Empire (2002) Poster

(2002)

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6/10
Violent and exciting movie about drug dealers
ma-cortes6 June 2005
The picture talks upon a dealer (John Leguizamo) with a lot of success on south Bronx who loved for his girlfriend (Dalilah Cotto) develops an economic relation with a Wall Street yuppie financier (Peter Saasgard) and his fiancée (Denise Richards).

In the motion picture , shot in 22 days , there are tension , a love story , thriller , emotion , intrigue and a little bit of violence . The movie is fast moving and is enough amusing but happens many events . The pic obtained moderated success and didn't attain the box office that the producers wanted . The suspense movie is correctly narrated but there're some storyline gaps and the twisted plot makes it a few ridiculous . The film is classified ¨R¨ for violence and some sex and isn't apt for little boys , being for + 18 years' viewers . John Leguizano's fine interpretation as a drug dealer who becomes involved dark issues , he is good but plays as Latin stereotypes . Director Franc Reyes originally wanted John Leguizamo to play Jimmy , he liked the part of Victor so much that he got the filmmaker to give him that part . Leguizamo used his star power to help bring bigger names to the project . Dalilah Cotto and Denise Richards are attractive and enjoyable and Peter Saasgard as a hotshot business manager is magnificent . Isabella Rossellini as a Colombian drug lord is miscast and the veteran Sonia Braga hands a role very secondary as the starring's mother . The musical score by also actor Ruben Blades is nice and the movie is rightly directed by Fran Reyes .
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8/10
Excellent gangster flick - John Leguizamo shines!!
Robert Clarke7 April 2004
A little gem of a gangster film. Not totally original, it could be seen as a homage to many of its predecessors, yet it delivers and keeps you interested right until the very end.

John Leguizamo plays local drug dealer Victor Rosa who sees the opportunity yo "branch out" into other areas and let his drug money work for him in the stock market when he meets, through his girlfriend, a up and coming wall street executive. Problem is that he finds it harder and harder to move away from his dangerous life on the streets, and still ends up having to deal with his crew of trigger happy homeboys, rival drug dealers and drug kingpins - which turns out to be a hell of a lot harder than before.

Leguizamo is brilliant in the lead role and has good support from the likes of Peter Sarsgaard, as his new wall street chum, and Vincent Laresca as his best friend from childhood. Its also good to see old stagers Isabella Rossellini and Sonia Braga again.

Denise Richards (not really having to act here, which suits her fine) and unknown Delilah Cotto are good eye candy, and do well as the sexy female leads.

An A for effort to all involved.
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Good. Worth any gangster flick-loving movie fan's time.
Meltdown530985331 May 2003
Empire stars John Leguizamo in a fairly decent role this time, as Victor Rosa. He is a drug dealer who is living life at a good pace. But as sucessful as his buisness is, he finds that he should get out while he still can and settle down. He sees his chance as he meets a wall street stock broker named Jack. He has a propasition for Victor that involves millions of dollars in which Victor needs to borrow from his drug dealing allies. It soon turns out that Victor is screwed out of the deal and Jack has made off with the money! Victor soon discovers he has no choice but to seek out Jack and have his revenge. What starts out with all the characteristics of a flop movie soon turns into something interesting. Leguizamo portrays Victor well, with smarts, feelings and charisma. It's not the greatest gangster flick out there (say Goodfellas blows it out of the whole movie making buisness) but this is surely worth a look. Empire provides insites into the crime world and keeps interest for a lot of the time (except the flat beginning). There are sometimes surprises that you wouldn't expect, good gun fights, and the ending is really something else. Overall not bad, do not judge the cover by all the bad things everyone says about it. Give it a shot! you may be surprised. 7.0/10
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7/10
Definitely not as bad as people say it is
mattymatt4ever28 April 2003
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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Watch it only for Leguizamo...or Skip it!
Chrysanthepop20 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
'Empire' is a film that had a lot of potential but due to the bad writing, several plot holes and weak direction, the film fails. I mean, is Victor Rosa really that stupid to not put anything on paper when making a business agreement with a stranger, which involves so much money? Was Jack really stupid enough to give his mother's telephone number to Victor and to continue using the same name? The ending (well, most of the film actually) is downright predictable.

