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 schoolteacher teaching fourth 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!
Under-funded schools with a large percentage of poverty-ridden students often find it difficult to provide a high quality education, but sometimes it just takes one special teacher to spark the interests and intellects of an entire classroom of children. Richard Mason (Ted Danson), a white-haired, recently unemployed businessman, decides to revive his long-dormant passion for teaching by accepting a substitute teaching position at a poverty ridden public school in the South Bronx. Thrown into a fourth-grade classroom, Mr. Mason is at first doubtful of his ability to positively impact a classroom of students that include a smart-mouthed, seemingly stupid boy named Jimmy (Malcom David Kelley), a crack-addict's daughter Kenya (Keke Palmer), French immigrant M.D. (Yves Michel-Beneche), and Kindergartner Dawson (Antonio Ortiz) who has no place to go but his sister's classroom once his half-day Kindergarten class finishes for the day. When student Jimmy stumbles upon Mr. Mason in the park one weekend, he discovers that his teacher is a brilliant chess player and becomes completely intrigued by the game. Suddenly, Mr. Mason realizes that the game of chess might just provide a whole new way to reach a classroom full of unwilling students. Soon, his students are showing up early for school in order to play chess, participating in class, and even doing their homework. As Mr. Mason encourages his students to perfect their games and enter a local chess tournament, each child's sense of self-worth grows as do their test scores in all subjects. Ultimately, the children become superior chess players as well as firm believers that if they refuse to give in to anger and use their intellect, they can become just about anything they want to be. Based on the true experience of David MacEnulty, Knights of the South Bronx is a well-acted, potent presentation about the power of intellect and self-confidence. (Ages 8 and older with parental guidance) --Tami Horiuchi
A heartwarmer...uplifting. Danson makes us believe. --The Hollywood Reporter