'Kings Of South Beach'
(Donnie Wahlberg, Jason Gedrick, et al / DVD / NR / 2007 / Sony Pictures)
Overview: Based on the true story of a Miami Beach nightclub owner who takes a young employee under his wing, while trying to avoid bankruptcy and the mafia.
DVD Verdict: Letís face it, not everything that airs on television is the most wonderful thing ever created. Like anything else, some television is great, some is good, and some is downright awful. Things donít just fall into these categories however; some things on TV can be described as mildly entertaining at best. Entering into this undistinguished category is A&Eís latest made-for-television movie, 'Kings of South Beach' now out on DVD.
This original production stars Donnie Wahlberg and Jason Gedrick. Based on a true story, Gedrick plays Chris Troiano, a nightclub owner with a shady past. Wahlberg is Andy Burnett, Gedrickís new, mysterious best friend, and security guard. Appearing in minor roles in the film are Ricardo Chavira (of Desperate Housewives fame) as a mid- to low-level mob guy and Nadine Velazquez (My Name is Earl) as Troianoís sister.
The Feds and local police are also operating some sort of sting operation in the background (apparently based on the assumption that no one this successful can be on the up-and-up). What exactly they think is happening at the club is unclear, but theyíre sure it isnít good. However, the viewer, for the first half of the movie, isnít given much insight into what the Feds are up to; but they are setting up some sort of operation.
Actually, thatís one of the main problems of the movie: for the first third to half of it, the viewer is told very little of whatís going on and is supposed to be drawn into the mystery of it all. This all falls apart due to the fact that so much of the mystery is clear, and the rest is wholly uninteresting. The Feds have a guy ďon the insideĒ of the goings-on. The identity of the undercover guy is allegedly a mystery (albeit quite an obvious one), and is revealed about halfway through the film. I wonít give it away here, but itís readily apparent about five minutes into the picture.
Why it should be written so that the undercover man is a mystery until halfway through the film is actually one of the most intriguing things about the picture. As this is based on a true story, anyone familiar with the events will know immediately, anyone not familiar with the events can easily look it up and find out, and anyone that chooses not to do that will, as stated above, figure it out before the movie makes it explicit anyway.
'Kings of South Beach' takes place in the mid-Ď90s, just as the area of South Beach was beginning to explode in popularity. This made-for works very hard to place itself into this time period, from music, to clothes, to rollerblades. Some of these elements work better than others. For instance, Kings actually shows Andrew Cunanan shooting Gianni Versace. Neither Versace nor Cunanan have any part in the plot of the story whatsoever. They didnít appear before the shooting, and Cunanan doesnít appear after. The scene is simply there, and then weakly tied back to the story when an officer asks Troiano about Cunanan, who, the officer claims, visited Troianoís club, and Versace, who was at Troianoís the night before getting shot. Itís a weak, silly excuse to further place the movie at a specific moment in time, add a famous name to the mix, and get to show one more murder.
What then is right with the movie? Wahlberg gives a good performance as Burnett, and Iíve always found Jason Gedrick to be charismatic on screen. Additionally, itís able to generate just enough excitement through car chases, beatings, fights, slightly off-color language, and jiggles to make for a passable evening! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, but does not come with any Special Features.