47 user 19 critic

American Me (1992)

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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1 nomination. See more awards »



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Director: Edward James Olmos
Stars: Edward James Olmos


Cast overview, first billed only:
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 ...


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 years 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


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)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,378,100, 15 March 1992, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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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 lying in just a t-shirt on his bed. In the next scene, after he's caught on fire, he's wearing his long sleeve button up. See more »


Montoya Santana: I'm sorry to hear about Neto.
Julie: I don't know what to say to you.
Montoya Santana: Whatever, you know.
Julie: You're like two people. One is like a kid. Doesn't know how to dance, doesn't know how to make love. That's the one I cared about. But the other one, the other one I hate. The one who knows, the one who has this wrapdown, who knows how to run drugs, who kills people!
Montoya Santana: I don't have to listen to this shit, alright? If you were a man, I'd...
Julie: You'd kill me! Oh no. No, you'd fuck me in the ass, right? Right?
Montoya Santana: I guess we...
See more »


Featured in Lives in Hazard (1994) See more »


Corazon Corazon
Written by José Alfredo Jiménez (as Jose Alfredo Jiminez)
Performed by Mariachi Soul de Mexico
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

1 August 2002 | by See all my reviews

This is a stunning, disturbing, brutal tale of prison life within the California prison system, and the Mexican gangs. This movie portrays very well how ugly, and destructive, this world and this life is.

Well-acted by Edward James Olmos and William Forsythe. Character portrayals are done very well, and you almost wish these guys would come to their senses and turn away from this life. But, deep down, you know this is impossible. Emotionally disturbing portrayal of how Santana's parents horrible humiliation could literally ring down through the years, and sadly affect generations, literally blowing up this family for decades to come. A poignant message as to how the racist past of this country could have such devastating consequences. But, that's just an aside.

Well-done, thoughtful portrayal of both the tight brotherhood these guys were capable of sharing, contrasted with the utterly brutal and vicious methods used to keep order, and to settle scores.

A movie which attempts to show us the varying forces and pressures, and the twisted logic, which make a situation like this possible.

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