"Heart-Wrenching, Raw Drama"
What You Need To Know:
CHARM CITY KINGS is based on the documentary “12 O’CLOCK BOYS,” which focused on gangs of motorcyclists in Baltimore and their constant battle with the police. The narrative is a beautiful depiction of the real story, with compelling characters and elements that can tug at the viewer’s heartstrings. However, the story involves lots of bad behavior, although there’s a substantial redeeming element at the end. CHARM CITY KINGS also has constant, excessive foul language, strong violence, some lewd comments, and references to gangs using teenage boys to deliver illegal drugs.
CHARM CITY KINGS follows 14-year-old “Mouse” as he begins a very exciting summer. School has just let out, and although for a lot teenagers that means family vacation, swimming and sun, all that Mouse can think about is “The Ride.” Every Sunday of the summer, almost every living person in Baltimore comes out to the streets to watch the daring motorcyclists ride. People come decked out in their gear and ride their motorcycles, dirt bikes and four-wheelers up and down the street. The best ones can get their bike so far back that they are at a 12 o’clock position, with the front wheel pointing straight up to the sky. Mouse and his friends are pumped for it and head over to the pretty new girl’s house to invite her too. Her name is Nicki, and Mouse tells her about this event, making it sound like the most magical thing in the world.
Against the protests of his mother, Mouse immediately leaves the house after she is gone for night school, paying his little sister to keep her mouth shut. He meets up with his friends and they head over. The streets are alive with the rumble as hundreds of people have come out for the first ride of the summer. Suddenly, the streets part ways for a big gang of intimidating motorcyclists arriving, doing loads of tricks along the way. Mouse and his friends gaze upon what is the Midnight Clique, the most powerful motorcycle gang in Baltimore, which included Mouse’s older brother before he died. Among the riders, he sees someone that he recognizes as Blax, a member who has just gotten out of prison. Mouse attempts a 12 o’clock with his small ATV but is sent flying forward, face to asphalt. Of course, his new crush Nicki was there just in time to see it. Suddenly, there are sirens and police cars begin to close in. One gang member throws a brick at a police car window and then makes a run for it.
Mouse is soon approached by an officer named Detective Rivers, who was assigned to be his mentor a few years ago in school. He tells Mouse he doesn’t want to see him anymore around The Ride and encourages him to continue working at the animal hospital. Mouse has always wanted to be a veterinarian, which is how he got his nickname in the first place, but seeing the Midnight Clique is causing a shift in his priorities.
Soon, Mouse finds himself at a mechanical garage talking to one of his heroes, Blax. Blax works at the shop there and offers to teach Mouse a few things about riding and properly maintaining a bike, if he will come in everyday bright and early, and build it himself. He convinces his two best friends to do it too, but soon he is the only one there, working hard at building himself a bike, while lying to his mother about working at the hospital. Blax sees that Mouse is a good kid, and when his gang friends come offer him a “job”, Blax makes it clear that he isn’t interested. However, when Mouse sees his mom crying over a pile of overdue bills, he turns to the Midnight Clique to make some extra cash. This begins to lead Mouse and his friends down a dark and dangerous path from which most people, like his brother, don’t return.
CHARM CITY KINGS is based on the documentary “12 O’Clock Boys” that showcases the motorcycle gangs in Baltimore that run the city and constantly battle with the police. Children get involved in these groups from a very young age and buy into the ideology that they are being taught in this society. This story does a great job at staying very true to the authenticity of the real riders and creating a compelling narrative that speaks loudly to the audience. The whole style of film is very natural, with performances to go along with it. However, the worldview can be pretty negative with the pursuit of personal gain of power and wealth being a primary goal. However, there is a substantial redeeming element where a man selflessly sacrifices his entire life and future so that a teenage boy can have a second chance at his life. Sadly, the obscenities and profanities are extremely excessive, totaling well over 300, and there’s a strong amount of gang violence and some drug-related subject matter. CHARM CITY KINGS is particularly excessive.