7.5/10
344,160
1,187 user 237 critic

Gangs of New York (2002)

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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(story), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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544 ( 22)

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Nominated for 10 Oscars. Another 50 wins & 124 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

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Reverend Raleigh (as Alec Mccowen)
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Mr. Schermerhorn
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Jimmy Spoils (as Larry Gilliard Jr.)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

America Was Born In The Streets.

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

20 December 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pandillas de Nueva York  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,496,870, 22 December 2002, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$77,812,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$193,772,504, 28 October 2016
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Martin Scorsese was a big fan of the film O Lucky Man! (1973), and considered casting Malcolm McDowell as Amsterdam. Had Scorsese been able to make this film in 1978, he planned to cast Robert De Niro as Bill the Butcher. See more »

Goofs

When the rich people are playing snooker, the remaining balls on the table are blue, pink, and black. The blue ball didn't exist in snooker until the early part of the 20th century. See more »

Quotes

Bill: We hold in our hearts the memory of our fallen brothers whose blood stains the very streets we walk today. Also on this night we pay tribute to the leader of our enemies, an honorable man, who crossed over bravely, fighting for what he believed in. To defeat my enemy, I extinguish his life, and consume him as I consume these flames. In honor of Priest Vallon.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Miramax Films and Touchstone Pictures logos are much different and larger than the normal logos and evoke a 1930s black and white style. See more »

Connections

References The Godfather: Part II (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

Morrison's Jig/Liberty
Performed by Mariano De Simone
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The narrative and characters are weak but the general sweep and spectacle of the whole thing makes it worth a look
25 February 2006 | by See all my reviews

In the 1840's New York is a mess of gangs all fighting over small areas of turf. The main rivalry is between the immigrant Irish and those who see themselves as Natives of their New York. A battle rages between them and the leader of the Irish (Priest Vallon) falls to the blade of Bill "The Butcher" Cutting – witnessed by Vallon's young son. Sixteen years later and things are different but no better. Cutting is now the head of the Five Corners and all the gangs answer to him. It is into this situation that an unknown man called Amsterdam returns – none other than the grown son of Priest Vallon. Seeking a fitting revenge for the death of his father, Amsterdam makes sure he catches Cutting's sole eye and gradually is taken into his trust.

Despite lukewarm reviews I decided that any Scorsese film is worth a look and gave GoNY a night of my time. In terms of plotting the film is essentially a revenge drama that sees Vallon trying to get close enough to Cutting to take him out in a fashion befitting the man. You might rightly point out that such a straightforward tale does not require 180 minutes to tell but it does when the film tries to make this much more of a sprawling affair that aims to bridge the cinematic gap between the western and the gangster films while also painting a rich tapestry of characters against a rich background of 19th Century New York. However it fails to do this on several levels and the end result is a film that feels a lot baggier than it really should have done. This is best seen in the characters because none of them really develop beyond the first impressions they give, or a better example is the failure of the film to use Jenny in the critical way that she was clearly intended to be used.

Scorsese may lose his way with the story but it is easy to forgive him because he does so well with the majestic historical sweep he gives to everything else. The sets look great, the costumes look great and the dramatic flair he gives in delivery add so much. It is a real problem that he has not taken the characters and story along for the ride but I found his silver lining to be enjoyable even if his rather OTT approach did further take away from the realism of the people and the story. His approach is matched by the cast, who are mostly enjoyable despite lacking depth. DiCaprio is more than the bland pinup I had feared he would be but he can't do much more than play the "silent revenge" card from start to finish. He is overwhelmed by Day-Lewis who has great fun in a fantastically OTT role that worked much better than I expected him to. Diaz is not that good and I felt she was miscast in an attempt to get "credibility" by working with Scorsese. The support cast is roundly good and features solid turns from Neeson, Reilly, Gleeson and many others fill out a strong cast.

Overall this is an impressive film in terms of sweep and style but not in terms of story and characters – which is a bit of a problem in a film that pretty much lasts three hours. The skill of Scorsese and the presence of so many stars make it worth a look but it is hard to get past the problems in the way that the story is not as well done as it could have been, even if the general historical sweep and spectacle makes it worth taking a look at.


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