John Leguizamo tries his best to bring out the main character but it suffers due to the bad writing. His voice-over starts well but as the film proceeds towards the end, the monologues/dialogues get worse. The actor is no doubt talented and one couldn't have done more with such a role. Yet, his acting shines in several scenes. Newcomer Cotto does well even though she merely plays the 'typical' girlfriend who's against his 'job'. Sarsgaard and Rosselini (miscast) are wasted and Richards adds some comic relief. The characters of the Caucasians were very much caricatures.

On the whole, it still wasn't a completely terrible flick. Just one that could have been way better. For me, it was John Leguizamo's acting that made it worth the watch.
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7/10
The rise and fall of Victor Rosa
jotix1006 August 2004
Just caught up with this film on cable. I never saw it when it was released, and frankly, it was my loss. Franc. Reyes has directed a surprising first feature that has a glossy noirish look. It speaks volumes for a new director to have a style that's easy on the eye as well as for the mind.

John Leguizamo is a huge talent. I have seen him on stage in almost all of his solo presentations and can tell anyone that this man is a dynamo. He never stops surprising; he has a range that few others have and he uses it to his advantage. Mr. Leguizamo's Victor makes a deep impression. We never let our eyes leave Victor for a moment; this man is the product of the streets, but he proves to have a mind of his own and a sophistication that are not easy to match.

The idea of casting Peter Sargaard as Jack was pure genius. This actor is about one of the best working in films at the moment. In the movie he is the suave Jack who has a hidden agenda. Mr. Sargaard perfectly balances the action. His character is the product of the best schools. Victor is impressed because Jack accepts him from the beginning without apparent reservations or prejudice.

The problem with the film is that we know how it's going to end, and we weren't wrong. It was predictable, but the director and the two principals made the film a joy to watch.

The rest of the cast was fine, especially Denise Richards, a beautiful Delilah Cotto, who can give JayLo a lot of competition in the looks department, and Isabella Rosellini, who is perfect as La Colombiana with her big hair and furs.
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6/10
Just so much recycled hash
George Parker26 April 2003
"Empire" is all about a streetwise drug dealer (Leguizamo) in South Bronx, NY who self-narrates his take on how to work your way out of the ghetto and go legit. A slick shoot with a bunch of trite recycled street crime and gangland snippets pieced together for a screenplay, this predictable and contrived flick never really gets where it's trying to go. Chock full of plot holes and nonsequiturs, the auteur asks us to care enough about a thug, murderer, and drug pusher to sit through 1.5 hours of all-sizzle-but-no-steak nonsense about his life. A so-so no brainer action/drama for Leguizamo fans and crime buffs only. (C+)
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6/10
A latino NYC drug world with one large twist...not bad, not great
secondtake15 December 2014
Empire (2002)

Not knowing much about the drug world, or about the Latino drug world in Brooklyn in particular, I was fascinating on the basic level of curiosity. And some amazement, I suppose.

This isn't a badly made movie. The leading actor, John Leguizamo, is subtle enough as Victor Rosa and has an inner core of decency to keep you identified enough to watch. The plot needs that because there's a lot of the well worn drug violence to wear you out. There is also, however, a second plot element that you don't quite expect—Rosa finds an opportunity to invest his drug earnings into high yield stock deals through a very non- Latino Wall Street man.

So there is a big twist or two to come, and this really makes the movie more of a fictional bit of creativity. Written and directed by Franc Reyes, "Empire" is about all kinds of rivalries. It's also wants to be about love and is thin there. You wish he had taken the slightly different tack the script offered him and tilted away from the shooting and strutting (lots of cocks hanging out here) and more into the minds and hearts of these people, who start to become real for us.

No such luck. Somehow they managed to get Isabella Rossellini in for a small but good part—if you're a fan you'll enjoy that. And Leguizamo adds some tenderness (real or not) to larger scene. And location shooting, frankly, is really nice, showing not the usual sides of New York (or LA) and not the romanticized ethnic neighborhoods (like the Italian or Jewish sections of old), but the regular, rough-edged reality of Brooklyn now. Or at least in 2002. Things keep changing down there really fast.

