Why you should care

These might be your next best violent watches.

Like killer series and looking for something new to check out on your favorite streaming network? Here are four pivotal must-watches that will satisfy your desire for grit and drama, and leave you wanting more — from an older, underpublicized series on gangsta life à la The Wire to a brand-spanking-new feature film starring Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. But be forewarned: These series and films are not for the faint of heart.

Top Boy

Released in 2013, this gritty urban drama story follows Dushane (Ashley Walters), an East London drug dealer who has to come to grips with what it means to be the local “top boy” at Summerhouse Estates, the housing project where he grew up. With the help of his right-hand man, Sully (Kane Robson), Dushane builds a budding drug empire. Driving the series is the relationship between these two characters, the thinker-businessman and his unpredictable counterpart, as they navigate the waters of the criminal underworld. It’s a cacophony of bravado that oozes gangsta rap, but to a London beat. Since directing Top Boy, up-and-coming French director Yann Demange has gone on to critical acclaim with ’71 and the forthcoming White Boy Rick. With two seasons of four episodes each, you can binge-watch the whole series in one weekend.

Shot Caller

Released on iTunes in August, the film centers on Jacob (GOT’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a successful businessman who, after a tragic accident that kills his best friend, goes to prison for DUI manslaughter. There he falls in with “the Brand” (the Aryan Brotherhood), California’s infamous prison gang, and seemingly dedicates his life to them. But he has a hidden agenda that doesn’t come through until the gory finale. Written by director Ric Roman Waugh, the film is the third in a crime trilogy that includes Felon and Snitch. Taking viewers into California’s brutal prison gang culture, the movie is a fascinating look into a world that most people will never experience, where men are forced to make tough choices.

Frontier

This series from 2016 follows Declan Harp (Jason Momoa from GOT), an Irish-Indian trapper fighting the Hudson Bay Company’s monopoly on the fur trade. It’s a vivid look into what life was life for pioneers in 18th-century Canada, where big business tried to squeeze the independent operator and natives out of any money-making potential. Momoa’s roguish character carries the six-episode show, with his gruff and honest portrayal of a man fighting against tremendous odds, forced to deal with the consequences of his actions. It’s visually stunning, with a similar outdoorsy feel to The Revenant. Shot in 4K, the series was created by Peter and Rob Blackie for Discovery Canada, who picked up season two of the series, and will continue to air on Netflix.

Message From the King

This crime-noir flick follows Jacob King, a man who journeys from Cape Town to the underworld of Los Angeles to avenge his sister’s death. With one goal in mind, the very capable and dangerous King (played by Chadwick Boseman, who will star in Marvel’s Black Panther film early next year) embarks on a mission that’s not pretty, in a world that’s awash in sex, drugs and crime. While the amped-up violence may scream B movie, it becomes evident that Belgian director Fabrice Du Welz, a master of the genre, gave the film substance beyond the typical “wham, bam, thank you, ma’am” storyline. In his first English-language feature, Du Welz shows that his skills translate to Hollywood with focused, intense, rapid-fire precision.

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If you’d want to drink it, eat it, wear it, ride it, drive it; if it’d be cool to see, listen to or do, we’re writing about it.