the film, but then it dawned on me that he plays Too Sweet in the "Penitentiary" trilogy. If you haven’t seen any of the Penitentiary series, then you need to get your shit together. They’re kind of like the black man’s “Riki-Oh,” following a professional prize fighter’s continual flirtations with violent state institutions. Penitentiary III is a particular
Leon's days as a film star are behind him, though, and he now runs a charitable ministry out in Burbank.
One of the best things about this tape has to be the synopsis on the back of the box, where the
“The tension’s a pressure cooker of repressed rage, desire and ambition ready to explode. Toby must hold it all together to insure that they attain their fantastic goal. But on the streets of
, only the dead have sweet dreams.” Miami
I don’t even know what the fuck any of that means.
Cheesy? Sure. Unintentionally hilarious? Absolutely. A vomitously gawdy spectacle? Bingo. Nevertheless, this is an insanely entertaining film that deserves to be known and loved by connoisseur of camp film.