New York City, the 1930s. A powerful crime family is caught in a lethal crossfire between union organizers and brutal corporate bosses. Against this turbulent backdrop, the family’s three street-hardened brothers and the women they love are about to be plunged into a deadly confrontation with their enemies, with each other, and with their own dark heritage of violence, madness and murder. –IMDb
Independent New York filmmaker Abel Ferrara became best-known for his low-budget, shockingly violent films that explore the roughest parts of the Big Apple and the darkest reaches of the human soul, with films such as China Girl (1987), his unique version of Romeo and Juliet, generating a devoted following. Ferrara was born in the Bronx, but spent most of his childhood in Peekskill, NY, where he met the two young men who would eventually become his primary screenwriter (Nicholas St. John) and occasional consultant (John McIntyre). As boys, they would play around with 8 mm cameras. In the mid-‘70s, the three reunited and founded Navaron Films, where they produced an adult film. In 1979, they released their most notorious film, Driller Killer, for which Ferrara starred, edited, and wrote the songs under the pseudonym Jimmie Laine. In this movie, a young man goes berserk and begins killing vagrants with a portable power drill. Ferrara continued making low-budget shockers until the late… read more
Chris Penn, Christopher Walken, Vincent Gallo, Benicio Del Toro, Annabella Sciorra, Isabella Rossellini...a ridiculous number of great performances. A different kind of mobster film, the criminal lifestyle is passed down along with serious psychological problems. The difference in how the three brothers deal with this legacy, makes an interesting conflict. Nobody's hands are clean and the past keeps hanging around.
Very underrated Ferrara film, and a real dream cast to boot. Chris Penn delivers his definitive performance, IMO, and the finale is truly shocking. Solid performances from Benicio, Gallo, and Walken, not to mention a strong female character in Sciorra (atypical of the Ferrara films I've seen). As far as gangster films, this one has real heart and depends less on action than on sheer character study.