Knights of the South Bronx
Middle-aged and recently unemployed, Richard Mason (Ted Danson) decides to return to his first love: teaching. He finds a job as an inner-city schoolteacherassigned to thefourth grade. Richard discovers a way to reach out to his skeptical students through the game of chess. Against all odds, he inspires his students to become champions, not only at chess, but in life! Ted Danson gives a compelling performance in this heroic, heartwarming story based on true events co-starring Keke Palmer and Malcolm David Kelley. Knights of the South Bronx proves that no matter who you are or where you come from, if you play like a winner, you can be a king! 90 minutes.
Knights of the South Bronx
Ted Danson stars in the inspiring true story of an inner-city teacher who taught his students to be champions. Danson stars as English teacher David MacEnulty in this true story of heroism and inspiration. It depicts one man's struggle to better the lives of underprivileged children from the South Bronx, and by teaching themhe transforms their lives and the lives of thousands of other kids, their families, and their neighborhoods. A&E Network has co-produced the film with Fox Television Studios (FtvS).
When Richard Mason, a successful, middle-aged suburban New Yorker, is fired from his job, he returns to his first love: teaching. He gets a temporary job as a substitute teacher for a fourth grade class in a rough, inner-city South Bronx school. The kids are tough and unruly, but he quickly sees some glimmers of hope.
On the first day of class, Richard is confronted by plenty of attitude from his student Jimmy, who is filled with anger and who sees no point in school. Jimmy's little brother Dawson comes to class after morning kindergarten is over; Richard realizes Jimmy babysits Dawson half of each day, because there is nowhere else for Dawson to go.
Jimmy is forced by a gang to steal a bike, and when he almost gets caught he drops the bike and runs to hide amid a crowd of people watching and playing chess. He sees his teacher Mr. Mason playing fourteen opponents at once - and beating them all! Jimmy has newfound respect for his teacher when Mason explains chess is like two armies going to war;Jimmy becomes fascinated with the game.
Mason gets the idea that these kids could gain an education and self esteem by learning chess. The students are invigorated, but the principal is wary;Mason is not following the lesson plan, so how could the children be learning? Mason puts math problems on the blackboard and declares there will be no chess until the math assignment is done. The kids scramble to do the problems, using their new chess brain skills.
It is quickly apparent that chess is making a huge difference in the kids' lives. Attendance is better, test scores and grades are higher. When the kids learn they can compete for prizes and trophies in chess tournaments, just like other sports, they show Richard they're willing to work even harder to earn the chance to compete.
Their first tournament is at the opposing team's school - a private school filled with mostly wealthy white kids. The South Bronx students are highly distracted by the beautiful and well-equipped school and by their opponents' uniforms and skin color. One by one, the South Bronx kids lose to their opponents - all except five year-old Dawson, who easily wins his match.
Mason gives a pep talk to his disappointed team. Arnie comes to class to help them analyze their games. They practice hard. They may not have the rich kids' gear, but they decide they can at least have a team name, and they share a cheer for the Knights of the South Bronx!
Each one wins in the next tournament. The opponents' coach is very impressed with the performance of the kids, even more so when he finds out they don't have coaches or time clocks. He gives Mason $300 to buy the team time clocks.
There remains only one final arena of competition for the young Knights to conquer - the Nationals! Mason has the Knights practice without their chess boards. If they want to have a chance to win the big tournament, they must learn to play the game in their heads! However, principal Walker has bad news. The applications for the nationals have arrived, and the registration fee is $75 per child, plus the airfare to Dallas. There's no way the school can afford the trip. They decide to have a bake sale and alert the media. Hundreds show up, including celebrities, but they still don't have enough money.
The next day at school, Mason is about to tell the kids they will not be able to go to the Nationals. But before he can say it, a rich elderly woman shows up to pay the balance - and then some. Mason and the team are on their way to Dallas! But will they be able to triumph in their biggest challenge yet?
In Knights of the South Bronx David MacEnulty strenuously argued that chess was not just a game but a set of mind skills that would enable children to face challenges they would encounter in their lives. They not only learned the art of competition, but triumphed by beating private school teams across the entire country.