Street Kings

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Street Kings
Street KingsMP08.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Ayer
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story byJames Ellroy
Music byGraeme Revell
CinematographyGabriel Beristain
Edited byJeffrey Ford
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures[1]
Release date
  • April 3, 2008 (2008-04-03) (Hollywood)
  • April 11, 2008 (2008-04-11) (United States)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million[2]
Box office$66.5 million

Street Kings is a 2008 American action thriller film directed by David Ayer, and starring Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, Common and The Game. The initial screenplay drafts were written by James Ellroy in the late 1990s under the title The Night Watchman.

The film was released in theaters on April 11, 2008 and was followed by a direct-to-video stand-alone sequel Street Kings 2: Motor City in 2011, with Clifton Powell returns as a corrupt cop.


Tom Ludlow is a disillusioned, borderline alcoholic LAPD detective working undercover for a unit known as Vice Special, he meets in a parking lot with Korean gangsters who are looking to buy a machine gun from him and who he also believes have kidnapped two Korean schoolgirls. After a vicious beatdown, the Koreans steal his car. This was planned, however, and he has the cops locate the vehicle via GPS.

Upon arrival at their hideout, Ludlow storms in and kills the four gangsters inside, he then puts on gloves, takes a shot of vodka and alters the scene to make the shootings look justified. He then finds the 2 school girls locked in a closet. While the other officers in his unit congratulate him, he is confronted by his former partner, Detective Terrence Washington, who no longer approves of the corruption as well as the deception and has gone straight, reporting the problems to Captain James Biggs, of Internal Affairs, who apparently starts an investigation against Ludlow.

Believing that Washington was snitching on him, Ludlow follows him to a convenience store to beat him up. However, Washington is executed in the store in an apparent gangland hit albeit with heavy fire by two gangbangers under the pretense of a robbery. Though Ludlow is innocent and the two were working together to fight back, the surveillance video of the shootout shows him to have accidentally shot Washington while trying to protect him with his .38 revolver, which can heavily implicate him in the murder.

The DNA of two criminals known as Fremont and Coates is found at the scene, as well as a large amount of cash in Washington's possession. It is assumed that Washington himself was corrupt, despite his seemingly changed attitude, and that he had been stealing drugs from the department's evidence room and selling them to Fremont and Coates. Ludlow teams up with Detective Paul "Disco" Diskant, who has been assigned to the case to join him in his personal investigation.

Their search for the two involves some tough interrogation of a Latino gang member named Quiks, a Crips gang member named Grill, and a drug addict/dealer named Winston "Scribble", which eventually leads them to a house in the hills where they discover the bodies of the real Fremont and Coates buried in a shallow grave. The condition of the bodies makes it apparent that they were killed well before Washington's murder.

Ludlow and Disco, posing as dirty cops who are willing to take over Washington's supposed activity of stealing and selling drugs, are able to set up a meeting through Winston with two criminals masquerading as Fremont and Coates. Freemont and Coates then recognize Ludlow as the cop that was present at the convenience store robbery, prompting Ludlow to question who Freemont and Coates really are, and in turn Disco quickly states he recognizes the two, and he is shot and killed immediately, along with Winston.

Ludlow manages to kill both men and escapes back to his girlfriend's house, where a news report reveals the killers were undercover LASD deputies (Wander later states that the two had been in deep cover for so long that they "lost their fucking minds" and had become corrupt cops).

Ludlow retreats to where his girlfriend Grace Garcia is staying, and she confronts him. Shortly afterwards, Ludlow is subdued by Detective Cosmo Santos and Detective Dante Demille - two fellow officers from his unit. Taking Ludlow with them, the two admit that they planted Fremont and Coates' DNA and the drugs at the scene of Washington's murder. This causes Ludlow to learn that Washington was surrendering their captain, Jack Wander, up to Biggs, as they were the ones that were stealing drugs from the department's evidence room.

The two cops take Ludlow out to the house where the two bodies of the real Fremont and Coates were found earlier, for execution. However, Ludlow manages to kill both of them. He then heads to Washington's house to take care of their supervisor, Sergeant Mike Clady, who was about to kill Washington's widow. He captures Clady and places him in the trunk of his car.

Now aware of Wander's activities, Ludlow confronts him at his house and apprehends him after a brawl between them. He then discovers that Wander has incriminating evidence against almost all the officers in the department, along with the judges, councilmen and politicians; Wander had been concealing his unit's corruption to cover-up his crimes, and in the process has used the opportunity to become the department's captain. Wander, asserting that he is Ludlow's best-friend and mentor, attempts to buy off his silence by bribing him with a large amount of stolen money and incriminating documents - which Ludlow had uncovered from the wall moments ago. However, Ludlow refuses and executes Wander.

