Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gil Junger|
|Produced by||Arnon Milchan|
Darryl J. Quarles
|Written by||Darryl J. Quarles|
|Music by||Randy Edelman|
|Edited by||Michael R. Miller|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$39.9 million|
Black Knight is a 2001 American fantasy adventure comedy film directed by Gil Junger and starring Martin Lawrence. In addition to Lawrence, Black Knight had a supporting cast of Marsha Thomason, Tom Wilkinson, Vincent Regan, and Kevin Conway. In the film, Lawrence plays Jamal, a theme park employee who is transported through time to medieval England. The film was shot at various locations in North Carolina, mainly Wilmington and Carolina Beach. Black Knight was theatrically released on November 21, 2001 to negative reviews and grossed $39.9 million against a production budget of $50 million.
Jamal Walker (Martin Lawrence) is an everyday slacker with a job at a theme park called Medieval World, which is about to receive big competition from another theme park, Castle World. While cleaning a moat surrounding the park, he finds a medallion, and when he tries to retrieve it he gets sucked into the past. He awakes in 1328 in England, where he is first met by a drunkard named Knolte (Tom Wilkinson). He then searches for Castle World, but he finds a castle that he thinks is Castle World, so he decides to check it out. The tenants of the castle believe him to be a French Moor, from Normandy, because he tells them he is from Florence and Normandie, a famous intersection in South Central Los Angeles.
Jamal is soon taken in by the reigning king, King Leo (Kevin Conway). He is assumed to be a messenger from Normandy whom the king believes to be bringing news of an alliance between England and Normandy. Although at first Jamal thinks that all the people around him are just actors in a theme park he changes his mind when he witnesses a beheading. He gives his name as Jamal "Sky" Walker after his high school basketball nickname, and, after gaining trust from the king by accidentally preventing his assassination, Jamal is made a lord and head of security. While all of this is going on, Jamal learns from Victoria (Marsha Thomason), a chambermaid, about the ruthless way the king came to power by overthrowing the former queen.
Jamal, believing the situation to be beyond his control states to Victoria that "He is not the guy you're looking for." After a brief debate with Victoria who states that he wears the medallion and this deems him to be a man of honor. Victoria, frustrated with Jamal's refusal to intervene leaves believing Jamal to be a coward. Later that night the daughter of the king, Princess Regina (who is infatuated with Jamal) (Jeannette Weegar) sneaks into Jamal's bedroom. Jamal, believing the princess to be Victoria sleeps with Regina.
When the real Norman messenger arrives seeking the Princess Regina's hand in marriage on behalf of his liege, Jamal is exposed as a fraud. The actions of the previous night have rendered an alliance with Normandy impossible, infuriating the king. Jamal is thrown straight into the dungeon and arraigned for execution with the two assassins from the previous attempt on Leo's life.
In the dungeon, the two failed assassins tell the tale of the Black Knight. It is stated that the Knight could not be bought or bribed, but would only fight for justice. It was told that he was swallowed whole by a fierce dragon. With a sword of gold he cut himself from the belly of the beast and he himself could breath the fire of the dragon.
When the two rebels and Jamal are brought forth for execution. Jamal as a last resort and fearing his life, poses himself as a sorcerer and attempts to scare the superstitious onlookers to make his escape. As the executioner begins to choke on an apple, the crowd believe Jamal to have cast a spell of death upon him. In the commotion, Jamal saves the executioner using the Heimlich Manoeuvre. Using this distraction and flaming arrows fired from outside the walls, Jamal escapes the castle with the aid of Victoria and finally Knolte on horseback.
He also learns that Knolte was really knight of the former queen who was disgraced when she lost her throne. Through their help and his own realization of the situation, Jamal soon understands he must help overthrow King Leo and help restore the queen to her throne.
