Two of my favourite movies "Goodfellas" and "Casino" were written by Nicholas Pileggi, unfortunately not everything that Pileggi writes is turned into a good movie which is the case of the disappointing "Kings of South Beach". Now admittedly "Kings of South Beach" is a made for TV movie which doesn't have Scorsese behind the camera or De Niro in front of it but even so what Pileggi's story has been turned into is a dull, routine movie about an undercover cop trying to take down a Miami crime lord. In fact this crime story is not only routine but also often corny that it is at times hard to believe that "Kings of South Beach" is based on a true story.
Brooklyn cop, Andy Burnett (Donnie Wahlberg - Saw III) is sent undercover to Miami to get in with Chris Troiano (Jason Gedrick) the man behind Miami's most popular night club. Over a few months Andy manages to gain Chris's confidence going from doorman to loyal right hand man and in doing so finds that Chris has connections with Russian mobsters and also Allie Boy (Steven Bauer) a domestic crime lord. But as Andy gets deeper involved not only does it put him at greater risk but also causes concern amongst his superiors as they think he maybe getting in too deep and about to cross the line.
So "Kings of South Beach" is based on a true story, trust me after watching it you wouldn't know if it wasn't for the prompts at the end about the real case and what happened. And the reason you wouldn't know is that all we get is routine cop undercover drama. We watch Andy progress up to trusted right hand man, proving himself to be valuable and loyal and at the same time finding himself making friends which skews his moral compass. We also see that officials think he may be in too deep and to accompany all this we have the mob element so some fighting, car chases and shooting. It is all extremely routine with nothing, even the predictable wire scene, failing to make it feel original.
But being routine is not the only issue because "Kings of South Beach" is full of padding. Now admittedly we have a movie which often takes place in nightclubs but there is a lot more scenes of dancing and night clubbing than is needed to the point it gets cheesy. Cheesy is exactly the pointless scene which sees Andy strap on a pair of roller skates and pick up an attractive skater, it's a clumsy scene which is meant to be comical but is only painful.
Painful is pretty much how the acting is because we have Donnie Wahlberg playing yet another dour cop who speaks at one level with one syllable words and is not that interesting to follow. Little better is Jason Gedrick as Chris Troiano who does at least try to bring his character to life although when you are saddled with cliche dialogue in cliche scenes it is hard going. And beyond that we have a few pretty women, some heavies and cops and yes that is Ricardo Chavira from "Desperate Housewives" in an unimportant role.
What this all boils down to is that "Kings of South Beach" was not even an average made for TV undercover cop drama which is surprising when you consider it was written by Nicholas Pileggi. It might be based on a true story but all it contains is routine action, scenes and characters with too much padding and some seriously corny dialogue.