I don't recommend or not this movie—it's purely about whether you like this kind of world and want to get immersed in it. Nothing really special happens, but it's got a steady interest that might keep you going.
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Shiftless filmmaking spoils worthy storyline in "Empire"
SwingBatta1 August 2003
There's probably no point in discussing the plot of "Empire," since the whole movie is all but divulged in the trailers, but it's not in my best interest to leave people in the dark. Victor Rosa (John Leguizamo, also providing voice-over narration) is a South Bronx drug dealer who wants to get out of the business and lead a normal life with his pregnant girlfriend (Delilah Cotto), who is expecting their first child. Victor believes Wall Street investment banker Jack Wimmer (Peter Sarsgaard) is his lifeline to quick – and legal – financial freedom. It's not long before his alliance with Wimmer begins to alienate relationships with his friends and partners, which in turn yields serious consequences. This solid storyline is lost in the abyss of director Franc. Reyes' world of near-pitch black sets, endless gunplay, flat dialogue that's composed mainly of colorful metaphors, and rappers playing trigger-happy drug dealers (in this case, Treach and Fat Joe; at least they're a major improvement over stiffs like Ja Rule and DMX). The third act collapses under the weight of its predictability; a field guide and binoculars won't be needed to spot twists that can be seen from a country mile away. Denise Richards pops up in the egregious role of Wimmer's sexpot girlfriend, but don't let that deter you from seeing an otherwise fairly entertaining movie. It's difficult to argue, though, that Leguizamo's talents were better put to use in "Ice Age." 7/10
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8/10
Great film for a small budget.
Nick Damian15 January 2004
I think that this is a great film for a small budget. I don't think that this is any groundbreaking script, but for a cast of semi big names and a budget of only 3 million and something, this film was great.

It had the elements to make the story without explosives, special effects and still be interesting. Sure, it could've been a stronger script, but I think that it was well delivered for the budget and the marketing that it had, which was almost none.

I've seen many movies with a bigger budget and a far far far far horrible script and lots of marketing.

Congrats to the staff and entire crew of Empire. I was overall pleased with the product.
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4/10
trying to be hard
SnoopyStyle5 November 2016
Victor Rosa (John Leguizamo) is a drug dealer in the South Bronx. He's made a lot of money with his crew Jimmy, Chedda, and Jay. He calls his area and his product Empire. He gets into a feud with a neighboring rival. His girlfriend Carmen goes to college with Trish (Denise Richards) who introduces them to her Wall Street banker boyfriend Jack (Peter Sarsgaard). Jack offers Victor an investment opportunity which requires him to get a loan from his drug source La Colombiana (Isabella Rossellini).

Leguizamo is trying to be hard and he's trying too hard. The narration tries to be hard-boiled. There is a lot of trying but a lot less succeeding. Writer/director Franc. Reyes is trying to mimic better gangster movies. There are ways to make this work but Reyes doesn't have it at this point.
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Rise and Fall
Jason Daniel Baker11 August 2012
A South Bronx drug dealer (Leguizamo) with an uncommon sense of honor and professionalism longs for a better life and thinks he has found his way into mainstream respectability when he meets slick and duplicitous Wall Street investment banker Jack Wimmer (Sarsgaard in an uncharacteristically one-dimensional performance). Things go well at first and he believes he has left his old life behind for good but then disaster strikes.

Written and directed by Franc Reyes this was a star vehicle for non-star John Leguizamo who also co-produced. Its pretensions are toward being a modern version of a 1930's Warner Brothers gangster picture with the Shakespearian rise and fall of a strong-willed character. Instead it falls flat with a preposterous premise and stereotypical shoot-em up elements.

This is a thoroughly amateurish production right down to the casting of the extras and one wonders why solid actors like Sarsgaard, Rosellini, Serrano and Braga would have let themselves get talked into doing something like this.

Reyes may have thought he was being clever by giving roles to people that aren't really actors but the result is a mess filled with awful performances that only picks up energy at the end (by which time most of the amateur actors' characters have been killed off).
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Don't watch the trailer...
Pablo Picassimo4 June 2003
Here's a prime example of why trailers shouldn't be watched. In the case of the Empire, we see exactly what transpires in the movie. Having to watch the movie today and the trailer nearly a year ago, I still can remember what the basic plot of the movie was.

In either case, the first 80% of the movie is relatively entertaining, with the movie showing us the life of a dealer. But once we switch to the last 1/5 of the movie, everything you saw in the preview was inevitably going to happen in probably less than 15-minutes.

