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American Me (1992)

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  13 March 1992 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 5,489 users   Metascore: 66/100
Reviews: 45 user | 17 critic | 11 from

A Mexican-American Mafia kingpin is released from prison, falls in love for the first time, and grows introspective about his gangster lifestyle.



(story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pedro Santana
Vira Montes ...
Esperanza Santana
Roberto Martín Márquez ...
Acha (as Robert Martin Marquez)
Joe Aubel ...
Tattoo Artist
Rob Garrett ...
Zoot Riot Bystander
Young Sailor
Cody Glenn ...
Older Sailor
Police Officer
Panchito Gómez ...
Young Montoya Santana (as Panchito Gomez)
Albert Joe Medina Jr. ...
Street Mechanic
Alex Solís ...
Street Mechanic (as Alex Solis)
Raymond Amezquita ...
Young JD
Young Mundo


This epic depiction of thirty years of Chicano gang life in Los Angeles focuses on a teen named Santana who, with his friends Mundo and the Caucasian-but-acting-Hispanic J.D., form their own gang and are soon arrested for a break-in. Santana gets into trouble again and goes straight from reform school to prison, spending eighteen year there, and becoming leader of a powerful gang, both inside and outside the prison, while there. When he is finally released, he tries to make sense of the violence in his life, in a world much changed from when last he was in it. Written by Gary Dickerson <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In prison they are the law. On the streets they are the power.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence and sensuality, and for language and drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 March 1992 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sans rémission  »

Box Office


$16,000,000 (estimated)


$13,086,430 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The characters of Santana (Olmos), J.D. (Forsythe) and Mundo (Serna) are based on real-life Mexican Mafia leaders Rudy "Cheyenne" Cadena, Joe "Pegleg" Morgan and Roberto "Robot" Salas. See more »


When the Mexican inmates are walking up with the mop and bucket to assassinate the African-American inmate, it shows the African-American inmate laying in just a t-shirt on his bed and in the next scene after hes caught on fire he's wearing his long sleeve button up. See more »


Montoya Santana: You want to know something? I never been to the beach before.
Julie: For reals?
Montoya Santana: Yeah, for reals.
See more »


Spoofed in Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) See more »


Dedicated to You
Written by Egnoian and Morgan
Performed by Sonny Knight
Courtesy of Starla Records
by arrangement with Original Sound Entertainment/Celebrity Licensing Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

American Me. Thumbs up!
25 March 2005 | by (United Kingdom. Scotland. Edinburgh) – See all my reviews

I seen this film when it first came out, back in 92 on VHS. The film stuck in my mind since-there have not been many films like it to date.

Edward James Olmos is magnificent as actor and director. You may not have seen him in many films but he does have a quality about him that casts him perfectly in the principal role of gang leader / drug cartel.

If you like prison films this is one of the best. It hasn't got too many clichés and avoids being overtly pretentious.

William Forsythe is great as Edward James Olmos's buddy and as he-Forsythe-usually does when acting (doesn't try to overact or steal any scenes) he just does the business and blends in as his character engrossing you into the film giving it a more realistic depiction of the setting.

Many prison films usually fit the same formula, showing you the in's and out's, morals and stereotypes usually associated with prison films. American ME just gets right into it and takes you along without preaching those usual morals and overdone cliché characters. This film is on a par with BLOOD IN BLOOD OUT. Check it out!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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