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American Me (1992)

 -  Biography | Crime | Drama  -  13 March 1992 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 4,676 users   Metascore: 66/100
Reviews: 42 user | 16 critic | 11 from Metacritic.com

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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(story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Pedro Santana
Vira Montes ...
Esperanza Santana
Roberto Martín Márquez ...
Acha (as Robert Martin Marquez)
...
Yolanda
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 ...
Abuelito
...
Young JD
...
Young Mundo
Edit

Storyline

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 <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 March 1992 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

American Me  »

Box Office

Budget:

$16,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$13,086,430 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

Montoya Santana: I hear Little Puppet's name is on a piece of paper, ese.
J.D.: I want you to cosign it.
Montoya Santana: I'm taking it off, ese.
J.D.: That punk got you kicked back in the hole, set us all back. Now he's running around talking loud shit about how he wants out of La Eme. His number's up, homes.
Montoya Santana: I said I'm taking it off, ese.
J.D.: What's gonna happen is gonna happen. Don't try to stop it. You understand me? I'm asking you, carnal.
Montoya Santana: Is that where it's gotten to, ese?
J.D.: Brothers are talking about you.
Montoya Santana: What are they saying, ese?
J.D.: ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cleveland Show: Hot Cocoa Bang Bang (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Tierra Bravia
Written by José Alfredo Jiménez (as Jose Alfredo Jiminez)
Performed by Mariachi Soul de Mexico
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Excellent directorial debut from Edward James Olmos.

American Me (1992) was the directing debut of long time character actor Edward James Olmos. This film is a historical fiction depiction of the rise of La Emme, The Mexican Mafia. The movie follows the lives of three street gang members who by a sad twist of fate end up in Juvenille Hall. From there they graduate to the big time. Folsom Prison. Inside the walls of Folsom, the three form the most powerful gang inside the California Penal System.

Olmos turns the story into a Shakespherian tragedy. A story about a dangerous cycle that repeats over and over within certain communities and how the lack of education can be dangerous. Like they say, an idle mind is the devil's playground. Many of these characters had too much "idle time" before they hit rock bottom. Olmos' direction, editing and use of lighting is that of a long time film-maker. The cinematography complements his directorial style. He makes these figures into noble persons who live and die by a code forged from blood, shanks and sweat. Great stuff from Mr. Olmos, a true masterpiece from a first time director.

Sadly, Mr. Olmos has took a lot of flack for this film and has made some powerful people very angry. If I were him I would have taken a safer route and gave the prison gangs some fake names and cut all ties to any "Technical Support" but that's not his style. He should be commended for his efforts because others wouldn't have the courage or conviction to do this. Mr. Olmos doesn't glamorize the lifestyle either. Although they're men of honor amongst themselves I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. But what people have to do to stay alive in prison should not be looked down upon and on the other hand, when one's on the outside they should leave what they learned within the prison walls. Because it's a whole different ball game out here.

Highly recommended.


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