Soon afterwards, Captain Biggs and Sergeant Green arrive at the scene. Biggs reveals to Ludlow that they used him to bring down Wander and get access to his files by opening his eyes to the real corruption going on within his unit. As he leaves, Biggs tells Ludlow that the department does need him.


  • Keanu Reeves as Detective 2nd Grade Tom 'Phonebook Tom' Ludlow
  • Hugh Laurie as Captain Jimmy Biggs
  • Chris Evans as Detective Paul 'Disco' Diskant
  • Forest Whitaker as Captain Jack Wander
  • Naomie Harris as Linda Washington
  • John Corbett as Detective Dante Demille
  • Cedric the Entertainer as Winston 'Scribble'
  • Jay Mohr as Sergeant Mike Clady
  • Terry Crews as Detective 2nd Grade Terrence Washington
  • Common as corrupt psychotic LASD deputy masquerading as Coates
  • Cle Shaheed Sloan as corrupt psychotic LASD deputy masquerading as LeShawn Fremont
  • The Game as 'Grill'
  • Kenneth Choi as Boss Kim, the head of the Korean mafia in L.A.
  • Wally Rudolph as Thug Kim, Boss Kim's right-hand-man and enforcer
  • Garret Sato as Thug On Toilet, Member of the Korean mob
  • Victor Kobayashi as Thug Wearing Mask, Member of the Korean mob
  • Martha Higareda as Grace Garcia
  • Amaury Nolasco as Detective Cosmo Santos
  • Clifton Powell as Sergeant Green
  • Noel G. as 'Quicks'
  • Daryl Gates as Chief of Police
  • Patrick Gallagher as LAPD Captain
  • Joanne Chew as Park Twin #1, Her & her sister were kidnapped by the Korean mob
  • Kel Ann Hsieh as Park Twin #2, Her and her sister were kidnapped by the Korean mob
  • Kevin Benton as Lieutenant Van Buren
  • Emilio Rivera as OG Vato, Files a complaint against the LAPD
  • Michael D. Roberts as Older Black Man, Files a complaint against the LAPD
  • Kami Jones as Black Woman, Files a complaint the LAPD
  • Jernard Burks as Man Wearing Money Shirt, Files a complaint against LAPD Captain 'Silky' Sykes for stealing money for Captain Jack Wander's 'Cookie Jar'.
  • Jerry Schumacher as Captain 'Silky' Sykes (uncredited)


In 2004, it was announced that Spike Lee would be directing the film for a 2005 release.[3] In 2005, it was announced that Oliver Stone was in talks to direct the film.[4] However, Stone later denied this.[5] Training Day screenwriter David Ayer took over the project.

On February 5, 2008, it was announced that Fox Searchlight Pictures changed the film's title from The Night Watchman to Street Kings.[6]


Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes 36% of 152 reviews of the film are positive with average rating of 5.11/10. The site's consensus reads, "Street Kings contains formulaic violence but no shred of intelligence."[7] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 55 out of 100 based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[8]

Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $12.5 million from 2,467 theaters, finishing second at the box office. It went on to gross $26.4 million domestically and $39.2 million internationally for a total of $65.6 million.[9]

Home media[edit]

The DVD was released on August 19, 2008, as a single-disc offering with director commentary, and 2-disc special-edition set with numerous documentaries, interviews and a digital copy of the film. It is also available on Blu-ray disc with all the special features of the 2-disc DVD version. By January 2009, the film had made $14.6 million from DVD sales.[2]


The film is followed by a sequel, Street Kings 2: Motor City, released direct-to-video in 2011. Other than sharing an actor playing two different parts, the films are unrelated.


  1. ^ a b "Street Kings". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Street Kings (2008) - Financial Information". Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  3. ^ "The Night Watchman Movie - Keanu Reeves to Star in The Night Watchman (Street Kings)". 2004-11-16. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  4. ^ "The Night Watchman Movie - Oliver Stone May Direct The Night Watchman (Street Kings)". 2005-04-25. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  5. ^ var authorId = "" by IGN FilmForce. "IGN: Stone Denies Night Watchman". Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  6. ^ "The Night Watchman Retitled to Street Kings". 2008-02-05. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  7. ^ "Street Kings". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Street Kings (2008): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-10-25.
  9. ^ "Street Kings (2008) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved 2008-08-01.

External links[edit]