KING OF KNIVES. What a film that was.
KING OF KNIVES (2020)
Christmas is right around the corner and with it comes films filled with joy, commercialized music, and plenty of shots with shallow depth of field to get as much bokeh as possible from Christmas lights in the background. As we near the end of 2020, what better thing to look forward to than a holiday about joy and giving? To help us celebrate, allow me to introduce King of Knives, a Christmas film about baby boomer parents trying to connect with their millennial children, but this time with a twist! Here we have excessive swearing, people hating Christmas, everyone breaking up and being sad, coping with the death of a family member, and baby boomers having affairs with people way outside their age range.
Helmed by Jon Delgado, King of Knives’s direction is all over the place, but still manages to craft a diamond in the rough. Visually, it’s bearable. It definitely has the lower-budget made-for-TV feel in some of the cinematography, but the direction of performances are cohesive enough to follow along. However, this is a dramedy where the comedy isn’t noticeable enough to really be part of the genre it markets itself and the intentional drama is laughable. It’s clear that effort is put into this film, but the lack of a clear direction hinders it greatly outside of one heavy scene in the middle of the film where the protagonist gives a speech.
The marketed synopsis is “A New York family implodes over three days as they careen through mid-life and quarter-life crises.” Believe it or not, this is all there is to the plot. Sure, you’ve got a really long sequence about the protagonist tripping on molly (is that the correct term?) then gets his Tarot cards read. Then you also have relationships ending left and right. THEN ...
There’s just a lot of meandering. None of the characters actively try to do anything and there’s a false sense of everything being tied up nicely.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
As I mentioned earlier, the performances are pretty solid, the biggest standouts being Gene Pope, Roxi Pope, and Emily Bennett. The rest of the cast are kind of just there with no real material to work off of, but none of the acting or dialogue was bad enough to pull me out of the experience. What will pull you out of the experience are some of the casting choices and how the African-American cast are represented: Tokenized. Big oof. We’re also supposed to believe Roxi Pope and Emily Bennett are sisters and… well, do a Google Image search on them and tell me if you think they look related.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Okay, so hear me out: This film is set during Christmas time. There’s Christmas lights and decorations and everything. It’s also set in New York City, where the average winter temperature is between 26-44°F. So tell me why the film looks like it was shot in LA complete with spring attire and not a single sign of winter. Also, Bennett’s wardrobe is established at the start with a comically modest attire then next changes into regular attire for the rest of the film with no motivation behind the change of appearance.
Oh well, at least the lighting is good. Thumbs up to the lighting crew!
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The sound design is fine. Nothing pulls you out of watching the film and you can clearly understand what the actors say without having to adjust volume. I didn’t pick up on the score at all during my viewing, but it wasn’t in the case of making itself invisible. There is an old-timey needle drop towards the end of the film. Not sure what the song is exactly, but given all the other faults of the film I’d say the overall sound and music department is going to be the least of your worries upon viewing.
King of Knives. What a film that was. Thankfully, if you enjoy bad movies like I do, there’s definitely fun to be had here! If this film wasn’t genuinely trying to be a drama and instead focused on being another Hallmark parody (which it tries to near the beginning with a one-liner), this may have been given more slack. Oh well, at least it’s a harmless, inoffensive film about baby boomers learning to accept millennial culture and the passage of time. It’ll keep me from feeling any guilt when I add it to my annual Christmas viewing with friends.
KING OF KNIVES is Now Available on VOD & DIGITAL PLATFORMS