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Empire
     

Empire

3.6 3
Director: Franc. Reyes

Cast: John Leguizamo, Peter Sarsgaard, Denise Richards

 

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A man who has made good in an illegal business discovers going straight is a more complicated matter than he imagined in this urban drama. Victor Rosa (John Leguizamo) is a drug dealer who has made a small fortune selling a heroin-based drug cocktail he's concocted called "Empire." Victor doesn't see himself as a dope pusher; instead, he considers himself an

Overview

A man who has made good in an illegal business discovers going straight is a more complicated matter than he imagined in this urban drama. Victor Rosa (John Leguizamo) is a drug dealer who has made a small fortune selling a heroin-based drug cocktail he's concocted called "Empire." Victor doesn't see himself as a dope pusher; instead, he considers himself an entrepreneur and a businessman who is simply making the most of the economic opportunities presented to him in the ghetto. Through his girlfriend Carmen (Delilah Cotto), Victor makes the acquaintance of Jack Wimmer (Peter Sarsgaard), an upscale investment banker who admires Victor's business savvy and street smarts. Victor is interested in getting out of drug dealing and into a legitimate business, and when Jack offers Victor the chance to buy into a new business, Victor eagerly accepts and makes a good profit in the deal. After this, Victor is all the more enthusiastic when Jack gives him the opportunity to invest in a much bigger project; the price, however, is more than Victor can afford, and he has to borrow from another high-stakes drug dealer, La Columbiana (Isabella Rossellini) in order to make the nut. It isn't long before Victor learns La Columbiana is not a good person to be in debt to -- and that Jack may not be all he imagined him to be. Empire marked the directorial debut of dancer and choreographer Franc Reyes; the supporting cast includes Denise Richards, Sonia Braga, Ruben Blades, and rapper Fat Joe.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Are Wall Street’s high-powered financiers any less ruthless or corrupt than the violent drug dealers who control entire neighborhoods in the Bronx? That’s the question forcefully posed in this gripping, innovative crime drama written and directed by promising young filmmaker Franc Reyes. John Leguizamo, a well-liked comic and an underrated dramatic actor, portrays Victor Rosa, an upwardly mobile Puerto Rican mobster who’d like nothing more then to move into a Manhattan penthouse with his lovely girlfriend, Carmen (newcomer Delilah Cotto). He thinks his chance might be just around the corner after meeting Wall Street hotshot Jack (Peter Sarsgaard), the smooth-talking boyfriend of Carmen’s college chum Trish (Denise Richards). Jack convinces Victor to launder drug money in a promising investment, which doesn’t quite pan out. Without giving away too much of the convoluted plot, we’ll just say that Victor doesn’t take to market losses with the passivity of most investors. Leguizamo pulls off the neat trick of engendering audience sympathy for a basically unlikable character, a hard-as-nails tough guy (a killer, in fact) who yearns for a respectable life with the woman he loves. Sarsgaard is deliciously smarmy, and Richards makes an alluring and amoral femme fatale. Empire will strike some viewers as a cross between GoodFellas and Wall Street, and justifiably so. This is a deftly written, skillfully played, and endlessly fascinating movie that thumbs its nose at genre conventions. The plot twists and turns with invigorating heedlessness, and you’ll be glued to your chair from first scene to last.
All Movie Guide
Overreaching from its title onward, Empire has a lot more ambition than ability to deliver on it. The film borrows liberally, though not skillfully, from Martin Scorsese's template for crime drama, and it owes a specific debt to Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way, with John Leguizamo substituting for Al Pacino as the Latino gangster trying to get out. To be fair, Empire does flirt with big ideas, and has real desire to give the mob movie a 21st century urban makeover. Its distinct chapters give it that epic quality, as the plot starts with the intense cauldron of gangland politics, then pulls off a radical shift in tone to the gangster's movements within yuppie society. Empire conjures both ends of Leguizamo's criminal spectrum with credibility, from legit street characters to a smartly seductive white savior (Peter Sarsgaard) dangling the carrot Leguizamo can't resist. The film even has the odd good sense to cast Isabella Rossellini as a matronly drug lord with acid in her veins -- one of several inspired supporting performances. It's Leguizamo, himself usually a supporting actor, who weakens under the weight of the movie, much as he did trying to carry Spike Lee's sprawling Summer of Sam. But he can't be blamed for the movie's hasty third-act collapse, which shrinks director Franc Reyes' deliberate build-up into a scant, single-scene payoff. The climactic clash between the financial world and the underworld -- a focal point of the film's ad campaign -- gets swept under the rug, and a stillborn epic whimpers to a finish at a miniscule 85 minutes.
Entertainment Weekly
Between bursts of automatic gunfire, the story offers a trenchant critique of capitalism. Bruce Fretts
Los Angeles Times
Leguizamo ... gives one of the best performances of the year in a lead role in an American movie. Kevin Thomas
San Francisco Chronicle
A gangster movie with the capacity to surprise. Mick LaSalle