Entertaining, but predictable because of the trailer... 6/10.
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6/10
The Lack Of Money Is The Root Of All Evil.
Robert J. Maxwell12 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Well, as Dorothy Parker said, "If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to." Leguizamo is a major doper in the barrio who leads one gang among several rival gangs. He's unlettered, clever without being particularly smart. He dresses like everyone else in his Bronx neighborhood, like a gangsta. He has troubles of course, confronting rivals and the rest of the "Public Enemy" and "Little Caesar" business, but he's pretty happy living with his girl friend, Delilah Cotto, who is no glamorized Hollywood beauty but who has a great derrière and whom he impregnates, bringing joy to both their lives.

But those lives are pretty crummy and the responsibilities demanding. Lequizamo has stashed away a lot of money in various places but all he has to do is start spending it and the brutal cops, the ones keeping an eye on him, will have him in the Crowbar Hotel before he can say writ of replevin or amicus curiae or cui bono? Then, through a marginal friend, he meets the suave young Peter Sarsgaard at a fabulous party, the kind where guests wear suits -- as opposed to Leguizamo's leather and jeans -- and when they shed those suits they step daintily naked into the Olympic-sized Jacuzzi and eat whipped cream from each others' bodies.

Wow. Leguizamo would sure like a bite of that life style and in fact Sarsgaard's innocent face belies a certain moral terpitude. He's not above a little fast illegal money. He's an investment broker at a bank and claims a great deal of money can be made by insider trading and whatnot. "If you just want to get your feet wet, you could start with a million." And in fact Leguizamo does exactly that and doubles his money. Then Sarsgaard reveals that he has an absolutely sure thing but it requires a minimum of four million, most of which Leguizamo has to borrow.

Sarsgaard warns him not to rush into things. Leguizamo should have taken his advice. By this time he's moved up in the world and occupies one of those sparse and extremely expensive apartments on either the upper West side or the upper East side. (I get them mixed up.) He neglects his old friends from the neighborhood. They're puzzled and hurt. His girl friend splits. Leguizamo gets mixed up with La Colombiana, Isabella Rossellini, in a hair do like a monk's cowl. She was my supporting player in Lynch's "Blue Velvet" and has aged beautifully in the intervening years, although not nearly as beautifully as I have.

Anyone familiar with the genre will find it a familiar example of the genre. I refer you not just to "Scarface" and the earlier gangster movies. (This one has the fustian Leguizamo being fitted with an Armani suit, just as Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney were fitted with tuxedos.) The structure resembles any of Martin Scorcese's mob movies. Leguizamo's narration tells us how things work as the plot unfolds.

Things don't work out well for Leguizamo. The reason they don't work out well is that he's betrayed his class. He doesn't turn into an aesthete like Dorian Gray and collect Nuremberg Eggs or anything. He just neglects his compañeros. In the Bronx you know who you can trust and who you can't. In Sarsgaard's world, you don't, because everything looks so placid. And to trust someone like Sarsgaard just because he seems to be extraordinarily rich and his face is so seductively believable and confident, is an error of gross proportions.

Leguizamo is pretty good with his nervous, pinched face. Sarsgaard is at least as good as a well-dressed smoothie. Denise Richard exudes oestrus. Delilah Cotto is great simply because she's not a high-fashion mannequin but rather a young woman capable of passion and love, and attractive enough to garner glances in a supermarket.

