Wednesday, October 16, 2013

American Me (1992)

Urban Crime Movie #13 

Synopsis: It’s essentially a better version of Blood In, Blood Out with the scary-looking guy from Miami Vice

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “In prison they are the law. On the streets they are the power.” 

What Did I Learn?:  1) Guys, if your first sexual encounter with a woman ends with her in tears because you tried to anally penetrate her, maybe you’ve spent far too many years in the slammer. 2) Edward James Olmos has perfected the art of speaking softly while giving fellow actors a menacing death-stare. 

Really?: 1) Wow...take a drink every time a character says: “Orale!” or addresses somebody as “ese”. 2) I can understand the Mexican Mafia raping and humiliating Scagnelli’s imprisoned son, in order to teach the old gangster a lesson, but why is it necessary to kill the young man? As long as he’s in the Big House, he’s a bargaining chip. Killing him is incredibly dumb. 3) So, are Caucasians and Koreans eligible to join Hispanic street gangs, let alone rise to the very top of the organization? I can understand JD murdering Santana on the understanding that power corrupts, but I would imagine that as the gang’s only(?) white member who was accepted on Santana’s say-so, that seems awfully ungrateful and dangerous. 

Rating: Much like Blood In, Blood Out, American Me looks at the early history of the Mexican Mafia, but it’s a superior film, in part thanks to a fine performance by Olmos (as J.D, William Forsythe once again proves he can pretty much step into any role), and a South Central-style prison redemption story. American Me is at its best when it focuses on Santana’s leadership of the Mexican Mafia behind bars, but it tends to drag when the action shifts to his life on the outside, and his ill-fated romance with a local woman. 8/10 stars. 

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