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Gangs of New York (2002)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, History  |  20 December 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 293,198 users   Metascore: 72/100
Reviews: 1,153 user | 230 critic | 39 from Metacritic.com

In 1863, Amsterdam Vallon returns to the Five Points area of New York City seeking revenge against Bill the Butcher, his father's killer.



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Nominated for 10 Oscars. Another 42 wins & 89 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Reverend Raleigh (as Alec Mccowen)
Jimmy Spoils (as Larry Gilliard Jr.)


Having seen his father killed in a major gang fight in New York, young Amsterdam Vallon is spirited away for his own safety. Some years later, he returns to the scene of his father's death, the notorious Five Points district in New York. It's 1863 and lower Manhattan is run by gangs, the most powerful of which is the Natives, headed by Bill "The Butcher" Cutting. He believes that America should belong to native-born Americans and opposes the waves of immigrants, mostly Irish, entering the city. It's also the time of the Civil War and forced conscription leads to the worst riots in US history. Amid the violence and corruption, young Vallon tries to establish himself in the area and also seek revenge over his father's death. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


America Was Born In The Streets.


Crime | Drama | History

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for intense strong violence, sexuality/nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| | |

Release Date:

20 December 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pandillas de Nueva York  »

Box Office


$97,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,049,746 (Japan) (20 December 2002)


$77,679,638 (USA) (11 April 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (original)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Cinematographer Michael Ballhaus was handed a lavish book of Rembrandt prints when he signed on to the film, and was told by Martin Scorsese that that was how he wanted the film to look like. See more »


The hammer dulcimer (string instrument old man is playing) shown just before the fight scene between Amsterdam and McGloin, is of a modern design. Instruments from the time would have been much more cumbersome in design as they would have been homemade, or built by carpenters used to working with furniture. See more »


Happy Jack: Thank ye boys. You keep out of trouble now!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Aside from the altered studio logos, there are no opening credits and title, except for the beginning of the movie saying "Miramax Films Presents". The rest of the credits and the title are at the end of the movie. The title of the film is made up of pieces of type that would have been used in the 19th Century to print newsletters, posters, and flyers like the ones seen throughout the film. See more »


Referenced in Be Kind Rewind (2008) See more »


Leaving Home
Written by Hong-Qi Zhang
Vocals by Ke-Wei Zhang
Produced and Arranged by Anxi Jiang
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Terrific Entertainment!
30 January 2003 | by (Elmira, NY) – See all my reviews

Gangs of New York is just perfect entertainment. It is an enthralling, bloody, melodramatic epic that more than justifies its two and one half hour running time. In Gangs director Martin Scorsese spins another tale of the New York underworld but with a twist. Instead of the mid-twentieth century organized crime milieu of Goodfellas, Scorsese ventures back to the 19th century to show us the origin of the modern street gang.

It's the early 1860s and the notorious Five Points slum is ruled by the savage `Bill the Butcher'. The viciously nationalistic Bill terrorizes all the immigrant masses jammed into his slum but seems to harbor a particular hatred for the Irish population. Into this seething cauldron wanders mysterious young Amsterdam Vallon who soon works his way into the trust and affection of Bloody Bill. Amsterdam, however, has a past with the unsuspecting Butcher and sports an agenda not unlike a certain Prince of Denmark. Bloody vengeance and dark betrayal soon come to pass, all played against a backdrop of corruption and unrest that lead to up to the horrors of New York Civil War draft riots.

Daniel Day-Lewis is marvelous as Bill the Butcher. His Bill is both recognizably human and a full bore, moustache-twirling villain. Day-Lewis strides his savage and profane way across the screen and steals the whole of the movie. The only other actor to approach Day-Lewis' level is Jim Broadbent as William 'Boss' Tweed. Broadbent is Tweed's spitting image and he makes the grasping old pirate so winning we find ourselves rooting for Tweed against the gaggle of reformers that infest his domain. Though Leonardo DiCaprio is the nominal lead of the picture he is overshadowed by his co-stars. Large, slope shouldered and vaguely brutish looking, DiCaprio is physically perfect for Amsterdam. While he could have used some of the fire and rage of a young James Cagney, DiCaprio's acting is superior throughout the movie. The problem is that Amsterdam just isn't as flashy a role as Bill or Tweed and, as good as DiCaprio is; Day-Lewis operates on a whole other level. Cameron Diaz as the beautiful pickpocket Jenny, never convinces that she is a product of the slums. Despite having considerable screen time, Diaz fades into the background when compared to her more powerful co-stars.

Just as important as the actors are to Gangs is the period atmosphere that drips off the screen. The amazing old New York set has an air of lived in reality that you could cut with a knife. You can almost smell the vermin. Gangs is entirely free of the embalmed feeling you get from most modern period movies. The cast handles the period argot as if it were their true speech and wear their costumes like lived-in clothing. You come away convinced that this is how the world looked and sounded in 1862.

Scorsese does eschew all nuance and subtlety in Gangs. Instead he tells his tale in wide, bold, exploitive and melodramatic strokes that make the movies two and a half hours fly by. Be warned that if you are waiting to see Gangs on DVD you are making a huge mistake. Gangs has to be seen at the theater. The detail and scope of the film cries out to be viewed in all its wide screen glory. This movie is a fantastic achievement.

156 of 205 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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