Following the death of his employer and mentor, Bumpy Johnson, Frank Lucas establishes himself as the number one importer of heroin in the Harlem district of Manhattan. He does so by buying heroin directly from the source in South East Asia and he comes up with a unique way of importing the drugs into the United States. As a result, his product is superior to what is currently available on the street and his prices are lower. His alliance with the New York Mafia ensures his position. It is also the story of a dedicated and honest policeman, Richie Roberts, who heads up a joint narcotics task force with the Federal government. Based on a true story.Written by
The character Dominick Cattano (played by Armand Assante) was loosely based on real-life mobster and drug trafficker Vincent Papa. At the time the movie portrays, the Italian Mob were supplying much of NYC massive amounts of narcotics that were confiscated from the original "French Connection" case from the early 1960's where an approximate $400 million dollars of heroin were stolen from the NYPD property clerks office located at 400 Broome Street in Manhattan, NY. The scope and depth of this scheme are still not known, but officials suspect it involved corrupt NYPD officers who allowed Vincent Papa, Virgil Allesi, Anthony Loria and other notorious mafia members access to the NYPD property/evidence storage room, where hundreds of kilograms of heroin lay seized from the now-infamous French Connection bust, and from which the men would help themselves and replace missing heroin with flour and cornstarch to avoid detection. See more »
In the movie, the street signs are green with white lettering. In 1970s Manhattan, street signs were yellow with black lettering. See more »
At the end of the closing credits, Frank Lucas approaches the camera and fires one shot from a pistol directly at the audience. See more »
The 175 min.-unrated extended version includes approx. 19 minutes of additional footage not seen in the theatrical release. Among the highlights are:
A flashback with Frank Lucas and Bumpy Johnson on a boardwalk
A short scene showing Richie Roberts acquiring office space for his new narcotics task force (this added scene follows immediately after Toback assigns Roberts to head up the federal investigation using honest cops of Roberts' choice)
A nighttime scene where Roberts and his team tail a drug pusher with a stash of Blue Magic to an auto body shop; the next morning, Spearman strikes a deal with the shop owner "Scott" over the phone, which leads up to Roberts under disguise dropping off $20,000 to get a supply of Blue Magic
In the Bronx, right after Spearman drops off Roberts and informs him that he'll circle the block, an extended scene takes place where Roberts sees both Scott take off in his Jeep and Spearman getting blocked by a broken-down truck, unable to reach Roberts. In desperation, Roberts stops a yellow cab and shows his badge, argues with the uncooperative cabbie to use it, and eventually decks the cabbie in the face to take control of the cab and quickly pursues the escaping drug pusher, ending with Roberts following the unsuspecting Scott on foot.
After the Christmas visit with Charlie Williams, there's an extended scene with Frank and Eva back at their home, where Frank reminisces how Bumpy gradually stayed more and more at home towards the end of his life because of constant police surveillance. He then asks Eva if she wants to go out, nevertheless.
An extended ending in 1991 where Lucas upon release from jail is picked up by Roberts, and the two make their way towards the intersection of 116 St. and Frederick Douglass Blvd, conversing while drinking lattes.
When I first saw the film, I didn't find it all that engaging, but by the time I got around to seeing the extended cut, I warmed up to it. It's a terrific crime film that accomplishes damn near everything it set out to do, and with an amazing cast of performers along with a stellar lead performance and riveting direction from director Ridley Scott (in top form here), it's one of the essential American crime movies of the past decade, drawing influence upon genre classics - such as Superfly, Goodfellas, and Black Caeser, while effortlessly carving its own identity. If you're not big on crime films, most of your enjoyment from this will be based on how much you like the cast and how familiar you are with their work, but one can't deny how well made and polished the film is.
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