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The Mambo Kings
The Mambo Kings
Actors: Armand Assante, Antonio Banderas, Cathy Moriarty, Maruschka Detmers, Pablo Calogero
Director: Arne Glimcher
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
R     2005     1hr 44min

In the 1950s, two Cuban brothers come to America to seek fame and fortune as musicians.


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Movie Details

Actors: Armand Assante, Antonio Banderas, Cathy Moriarty, Maruschka Detmers, Pablo Calogero
Director: Arne Glimcher
Creators: Arne Glimcher, Anna Reinhardt, Arnon Milchan, Jack B. Bernstein, Steven Reuther, Cynthia Cidre, Oscar Hijuelos
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Family Life
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 08/16/2005
Original Release Date: 02/28/1992
Theatrical Release Date: 02/28/1992
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 44min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 11
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 09/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I really enjoyed this film, based upon the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love" by Oscar Hijuelos. With its sexy, pulsating, and rhythmic soundtrack, as well as the strong performances by the entire cast, this film is highly entertaining. The events in this sharply stylized period film take place in the nineteen fifties, at the height of the mambo dance craze. Two young Cuban musicians, brothers Cesar (Armand Assante) and Nestor Castillo (Antonio Banderas), flee Cuba after a love triangle takes a potentially deadly twist. The love sick Nestor leaves behind the love of his life, the beautiful Maria Rivera (Talisa Soto), now married to his romantic rival.The brothers arrive in New York, where Cesar meets the lushly sensuous, blonde bombshell, Lana Lake (Cathy Moriarty). They eventually marry, while Nestor, still carrying a torch for Maria, meets the sedate and quietly pretty Delores Fuentes (Maruschka Detmers), whom he eventually marries. Given a helping hand by fellow Cuban, Desi Arnaz, Sr. (Desi Arnaz, Jr.), Cesar and Nestor shortly become stars of the dance halls and clubs they play, where they are christened the "Mambo Kings".Unfortunately, Cesar's dreams are not necessarily Nestor's dreams and conflicts arise. The brothers also run into trouble when Cesar's arrogance pits him against a musical syndicate that rules the clubs and dance halls with an iron hand, derailing their careers for a time. Moreover, Nestor's marriage is seriously troubled, because of his obsession with his lost love. Still, no matter what, there is always the music.Armand Assante gives an over-the-top, manic performance as Cesar, the older brother whose arrogance and single-minded ambition nearly alienates his brother. He over-acts the part, making his character almost cartoonish, at times. It is as if he were drowning in his own machismo. Still, he infuses the role with a certain energy that makes him strangely compelling. Moreover, the guy can really dance!It is the bittersweet performance by Antonio Banderas, however, that takes one's breath away. Antonio Banderas infuses the role of the artistic, younger brother, Nestor, with a poignancy, sensitivity, and sensuousness that is remarkable. He handles the role with a delicacy that nearly brought tears to my eyes. Banderas makes the viewer feel Nestor's pain, so palpable is his anguish over his lost love, Maria. When he sings his ode to her, ""Beautiful Maria of My Soul", the viewer is transfixed, so beautifully does he sing it. Look for a cameo by the late Tito Puente. The late Celia Cruz also appears in this film, cast as Evalina Montoya, a popular club singer. The viewer is in for a treat with these two salsa greats doing what they do best. It was also somewhat eerie to see the role of Desi Arnaz, Sr. played by his real life son, Desi Arnaz, Jr., as the resemblance is so remarkable, right down to the accent. Special note should also be taken of Roscoe Lee Brown's silky performance as club impresario Fernando Perez. The film captures the flavor of the nineteen fifties, when night clubs were synonymous with night life, and big bands still held sway. I particularly enjoyed this film, because my parents emigrated from Cuba. Having grown up in New York City during the nineteen fifties, this film holds a certain amount of nostalgia for me."
Great Movie that transports you to another time and place
Barnaby Dorfman | Seattle, WA USA | 08/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Definitely on my top 10. The Mambo Kings has several things that make it an all time favorite. First, it uses the medium to pull you in an give you the feeling you are part of the moment. The sets, costumes, cars, and music are detailed to perfection. Especially the music! Cameo's by the great singers of Cuban music make it real. Celia Cruz and the late Tito Puente are awesome! The theme song is beautiful and nothing less than haunting. Check out fantastic soundtrack.Second, the plot takes some unique twists and turns. The relationship between two brother seems formulaic at the beginning and then both characters acquire unexpected depth and traits. I believe that both Antonio Banderas (this was his first Hollywood film) and Armand Assante give their best performances to date."
If you love Latin Music, Antonio Banderas or Armand Assante.
Lynn Berman | Brooklyn, NY United States | 12/18/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Ok, so Armand Assante's cuban "accent" isn't exactley convincing and the sparks between Dolores (Antonio's wife) and Cesar go nowhere, BUT, the music, dancing and THOSE GUYS are AWESOME!!! This continues to be one of my very favorite movies. The story is simple and predictable and that's okay because it's so much fun. There are some creative bits thrown in that make the familiarity of story just a bit different and the music is really phenominal-I want to get up and dance everytime I see it!
The book definitely should be read, but AFTER seeing the movie-it's darker and will detract from the fun of the film. Oh, by the way, Antonio has NEVER looked better!"
Almost as good as the book
Greekfreak | Pusan Korea (South) | 08/18/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Based on the first half of Oscar Hijuelos' novel "The Mambo Kings Play Songs Of Love", it's one of the rare exceptions to the rule that movies adaptations of novels can never rise to the quality of the source material.

To this day, I cannot figure out why Armand Assante never received any props for this film whatsoever. Though not of Cuban descent, he's perfectly cast as the arrogant and hot-blooded Cesar Castillo. Antonio Banderas' first English film role doesn't do his career any harm; though he only learned the script phonetically, you won't notice the difference.

The other star of this film has to be the music; one of the best soundtracks of the 90s hands down, with music by Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Beny More, and Machito, this is a great Cuban music sampler.

If the ending of the film seems incomplete and/or rushed, it's because it ends right about halfway through the novel (the second half documents Cesar's latter years). But believe me you can't go wrong with this movie. Anybody who doesn't feel the beat of this film pounding through their veins is dead."