6.0/10
6,894
65 user 54 critic

Empire (2002)

A successful South Bronx drug dealer turns his back on his roots and gives money to a Wall Street broker to invest for him.

Director:

Franc. Reyes

Writer:

Franc. Reyes

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From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Leguizamo ... Victor Rosa
Peter Sarsgaard ... Jack
Denise Richards ... Trish
Vincent Laresca ... Jimmy
Isabella Rossellini ... La Colombiana
Sônia Braga ... Iris (as Sonia Braga)
Delilah Cotto ... Carmen
Nestor Serrano ... Rafael Menendez
Anthony 'Treach' Criss ... Chedda (as Treach)
Rafael Báez Rafael Báez ... Jay
Fat Joe ... Tito Severe (as Fat Joe 'Joseph Cartagena')
Carlos Leon ... Hector
Felix Solis ... Jose
Omar Pastran Omar Pastran ... Jason
Rob B. Campbell Rob B. Campbell ... Det. O'Brien
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Storyline

A big time drug dealer Victor Rosa is looking to get out of the game and sees his chance with a big deal and a new friend who happens to be a Wall St. stockbroker. Thinking this will be his chance to go out on top, Victor soon finds out that he has been double crossed and his last option is to get revenge. Written by El Toro

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Two worlds collide.

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, drug content and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

6 December 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Империя See more »

Filming Locations:

Miami, Florida, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,281,415, 8 December 2002, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$17,504,595, 26 January 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Leguizamo and Nestor Serrano previously worked together 11 years prior in Hangin' with the Homeboys (1991). See more »

Goofs

When Trish is shot and falls on the bed, the gun she was holding is next to her right hand. In the next shot, it is on the left side. See more »

Quotes

Jack: What do you do?
Victor Rosa: [Admiring Jack's luxurious apartment] Obviously whatever it is I do, I'm not doing enough of it, that's for damn sure!
Jack: Yeah?
Victor Rosa: But basically I'm self-employed.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Scary Movie 3 (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Slow Down
Written by India Arie, Shannon Sanders and Ricardo Quiñones
Performed by India Arie
Courtesy of Motown Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Definitely not as bad as people say it is
28 April 2003 | by mattymatt4everSee all my reviews

Despite its poor box office performance and multitude of bad reviews from major critics, I found the movie to be quite good. John Leguizamo gives a powerful performance, exhibiting that same dramatic power he did in Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam." This is writer/director Franc Reyes' first film, and it's no masterpiece, but he definitely shows signs of talent. Not to mention the film was made on a low budget, yet it's just as effective, if not more, than urban gangster movies twice its budget. The film is flashy, but not too flashy. There is one shot, inspired by John Woo, in which Fat Joe flips a shotgun up in the air and it's played in slow-motion. Moments like that have their charm, "moment" being the key word. Too many scenes like that and you've got yourself the stereotypical, hare-brained, MTV music video disguising as a motion picture ala "Charlie's Angels." Reyes used an interesting lighting technique, making the ghetto scenes appear more golden and the uptown scenes a darker, blue-ish color. In most movies of this type, the ghetto scenes would be much more darkly lit, but Reyes wanted to break from the mold.

The story is predictable, except for one moment at the very end, but at the same time it's inspired and realistic. There are a few contrived, you-asked-for-it moments like Leguizamo's girlfriend catching him cheating on her with Denise Richards, but I didn't make a big fuss out of them. Reyes himself grew up in the South Bronx, so some of the scenes and characters are inspired from his childhood, and that inspiration really shows. Also, I always condone films with predominantly Latin-American casts, whether they're good or bad, because Hispanics are still very much snubbed in the world of media. So this is a film from a real Latin-American perspective, and not the perspective of a white man who did some research on their barrios and starring white actors with cheesy Latin accents (i.e.: Al Pacino in "Scarface").

Even though I'm all for minorities getting their art out there, that doesn't mean they have to diss the majorities. What I wasn't too thrilled about was the way the white characters were written. They're portrayed as the usual stuck-up, Armani-wearing fools they are in most films with a cast predominantly consisting of minorities. The climax involves the Peter Skarsgard character yelling out a racial slur. That seemed like a cheap device to elicit huge reactions from the young Hispanics in the audience. And the Denise Richards character is a ditsy floozie. What else is new? However, I've seen worse Caucasian stereotypes in African-American films. At least in this case, the whites weren't complete objects of ridicule.

The only member of the cast who I felt was out of place was Isabella Rossellini, who for some reason just seems like she walked onto the wrong movie set and never seems comfortable with her role. But the rest of the cast is superb. God knows I don't condone rappers venturing into acting, as a general rule, but the rappers who are in the film (Fat Joe and Treach from Naughty By Nature) are effective in their small roles, the key word being "small." If they had more major roles, my opinion would probably be a lot more negative.

"Empire" is a good, solid, well-acted, entertaining, action-packed joyride with great elements of truth. In a way, it's like an inner-city film noir.

My score: 7 (out of 10)


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