With some effort, Jamal manages to convince the decimated rebels and townsfolk to band together to overthrow the king. Using modern-day tactics used in American football and pro wrestling, he gives the peasants the means to fight the armed and armoured king's guards. Out of gratitude for helping him find his honour again, Knolte teaches some basic sword-fighting manoeuvres to Jamal, and also tells him that he has an idea that may give them an advantage in the upcoming battle.
The next day, Knolte and the rebels storm the castle, only to find themselves quickly surrounded by guards and Leo's bodyguard, Percival (Vincent Regan). Seemingly outmatched by armour, archers and cavalry the rebels are pushed back. The tide turns briefly when the legendary Black Knight charges in, breathing fire and scattering the guards, but the plan goes awry when he falls from his horse and is revealed to be Jamal in disguise. Using their newfound skills, the peasants succeed in overpowering the guards, but Knolte is severely wounded by a longbow shot from Percival, who takes Victoria hostage. King Leo is scared since his troops are being defeated, and asks Percival for safety. Percival, who already sees Leo as pathetic and weak as a leader, kills him and throws him in the moat. Charging to the rescue, Jamal surprises Percival with his fighting skills, rescuing Victoria. However, after waking from being knocked out by Jamal, Percival is then shot dead by Knolte before he could administer a killing blow to Jamal. Jubilation surrounds the rebels when they realise victory is theirs.
After the Queen's reign is restored, Jamal is knighted by her. During the dubbing, he awakes back at Medieval World surrounded by his co-workers and a medical team, who saved him from drowning in the moat, implying that Jamal's entire adventure was a dream. After being saved Jamal's whole attitude changes, and he helps his boss to make Medieval World better so that Castle World will not run them out of business. Later on, Jamal takes a walk around the new Medieval World and meets a woman named Nicole (Thomason) who looks just like Victoria. They talk a little and he asks her out to lunch. Unfortunately, Jamal forgets to get Nicole's number, and when he tries to catch up to her, he accidentally falls back into the moat, waking up in the Colosseum of Ancient Rome, where he is about to be devoured by lions.
- Martin Lawrence as Jamal Walker/"Skywalker"
- Marsha Thomason as Victoria the Chambermaid/Nicole
- Tom Wilkinson as Sir Knolte of Marlborough
- Kevin Conway as King Leo
- Vincent Regan as Percival
- Daryl Mitchell as Steve
- Michael Countryman as Phillip
- Jeannette Weegar as Princess Regina
- Erik Jensen as Derek
- Dikran Tulaine as Dennis
- Helen Carey as The Queen
- Robert Alan Harris as King Leo's Squire
The film was announced to release on November 21, 2001 by Fox.
The film opened at #4 at the U.S. box office on its opening weekend with $11.2 million. Black Knight grossed $39.9 million worldwide against a $50 million budget.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 14% based on 98 reviews, with an average rating of 3.52/10. The site's consensus states, "Black Knight feels like a lazily constructed movie, filled with lame gags and constant mugging from Lawrence." The film has also drawn attention from scholars. Addressing it as one of the few contemporary films that cast African American characters in medieval settings, Laurie A. Finke and Martin B. Shichtman noted that the film provided commentary on early 21st-century race relations in the United States, noting that despite his triumphs in the medieval setting, by the end, Jamal "continues to live in white America, which requires hybridity, not dominance, from African American men. He may be a better man for his excellent medieval adventure, but he is still black, poor, underemployed, and living in the hood.”
Awards and nominations
Motion Picture Sound Editors
- Nominated for Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing - Music - Feature Film, Domestic and Foreign
- Black Knight (2001). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
- "Fox/New Regency Comedy ``Black Knight, Starring Martin Lawrence, to Open Nov. 21". Business Wire. Berkshire Hathaway. July 11, 2001. Archived from the original on August 21, 2001. Retrieved June 5, 2019 – via Yahoo.com.
- "Domestic 2001 Weekend 47". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- "Black Knight (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2019-08-10.
- Finke, Laurie; Shichtman, Martin (2010). Cinematic illuminations: the Middle Ages on film. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 364. ISBN 9780801893445.