American Me (1992)

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  13 March 1992 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 5,551 users   Metascore: 66/100
Reviews: 45 user | 18 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.



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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?


Rudy "Cheyenne" Cadena was not killed by his own gang as shown in the movie. In reality, he was killed by the Nuestra Familia, the rivals of the Mexican Mafia. As a result of this murder, the Mexican Mafia formed an alliance with the Aryan Brotherhood in 1972, and the Nuestra Familia formed an alliance with the Black Guerilla Family. 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 »


Dornan: What I'd like to do now is to interview each of you individually. Who wants to go first?
Montoya Santana: Corky.
Dornan: Corky.
Puppet: Santana, how was the bus ride home?
Montoya Santana: Sunshine felt good.
Puppet: This is my brother, ese. They call him, Little Puppet. He's a genious, homes.
Mundo: Hey, don't get carried away.
Puppet: He does the placas in East L.A. Check it out.
[Shows a tatoo with naked babe]
Mundo: Nice tits.
See more »


References Quiet Please: Murder (1942) See more »


Oye Como Va
Written by Tito Puente
Performed by Santana
Courtesy of Columbia Records
by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Intense Disturbing and Underrated Film
24 November 2005 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

"American Me" is arguably the most significant film not discussed in the same breath with crime epics such as "The Godfather." It was clearly made, both consciously and perhaps subconsciously to be the Mexican Godfather film and that is hardly a bad thing. Its honesty regarding the emotional costs of violence and murder are on par with that film. I don't know what to say to anyone who critiques Edward James Olmos. First, this actor's capacity to convey a complicated range of emotions without words is absolutely staggering and has been seen to great effect in many great films including "Blade Runner." Additionally, he is inarguably the premiere Latino / Chicano filmmaker and actor of all time. If you look at the films he has been involved with, think about how they have dominated the way Hispanic people, Mexicans in particular, have been seen by others who would, largely, not even know of the experiences of their neighbors. "American Me" is so unflinching that, after seeing it, I had to see it again to believe it was actually made by or released by a major studio. Once upon a time studio films featured honest portraits of life but rarely any more. "American Me" tho hardly the knee-slapping comedy some reviewer wanted or expected, conveys an honest sense of the life lived by many without the hope of education or prosperity but with the same need for respect and something bigger than themselves to believe in that you or anyone else has and lives their life by. If you want to see a life perhaps very different than yours depicted with uncommon honesty, watch this film.

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