American Me

American Me

4.8 17

Cast: Edward James Olmos, William Forsythe, Pepe Serna, Danny De La Paz

     
 

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Edward J. Olmos made his directorial bow with the powerhouse crime saga American Me. Olmos stars as street-gang leader Santana, who during his 18 years in Folsom Prison rules over all the drug-and-murder activities behind bars. Upon his release, Santana goes back to his old neighborhood, intending to lead a peaceful, crime-free life. But his old gang buddiesSee more details below

Overview

Edward J. Olmos made his directorial bow with the powerhouse crime saga American Me. Olmos stars as street-gang leader Santana, who during his 18 years in Folsom Prison rules over all the drug-and-murder activities behind bars. Upon his release, Santana goes back to his old neighborhood, intending to lead a peaceful, crime-free life. But his old gang buddies force him back into his old habits. The omniprescene of the "Mexican Mafia" in the southwest is sufficient to make this film a daunting, demoralizing experience. Upon its release, American Me received a lot of press play due to the fact that Olmos shot his Folsom sequences on location, using actual prisoners as extras and bit players.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
This searing drama, the directorial debut of star Edward James Olmos, is an ambitious fusion of crime epic à la The Godfather and social exposé. It's a tough balance to pull off, but American Me works because it maintains this agenda by balancing brutal realism with dramatic subtlety. As it charts the way the criminal justice system allows misguided kids to become hardened criminals, the film achieves an impressive sense of tragic grandeur without ever pulling its punches or giving in to cheap melodrama. That said, American Me isn't an easy film to warm up to for more than one reason. The first is its refusal to flinch from the ugly reality of its subject matter; though it is never dealt out in a glorified manner, American Me presents the savage violence of the drug trade with a gruesome, vivid sense of detail that will shock many people. The other reason is that it doesn't give the viewer an identification figure to latch on to; the central characters aren't presented in a way that inspires sympathy, and none of them ever experience an audience-friendly moment of redemption. These factors may limit the appeal of American Me, but it remains well worth the effort for the brave viewer because it is an extremely well-made film. Olmos reveals himself to be quite a stylist behind the camera, making deft use of cross-cutting to amplify the film's level of drama during key sequences and crafting a number of nerve-jangling set pieces along the way (an assassination during a prison film screening is a standout). He also gives a powerful yet controlled performance as Santana, and his work is skillfully supported by an array of distinguished supporting performances, most notably Evelina Fernandez as his ill-fated love interest and Danny De La Paz as a colleague whose faithfulness to his criminal organization comes with a heavy cost. To sum up, American Me is not for every viewer but anyone interested in a powerful, realistic crime drama will find it a rewarding experience.

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Product Details

Release Date:
07/19/1995
UPC:
0096898126533
Original Release:
1992
Rating:
R
Source:
Universal Studios

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Edward James Olmos Santana Montoya
William Forsythe JD
Pepe Serna Mundo
Danny De La Paz Puppet
Evelina Fernandez Julie
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa El Japo
Daniel Villarreal Little Puppet
Sal Lopez Pedro
Daniel Haro Huero
Domingo Ambriz Pie Face
Vic Trevino Cheetah
Tom Bower Dornan (uncredited)
Panchito Gomez Young Santana
Richard Coca Young Mundo
Bob Morones Actor
Roberto Martin Marquez Acha
Dyana Ortelli Yolanda
Joe Aubel Tattoo Artist
Lance August Young Sailor
Cody Glenn Older Sailor
Don Pugsley Police Officer
Richard Lee-Sung Restaurant Owner
Ron Thompson Junkie
Grace Morley JD's Friend
Paul Bollen Doc
Rafael Robledo El Chucko
Michael Shaner Tony Scagnelli Jr.
Jaime Gomez Eddie
Jacob Vargas Paulito--Age 15
Rodney Rincon Shoe Salesman
Robert Pucci Bodyguard
Tony Giorgio Don Antonio Scagnelli
Manny Perry Arthur J.
Bennie Moore Ronnie Little
William Smith Deacon
Ken Medlock Cop
Rolando Molina Cop
Alex Brown Eddie Johnson
Abraham Verduzco Paulito (Age 7)
Robby Robinson Drug Thief

Technical Credits
Edward James Olmos Director,Producer
Lou Adler Producer
Joe Aubel Production Designer
Richard Candib Editor
Arthur Coburn Editor
Sean Daniel Producer
Brian Frankish Co-producer
Claude Gaudette Score Composer
Jim Halty Stunts
Dennis Lambert Score Composer
Floyd Mutrux Producer,Screenwriter
Desmond Nakano Screenwriter
Chuck Picerni Stunts
Martin Price Set Decoration/Design
Sylvia Vega-Vasquez Costumes/Costume Designer
Reynaldo Villalobos Cinematographer
Richard Yanez Production Designer
Irwin W. Young Producer
Robert M. Young Producer

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