The film deals with the criminal ways and violent lives of a group of modern-day Gypsies based in New York City. Whilst on his deathbed their “king”, Zharko Stepanowicz (Sterling Hayden), passes his position of leadership on to his unwilling grandson, Dave (Eric Roberts). In spite of Dave’s reluctance to become the Gypsies’ new leader, Dave’s father, Groffo (Judd Hirsch), is sufficiently insecure and resentful over not winning the title himself that he attempts to have his own son killed. This leads to a major confrontation, and the film ends with the implication that Dave may finally accept his legacy with his voiceover musings about somehow bringing the rest of the tradition-bound Gypsies forward in time into the world of 20th Century customs and lifestyles.
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