American GangsterDirector: Ridley Scott
Director Ridley Scott spins this yarn concerning a Harlem drug kingpin (Denzel Washington) who smuggles heroin into the country by hiding it in the bodies of U.S. soldiers killed during battle in Vietnam. There was a time when no one noticed reserved driver Frank Lucas (Washington), but when the criminal kingpin he was charged with transporting through the city streets suddenly dies, Lucas seizes the opportunity to build his own criminal empire. In the following months, Lucas solidifies his status as Harlem's most innovative drug dealer by delivering a product that is purer than the competitors' and cheaper, as well. When innovative businessman Lukas attempts to go semi-legit by becoming one of the Manhattan borough's biggest civil supporters, however, street-savvy outcast cop Ritchie Roberts (Russell Crowe) begins to sense a sizable shift in the hierarchy of the drug underworld. But Roberts is one of the few honest detectives operating within a corrupt system, and as he sets out to investigate the case, crooked detective Trupo (Josh Brolin) does everything in his power to compromise the integrity of his idealistic counterpart. Upon clearing all of the usual Mafia-connected suspects, Roberts begins to believe that a previously unknown black power player has come out of the woodwork to dominate the local drug trade. While Roberts and Lucas may be operating on opposite sides of the law, the one thing that both men have in common is a strict code of ethics that separates them from their opportunistic colleagues. Now, as a confrontation between the two men becomes inevitable and the fate of each becomes inexorably tied to the other, it gradually becomes apparent that only one of them will emerge from the conflict victorious.
- Release Date:
- Original Release:
- Universal Studios
- [Wide Screen]
- [DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
- Sales rank:
Cast & Crew
|Denzel Washington||Frank Lucas|
|Russell Crowe||Richie Roberts|
|Chiwetel Ejiofor||Huey Lucas|
|Cuba Gooding||Nicky Barnes|
|Josh Brolin||Det. Trupo|
|Ted Levine||Lou Toback|
|Armand Assante||Dominic Cattano|
|Clarence Williams||Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson|
|John Ortiz||Javier J. Rivera|
|John Hawkes||Freddie Spearman|
|Yul Vázquez||Alfonse Abruzzo|
|Ruby Dee||Mama Lucas|
|Carla Gugino||Laurie Roberts|
|Joe Morton||Charlie Williams|
|Roger Guenveur Smith||Nate|
|Malcolm Goodwin||Jimmy Zee|
|Ric Young||Chinese General|
|Roger Bart||U.S. Attorney|
|Tip "T.I." Harris||Stevie Lucas|
|KaDee Strickland||Richie's Attorney|
|Norman Reedus||Detective in Morgue|
|J. Kyle Manzay||Dexter Lucas|
|Warner Miller||Melvin Lucas|
|Albert Jones||Terrence Lucas|
|Michael Costigan||Executive Producer|
|Nicholas Lundy||Art Director|
|Branko Lustig||Executive Producer|
|Arthur Max||Production Designer|
|Kathy Nelson||Musical Direction/Supervision|
|Nicholas Pileggi||Executive Producer|
|Darin John Rivetti||Asst. Director|
|William Sarokin||Sound/Sound Designer|
|Karen Kehela Sherwood||Executive Producer|
|Marc Streitenfeld||Score Composer|
|Jim Whitaker||Executive Producer|
|Janty Yates||Costumes/Costume Designer|
|Steven Zaillian||Executive Producer,Screenwriter|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This viewer rented the DVD form of AMERICAN GANGSTER, having passed it by in the theatrical run, thinking that it was yet another 'crime and corruption in New York' genre film. It was surprising to discover that this very long film (just under three hours in the Unrated version) is completely riveting and in a way far different than the usual gangster film: this story, based on real people as outlined in an article by Mark Jacobson (transformed for the screen by Steven Zaillian), and while it has its share of grisly killings, it seems more concerned with the issues of integrity in the face of police corruption as embodied in the character of Richie Roberts, the etiology of the heroin use escalation following the Vietnam War, and the presence of a 'Black Mafia' lead by one Frank Lucas. It is delivered with compelling gusto and intelligence by director Ridley Scott and has some of the best acting of the year. In other words, this is not a film to be lightly dismissed as a Hollywood retread, but instead it is a tense drama with many very fine points. Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) follows the footsteps of his idol Bumpy (Clarence Williams III) who 'ran' the Harlem streets, and when Bumpy dies, Lucas inherits his mantle. Lucas is wise, cunning, a gentleman, a powerhouse of ideas, and quickly finds a way to bring the best uncut heroin from the Far East to the streets of New York at a price that undercuts the other mobsters' product. To establish his control he enlists his family, including his brother Huey (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and rapidly becomes the kingpin of the streets. Simultaneously within the NYPD we meet Detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) whose personal life is a mess but who, with his partner Lou (Ted Levine) discovers corruption in the NYPD and more particularly the Drug Enforcement sector of the police: Detective Trupo (Josh Brolin) works with the existing drug lords, grabs their drugs and money and then recycles both to his benefit. During a particular drug bust, Richie and Lou discover a stash of nearly a million dollars and turn the money into the police - a deed that makes the duo seem foolish and lose the respect of their fellow cops but establishes Roberts as a man who is committed to being a good detective. From these two separate studies the film weaves the development of each character and the interaction between Roberts and Lucas we know will take place. The end result may be known to those who followed the story as it developed in the 1970s, but for those for whom this true story is new information, the resolution of the film is fast-paced, thrilling, illuminating, and just plain fine cinema. Both Washington and Crowe are in peak form, as are those in the many small roles (Ruby Dee, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin, Lymari Nadal, Carla Gugino, Cuba Gooding etc). This is more of a drama than an action film and while many may feel the final moments of the movie are weak, they do reveal the true ending of the story and say a lot about the narrow line between crime and criminal investigation. This is one of Ridley Scott's most successful films and one that will be around for many years as a model for the medium. Grady Harp
American Gangster is a gripping drama that captures the attention of the viewer very easily. It follows the life of Frank Lucas, a big time drug dealer in New York during the 1960's. It has a lot of action and violence that makes the movie more suspenseful. The acting in this movie is phenominal. It has an all-star cast headlined by Denzel Washington and Russel Crowe. The movie is pretty long, but you will not be dissapointed with one minute of the movie, American Gangster.
I thought it was a great film top to bottom. It was very riveting, as the character of Frank Lucas had real dynamism from Washington as the dope-trafficker phenomenon of Harlem that sank it into pitiful conditions. Russell Crowe had a comeback as well as the tough, subverting agent of corrupt police, judges, and drug pushers. While I may discredit the more glamorized versions of what they portray as the drug life, I thought the history of the New York drug culture was amazingly accurate and showed a spotlight on a period in America we rather ignore.
This was so diffent role for Denzel....but a very good movie
what a great movie. i dont know how many times i have watched it (more than 5 if u count cable tv). i never knew this person even existed til i looked more n2, american gangsster here is a good movie 2 watch.
it begins by telling of ellssworth "bumpy" johnson (clarence williams). hes an intellgent black gangster who runs alot of harlem. he teaches his right hand man frank lucas (denzel washngton)about life. as the movie continues bumpy dies from a heart attack & guess who now is the boss? from there it tells of frank lucas life as a leader begins & is good ntil the end. if i am not mistaken the real frank lucas is still alive 2day.
russell crow ---- what a good comback. he plays richie roberts, a nrwaek, nj detective, whos takin law classes at night. he has personal problems of his own but doesnot let that stop him from capturin frank (& he does a good job).
i cant 4get there is a great role played by the legendary Ruby Dee. when they chose her, they chose the right person 4 that part.