A truly absorbing crime drama, similar in tone and style to mob classics Goodfellas
and The Departed
, this is one of the best films of the year. Based on factual events, we see how Frank Lucas, by importing heroin from Asia during the Vietnam War, rose to become the drug kingpin who ruled New York. What sets the movie apart from others in the genre is the fact that we don't get a sugar-coated view of his meteoric rise, we see all his faults and failings. Like his hot-headedness which leads to flashes of violence, even against his own family. We also see the effects that the heroin had on everyday people, the senseless deaths made the government finally accept that America had a drug problem.
Denzel Washington has to be applauded for taking on a role of a despicable mob boss, you might like the actor but you really won't like the character. He's mean and tough, and he's got a tenacious cop on his trail, played by Russell Crowe. Both actors do some of their best work, and you can't wait for the scenes where they face-off. And with Lucas trying to control New York, it's obvious the Italians won't take that lying down, enter veteran Armand Assante in scene-stealing mode as crime boss Don Cattano. Special mention must also be made about Josh Brolin, who playes a corrupt cop with sublime shadiness. The directing by Ridley Scott is top-notch, with the look of 1980's New York seamlessly authentic.
A brilliant film, showing us a chapter in American history most of us would never have known (I certainly never knew how influential African-American mobsters were in the drug trade, I just assumed the Italian mafia were always in charge.) Well worth your time, a new mob classic. (4 out of 5, by Carlisle Johnson)
Academy Award winners Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe team with director Ridley Scott in this powerfully epic crime story set in New York. Armed with the ruthless, streetwise tactics and a strict sense of honour, crime boss Frank Lucas (Washington) rules Harlem's chaotic drug underworld. When outcast cop Richie Roberts (Crowe) sets out to bring down Lucas's multimillion-dollar empire, it plunges both men into a legendary confrontation.
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Review This Product
Tue, 1 Apr 2008 | Review by: Micky B
Rather frighteningly based on fact, it’s almost as though Serpico meets The French Connection in this one. Ridley Scott directs Russell Crowe yet again, though it’s Denzel Washington in the lead role, and – unusually – as the Bad Guy!
Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) takes control of the Harlem “Mob,” and starts a big-time operation of smuggling heroin into America during the Vietnam War – using military aircraft and personnel for his purposes. In the process, he has to make deals with the Italian Mafia…as well as pay bribes to numerous NYC police officials.
However, his activities attract the attention of Detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) – whose incorruptible standards have earned him derision and hatred, rather than respect, from his fellow officers. Everything is going wrong in Ritchie’s life. Even his marriage is failing...while he is trying to study part-time for a law degree.
And Lucas also has to contend with local crime-lord Nicky Barnes (Cuba Gooding Jr) who is diluting Lucas’ product before selling himself it under the original name of “Blue Magic.”
A superb crime thriller that sets a new standard in the genre.
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