Saturday movie review: Life of a King

Though it's an older movie, I had never heard of LIFE OF A KING until scrolling through the Netflix Streaming options the other day for something to watch for this week's movie review. It wasn't a big hit in the theaters, but I found a fair number of redeeming factors in the 2013 film.

life of a king movie

LIFE OF A KING stars Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Eugene Brown. The film is "inspired by" Brown's mission to give kids of inner city Washington, D.C. hope for a better life... through playing chess. Brown was a recently paroled criminal when he came face-to-face with young high school students heading down the same—wrong!—path he did that landed him in prison. He chose to put the chess skills he learned in prison to good use, opening the Big Chair Chess Club in hopes of providing not only a safe place for the kids to go, but the chance for the kids to find hope and opportunity.

Brown's motto (and movie tagline) of "think before you move" applied to life even more so than to the chess game for the kids he impacted with his chess house. Gooding played the part with sincere compassion and caring for the teens who came from difficult backgrounds and often believed crime was their only way out of their hopeless situations. Dennis Haysbert and LisaGay Hamilton turn in strong roles supporting Brown in his mission.

The movie reminded me at times of Michelle Pfeiffer's DANGEROUS MINDS. The teachers and other impact adults that dare work with high-risk teens and make a difference in their lives continually impress and inspire me. I don't have the courage to do such things; thankfully folks like Louanne Johnson (Pfeiffer's real-life counterpart) and Eugene Brown do.

I wouldn't say LIFE OF A KING was one of the best movies ever (and the box office numbers support that) or even a favorite of mine now, but it was entertaining and inspirational. Educational, too, as I learned of the Big Chair Chess Club, which continues to offer at-risk teens hope and a place to hang out. You can read more about it at

Here, a bit more about the movie:

LIFE OF A KING (rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some drug content and brief violent images—all involving teens) is available on Netflix Streaming, other streaming options, DVD, and Blu-ray.