Twenty-something Richard travels to Thailand and finds himself in possession of a strange map. Rumours state that it leads to a solitary beach paradise, a tropical bliss - excited and intrigued, he sets out to find it.
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
Daniel Day-Lewis elevates this film from just "good" to "very good" or even "excellent." He is absolutely riveting, one of the most interesting "villains" I have ever seen on film. I am sorry Day-Lewis didn't win the Academy Award for his performance. He was just outstanding to watch. His facial expressions alone cracked me up!
Day-Lewis played "Bill 'The Butcher' Cutting" he is one nasty dude. However, there are no real "good guys" in this story. The supposed hero, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is a revenge-seeking man with a ton of flaws himself. The rest of the characters are either thieves, gang members, corrupt politicians or corrupt policeman. Ah yes, another family-oriented film from that kindly director Martin Scorcese.
What Scorcese lacks in family values, he comes close to making up for in style. This is another fascinating visual film with great sets, costumes, color and camera-work. Other typical Scorcese touches are in here: Catholic-bashing and brutal language. (I question whether the f-word was used back in the days this film takes place.)
All in all, a tough film that could be too unpleasant to watch but for Lewis' outstanding performance and the spectacular visuals.
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