There's a lot of action. Too much of it is weak and derivative. Deaths and exploding bottles in slow motion. Even an AK-47 FIRING in slow motion. Queer wide-angle lenses that can turn some scenes into a Miramax presentation. That's pretty hoary stuff and the director would have been better off letting the colorful and powerful story carry itself in classic fashion.
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8/10
Quite surprised, pleasantly surprised
rileyc832 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I was very happy after watching the entire movie. When it was first starting I thought that it was going to be a typical, bloody, wannabe gangster film. But as the scenes kept passing Leguizamo's character just kept getting better and better. To watch him go from the man running the show, and getting everything he wants in the South Bronx, to basically being Jack's little you know what was quite the performance. It really was a nice drama movie and one that I would actually watch more than once. It was also nice to see a movie that you could tell the director had some personal experience in what was taking place because when you would hear the voice over's from Leguizamo you felt as though that really was him as the character, and really was him who lived that life. To me that has to mean there was some personal experiences mixed into this dialogue. I recommend to anyone to watch this movie and make sure you give it a chance. Don't give up in the first 15 minutes.
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7/10
Not Bad.
cedrickroberts6 August 2004
The reviews for this movie were not great, but I saw this movie and liked it. That is the problem with some professional movie critics. For them a movie is not a rewarding experience unless it is a truly original idea that is artsy and different. For me, and many of my friends, I want to eat popcorn and be entertained. I tend to ask myself key questions; was the plot interesting?, did I fall asleep during the movie?, what did I think of the acting and the actors?. how did the movie look(locations, how was it shot/filmed)?. If the answer to these questions is atleast marginally favorable, chances are I liked the movie. It's only when I begin to compare the movie to its' brethren or other movies of the same ilk that my opinion deviates from average to above average. No film that I reluctantly admit I marginally enjoyed would receive a below average rating. This is not the greatest film of all time, and its' filled with cliches and predictable plot twists, however it I did enjoy it; and the beautiful Ms. Delilah Cotto.
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5/10
worst soundtrack ever!!!!!!!!!!!
babern9 June 2003
Hi enjoyed this movie for the most part. It wasn't the best, but it had something going for it underneath its predictable skin, notably the acting. I thought lequizamo was a great cast for the part. The biggest complaint i have for this movie is that its soundtrack was the worst ever. I felt a more street type music i.e. rap should have been employed, but there was nothing but slow, mellow, music. 6/10.
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Nothing Special
GaelinWade16 May 2003
Again, I'll have to agree with the critics on this one. EMPIRE has the right idea and it starts off well, but it never follows through.

The movie is slow-moving in some places, but rushed in most others. The characters are pretty well developed, but they aren't allowed to live up to their full potential. This movie could have been so much more. A SCARFACE for the new millenium. But the producers either ran out of money or someone decided to change from a crime drama to crime thriller mid-stream.

In general, it has a moderate amount of blood and violence, that's more or less well-placed and not excessive. Some of the deleted scenes should have been left in. It would have made for a more interesting movie.

OVERALL, it's not a bad movie, but it's nothing special either. If channel surfing on a rainy Sunday afternoon and I see it on cable, I wouldn't turn away. But I wouldn't go out of my way to see it again either.
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Deleted scenes (spoilers)
aya-911 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
There's a deleted scene in which we see Jack having a fight with his Puerto Rican mother. Maria tells her son, whom she calls "Juanito," that he is a disgrace, that he is just like his drug dealer father. Jack storms out of her house, saying "When I die, maybe I'll leave my wife with a reason to live."

I thought this put a different spin on the scene near the end, where Jack refuses to tell Vic his real name, and insults him by calling him a "spic." I got the feeling that Jack had specifically singled out Vic because of his resentment for his father.

Thoughts?
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Mother o' Mercy, is this the rebirth of Rico? (possible spoilers)
fred-28714 December 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Others have pointed out how "Empire" resembles other recent gangster movies such as "Carlito's Way" but I see it's roots extending back to the Thirties, especially "Little Caesar" with Edward G. Robinson whose Rico Bandello also dared to extend his reach only to have his fingers smashed. Unfortunately for "Empire"'s premise, times have changed somewhat since then. It's a little difficult to accept the absolute ghetto-ization of the Spanish people that we see depicted. At one point we hear John Leguizamo as Vic Rosa narrate "Only 20 minutes across the bridge and it's a different world," but that's just it: it's very bridge-able these days. Rosa's girlfriend goes to a nice college and has WASP friends. He's got millions of dollars lying around, and he seems a pretty intelligent guy (as other characters keep reminding us). So he needs a blatantly sleazy weasel like Jack to "guide him out of the wilderness"? He needs somebody else's lawyer to bail him out of jail? Wouldn't he have his own lawyers on 24-hour standby?

That's the chief problem with "Empire," it hinges on a plot point that on it's face makes little sense. Vic Rosa grew up on the streets, he has all the cunning and instincts needed for survival and dominance, yet he goes to one posh party, meets one smooth-talking Anglo and zap! he's smitten. It's not specified exactly when this movie takes place but we're led to believe it's current times, well after all the corporate scandals such as Enron (referred to by "The Sopranos" this past season). So I can't believe someone like Vic would take someone like Jack at face value. (Can anyone spell "Ponzi scheme"?) He'd do a little homework before handing him wads of cash with no more guarantee than "You'll do your part, right?" Also the whole rift between Vic and his girlfriend and other "homies" seemed forced. When it reached the point of making the extravagant deal with "La Columbiana" it was almost funny, like the scenes with the Bolivian cocaine monarch in "Scarface": "Whatever you do, don't ever f--- me, Tony...." The movie's whole second half seemed contrived to set Vic up for a fall, with what ultimate message--"Crime doesn't pay"? Gee, thanks.

