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Details
Market July 26, 2016    Sold August 17, 2016
Producer Ridley Scott
Agent Ben Jacobson, Carolyn Sivitz, Emerson Davis (UTA)
Manager Josh Goldenberg, Lindsay Framson (Kaplan/Perrone)
Financier Scott Free
12-2-2016 -- Julius Avery (Son of a Gun) attached to direct.
Loglines
Set in the 1970s, tells the true story of Darnell Garcia, a man who went from star DEA agent to drug trafficker in the worst corruption scandal in DEA history, moving 100s of millions in product and then being forced to flee for his life. Catch Me if You Can meets Scarface.
A disgruntled DEA agent goes rogue after he feels he's no longer appreciated by the organization, starting a corruption scandal to get rich and fill his unquenchable lust for ambition and success.
A Kung Fu champion obsessed with controlling his destiny seeks to make a name for himself in the Reagan-era DEA, but becomes mired in a major drugs scandal and has to go on the run, targeted by Nancy Reagan herself.
A martial artist turned DEA agent living in the 80s begins a slow descent into the criminal world of drug dealing, eventually becoming one of the most wanted men at the time.
Format
Film
Hour-Long Serialized
Genres
Action, Thriller, Biopic, Period, Agent, Corruption, Dramedy, Film, Government, Organized Crime
Pages
115
Rated
R
Budget
Ultra High
Lead
M Other 35 Average
Similar
Catch Me If You Can, Scarface, American Gangster, Narcos, Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, Traffic
When
1980s/8 months with flashbacks to points within the past 16 years.
Where
Los Angeles, New York, Switzerland, Milan, stash house, various mansions, various jets and cars, nightclubs, drug dens, karate schools, Miami, Brazil (favelas and Rio), DEA building, courtroom, interrogation room, various diners/cafes, White House, Paris.

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Synopsis
The year is 1988. NANCY REAGAN (?) decorates a Christmas tree at Camp David, as HOWARD BAKER (?), Reagan’s Chief of Staff, fills her in on details relating to a high-value fugitive. She wants his head.

In Zurich, this fugitive, DARNELL GARCIA (38), packs gold bars and passports into a duffle bag in a hotel room. DEA agents swarm the room, but Darnell ambushes them and escapes. As Darnell is on the run, he narrates his life’s accomplishments with various inserts: a karate champion, movie star, gold trader, and DEA golden boy. He claims he was only ever guilty of being himself.

We flashback to a year earlier, in the favelas of Rio. Darnell secretly tries to steal money from a Vermelho Cartel boss, JOÃO SOSA (?). Just as a firefight is about to break out upon his discovery, time goes in reverse, and we again flashback, this time to Los Angeles, 1971.

Darnell toils in an airplane factory, and notices when his coworkers and boss take up karate as a new fad. He is challenged by his boss and loses, but becomes enamored with karate. He goes to see CHUCK NORRIS (?) fight at a karate championship, and gets his autograph. The...
Reader 1 Comments
OVERALL (RECOMMEND)
“The King of LA” is a thrilling, focused, and keenly self-aware character deconstruction that uses the making and breaking of Darnell Garcia to offer a funny and prescient satire of the 1980’s War on Drugs and its surrounding politics. While the narrative masquerades at first as a standard action film, a large, wide-spanning exposition into Darnell’s past and wild career instantly infuses the plot with a novel tone of surrealism and dark humor, which is given plenty of opportunity to shine as a fast pace and chaotic yet purposeful non-linear structure weaves us in and out of the tribulations of a deeply flawed man on his journey towards mental breakdown and inevitable self-defeat. Dialogue and surrounding characters cast a world couched in a wittily contemporary cynicism, and all roads lead back to Darnell and his inner demons in a way that is a compelling, over-the-top spectacle, yet also deeply relatable through Darnell’s deeply articulated flaws and paranoia over his purpose in life. While many tropes and literary mechanisms are borrowed from its contemporaries in the drugs and crime genre, “The King of LA” synthesizes these elements in a way that feels fresh in how they are applied to Darnell’s character specifically....
Reader 2 Comments
OVERALL (RECOMMEND)
The story of a major DEA scandal in the 1980s, featuring a Kung Fu champion that hung out with Chuck Norris and choreographed Bruce Lee movies before becoming a DEA agent. A quirky crime film full of 80s references, in which a fascinating main character with supernatural mind power is pursued by no less than Nancy Reagan, that builds up to a scandal that epitomised the vices and virtues of the DEA and its war on drugs. 'The King of LA' successfully balances entertaining over-the-top action scenes, delighting in martial arts and gangster kitsch, with a more serious, intimate portrait of a man's quest for meaning and significance in the midst of all the craziness, striking an unusual tone that is nonetheless very fitting for the subject matter. Pacing is uneven, due to excessive reliance on voiceover narration to drive the action, and a weak structure that favours an episodic chronology of life events lacking in tension, especially in the second act....
Reader 3 Comments
OVERALL (PASS)
“The King of LA” tells the true story of Darnell Garcia, a martial artist turned DEA agent who slowly made his descent into the criminal world, becoming one of the most wanted men by the American government. While the executions of the premise is original and the protagonist is compelling, “The King of LA” suffers from an unorganized structure and a lack of an internal conflict. Despite Garcia’s intriguing role as father, karate champion, government agent, and drug dealer, the lack of internal conflict or moral dilemma makes it difficult for his character to undergo any change, making him unlikeable and unsympathetic. This lack of development is further highlighted by a structure which lacks focus and occasionally disrupts the pacing....