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Cinema Junkie by Beth Accomando

American Gangster

Ridley Scott directs Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington in American Gangster (Universal)

Director Ridley Scott and actor Russell Crowe teamed for the Oscar-winning Gladiator and they may go for gold again with American Gangster (opening Nov. 2 throughout San Diego). At least that's what Universal is hoping for. The film is based on the true story of a Harlem heroin dealer named Frank Lucas who flew under everyone's radar because no one could believe that an African American mobster could be bigger than a Mafia don.

Denzel Washington has carved out a niche for himself playing smart, often honorable men from Steven Biko in Cry Freedom to the slave soldier in Glory to Malcolm X . So with such an admirable gallery of characters, it was something of a treat to see him go bad with his performance as a corrupt cop in Training Day . American Gangster affords something of a similar thrill as Washington takes on the role of Frank Lucas. Crowe, on the other hand, takes on the less flashy role of Richie Roberts, a honest cop surrounded by corruption who embarks on a long journey to arrest and prosecute Lucas.

Craig Hawkins I
November 22, 2007 at 01:50 AM
Everyone is praising American Gangster, but I have yet to hear about the criticism of the racial injustice of this movie. I agree that American Gangster was a good movie & Denzel did an excellent job portraying Frank Lucas. First of all I want to say that I do not condone any violence or criminal activity. BUT How can a white police officer whose duty is to execute justice, relentlessly hunt & bring down a black criminal when his bestfriends are also criminals, but he does not bring his white friends to justice?! -----

Beth Accomando
November 26, 2007 at 05:30 PM
Craig, Although I don't dispute the idea of racial injustice in the film, I do want to point out that Crowe's character ultimately does work with Washington's Lucas to put away corrupt white cops. He never tries to prosecute or arrest his old partner but he does go after crooked white cops when he can finally get evidence.

Sheldon Walters
January 05, 2008 at 06:20 PM
I agree that in this film, the end is good just to prove that the corrupt white cops are the real perpetrators and a waste of taxpayers dollars. I am however appauled by the negative depiction of black people in this film. Not to mention how many of our black youths in North America want to live that sourt of high life as depicted in Hip-Hop culture. Even Bill Cosby would be disgusted. I watched this film in a Korea theatre, I was the only black person in this theatre watching American Gangster. The negative portrayal of a black man destroying his own community is what compelled me to use the "N" word for two reasons. One was because I have no respect for a black man who does harm to people, and secondly, I used the "N" word in front of Koreans for the first time to challenge the Korean audience to see how smart these Koreans are, in relation to how they percieve black people. Because the truth is, Koreans are a very ethnocentric people. It is so disturbing to see how Hollywood can depict black people shooting up on crack/cocaine and the world gets entertained by it, but at the same time you don't see white people doing that on film, neither Asian people. Even Koreans would never have their characters depicpted using drugs. Why? It's simple, because whites and Asians (including Koreans) want to make such innocent images of themselves to make the world think that they are superior and that blacks are inferior and good for nothin but doing drugs and being pimps and gangsters. So yes I can say that I have challenged Koreans to prove that most of them are racist because of ethnocentricim. They are just as bad as most white people in North America. A movie like American Gangster is one that proves this, if that is how America wants to treat black people, the USA has absolutely no damn right to exist! Guess what? Even as I work as an ESL teacher in Korea no Korean who watches American Gangster would ever want to give their Korean daughter's hand to a black man.