Yet there's a lot to like in this flick, chiefly Leguizamo's performance; like all great actors, he doesn't care if the script is original gold or Xerox dross, he invests it with complete emotional honesty, there's never a trace of Been-there-done-that. It's not clear what's the best way to channel his immense talent, whether it's his electrifying one-man cable shows like "Sexaholic" or his unfortunately short-lived sketch show on Fox, "House of Buggin'"--and let me just take a moment here, because I'm still irked at Fox for yanking his show: Hey Fox, remember when you guys had some programming cojones? Remember when new daring stuff had a chance with y'all, how you'd fight for it? If "The Simpsons" were a new Fox show, it'd get cancelled in 3 weeks. Shame on you nowadays, just another corporate clone. (George Carlin's show deserved more of a chance too.) Then there are Leguizamo's film roles, he's still waiting for that Killer Part to put him over the top. Nice to see Sonia Braga again, talk about "aging well." Loved the scene with her and her daughter watching the "telenovela," I watch some of those myself, they're like Anglo soap operas on steroids. Some great milieu in this flick, some decent music, a stunning scene in which a gangster on a couch throws a switch that flings a shotgun into the air to land on his lap, almost poetic. Just too bad the script bailed on us. I wouldn't even mind a sequel about Vic's girlfriend Carmen and the baby. The delightful Delilah Cotto provided the single best moment, swiping Denise Richards across the face, something I've been wanting to do since "Starship Troopers." You go, girl....

Boy, did that chicken look good in the party scene....
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Save your money & time
LynnyBradford12 December 2002
This film is another example of me falling for an exciting theatrical trailer, and leaving the theater very disappointed. There was nothing about this film that was beyond merely "okay". The music wasn't even that great, nor was the acting. Leguizamo was more entertaining doing his voice-over in Ice Age! Seriously, folks. Additionally, the movie was so predictable I found it difficult to keep from falling asleep. But if you feel you MUST see this movie, you would be wise to wait for the video/DVD release.
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9/10
BAD RAP FOR GOOD FILM
Nikki-508 December 2002
Simply put: Empire was great despite horrible reviews. Many critics are saying the film was a rip off of many Scorcese films. The only things in common with other Scorcese films are aspects you might find in any film! That's like saying it ripped off from Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs" because it uses narration! Leguizamo does a great job as portraying Vic & putting a few of his signature traits on him. The film is gritty, believable, well-cast, dialogue is good, & story moves along steadily. People into Hip-Hop or from similar background as Vic will relate to the characters & music. Everybody can relate to a story about someone trying to change for the better or do for their family & getting screwed. I'm happy to see a well made, realistic film with an almost 100% Hispanic cast. And yes there are some negative images of Spanish people & culture, but if you have ever been to the South Bronx, you'll know these images to be true. There are positive images as well. Rap video on the big screen? Not one bit. The only people that would say that probably can't realize anything with Spanish or Black people in a inner city environment using their dialect anything but a 'Rap video'. The characters are driven by money even more so because of their "careers" and environment but they aren't "jiggy" or glossy. They have human traits shining through.

The critics need to do a little more research on the genre before making accusations. "If you cant relate, negate" seems to be the mentality here. Open your mind & see this movie if the plot so compels you!
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Bites hard on Carlito's Way
whooizit7 December 2002
From the first person narrative to the reluctant gangster storyline tothe ending, this movie borrows heavily from Carlito's Way, a film where Leguizamo played a supporting role and was involved in the ending. Leguizamo also reunites in this with Nestor Serrano, who was in Hanging With the Homeboys. THis movie is saved by a strong cast (Isabella Rosselini, SOnia Braga) but there is nothing outstanding about this film.

The one improvement over Carlito's Way is that this film had more real Puerto Rican culture.
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7/10
Great movie IF you are into Hollywood 'hood films
almacafe27 November 2002
Overall, the cinematography was pretty good, soundtrack was excellent but the plot was disappointing. The typical elements that relegate Latinos to stereotypical roles persist throughout the film. However, is groundbreaking in that its done by Arenas Entertainment--the first Latino production/distribution company.
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