Product Details

Release Date:
03/18/2003
UPC:
0025192316128
Original Release:
2002
Rating:
R
Source:
Universal Studios
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Time:
1:40:00

Special Features

Cómo se realizó "Empire"; Escenas adicionales; Estreno de "Empire" en Los Ángeles; Avance de la Banda Sonora de "Empire"; Tráiler cinematográfico en Español; Y mucho más

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Leguizamo Victor
Peter Sarsgaard Jack
Denise Richards Actor
Vincent Laresca Jimmy
Delilah Cotto Carmen
Sonia Braga Actor
Isabella Rossellini La Columbiana
Rubén Blades Actor
Rafael Baez Jay
Anthony "Treach" Criss Actor
Fat Joe Tito
Nestor Serrano Actor
Stracy Diaz Gina
Granville Adams Actor

Technical Credits
Franc. Reyes Director,Screenwriter
Steven Beer Executive Producer
Daniel Bigel Producer
Rubén Blades Score Composer
Robert B. Campbell Executive Producer
Jill Footlick Executive Producer
Peter C. Frank Editor
Ted Glass Production Designer
Evan Lamberg Executive Producer
John Leguizamo Executive Producer
Michael Mailer Producer
Kramer Morgenthau Cinematographer
Frank White Art Director

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Créditos Iniciales [2:19]
2. El Empresario [3:13]
3. Problemas [4:59]
4. Respeto [3:38]
5. Carmen [5:58]
6. Jack y Trish [4:56]
7. Una Bala en la Espalda [5:10]
8. Guerra [5:42]
9. Algo Seguro [6:12]
10. Soho [4:35]
11. El Nuevo Vic [5:50]
12. Inversionista Intelligente [3:51]
13. La Colombiana [4:08]
14. La Manera Jimmy [7:58]
15. Una Charla con Trish [3:18]
16. Jimmy Tiene Que Morir [7:53]
17. Engañado [8:03]
18. La Venganza [5:42]
19. Las Consecuencias [2:08]
20. Créditos Finales [3:30]

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Empire 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this movie John Leguizamo's character is different than say from Moulin Rouge or Ice Age. It has a lot of action and drama in it. The end is SOOOO sad. It is a great movie! If you want to see something exciting and leaving you on the edge of your seat this is definently the movie for you!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
An uneducated Puerto Rican drug lord from the Bronx is looking for a way out of the drug game so that he and his family can live a better life. In the process, an up tight white business man betrays him. This was called Carlito's Way the first time I saw it. I've got to be totally honest ... As a Puerto Rican from the Bronx, I'm tired of movies like this that support these stereotypes of our people. I'm also tired of the stereotypes these movies create for white people in this country. This movie has been done before and (I personally think) creates more problems in the long run. This holds especially true for young latinos who look at this movie as some source of inspiration.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie isn't for the viewer who has a problem watching violent, bloody action scenes. It's a realistic look inside the world of a bigtime drug dealer in the South Bronx. The soundtrack is HOT. The action is constant. There is nothing pretentious about this movie, and that's what makes it great.