This powerful, gripping action-thriller features John Leguizamo in a riveting performance the Los Angeles Times hails as "superb." "One of the best performances of the year!" The gritty streets of the South Bronx meet the ... more »white-collar world of Wall Street in Empire, a hard-hitting story about the pursuit of fast money and the high price of greed. Featuring Denise Richards, Isabella Rossellini and rap superstars Fat Joe and Treach, Empire is a high-intensity, urban thrill-ride!« less
Story about karma. What you sew can come back to haunt you.
anthony rivera | San Diego,CA by way of NYC | 03/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love empire. i think that John leguizamos(Hangin with the homeboyz,Moulin Rouge,The Pest) and first time director Franc Reyes did an execellent job putting together this film about everyday struggles for us young Puerto Rican Americans growing up in the urban streets of new york city. Movie Critics like Siskel and Ebert and many other movie experts don't rate this movie above average because of all the violence and foul language scenes that this movie contains but this is definately a classic and i hope that some time in the near future we can see another movie similar to this one."
See for another aspect of the New York underground
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/28/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"EMPIRE is a carefully thought out approach to the question of "What would the little drug dealers in New York do if they had the chance to make money legitimately?". Too often we see these gangsta movies that are just caught in the glue of the drug world, rarely advancing out of it. In EMPIRE John Leguizamo makes us believe in his character, in his striving to get out of the drug world to make a life for his girlfriend and incipient family. There are clever twists and turns and it is great to see the 'bad guy' be the uptown Ivy League manipulator. The cast is strong, the photography is good, the narration of the story by Leguizamo is enlightening, and the movie takes us where others are afraid to go. Worth your time."
I think that this movie was great
Gladys J. Pellot | 07/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"i think that this movie was great i think iit showed the gritty side of drug bussiness and when you make the wrong decision there's no way out of it.i love it cause it showed how life is for drug dealers and thier lives and drama that conquers in thier lives,and the people that are affected by all of this."
The bigger the empire, the harder the fall...
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 05/07/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I had high expectation for `Empire'. That is probably where I went wrong. As far as a drug fueled gangster story, this does have its high points, but overall it misses a lot of marks and comes up short too many times for me. It wants to be something more than it is capable of becoming. I take that back. It wants to be something more than it actually is, which is sad because it was capable of becoming all that it wanted to be.
The film tells the story of hustler Victor Rosa who makes a decent living being fairly indecent. In an attempt to solidify his safety (and procure a nice future), Victor tries his hand at more complex games only to eventually be taken for everything.
With a cast that includes some pretty heavy hitters (Sarsgaard, Rossellini), some beautiful faces (Braga, Richards) and some charismatic talent (Leguizamo), this really should have been a slam dunk. Sadly, it fails on two opposite ends of the spectrum. As far as becoming an intelligent drama, the script lacks any real depth or polish. It feels rushed and unfocused. As far as being truly engaging and exciting, it suffers again from lack of real focus. The film doesn't really have any true intensity, and thus it loses its bite and in the end loses the audience.
The actors (outside of Leguizamo) aren't given much to build off of, which is a shame considering the talent involved. Rossellini's role is rather thankless (UGH, she is so amazing, why couldn't they have really USED her?!?!?!) and Richards and Braga are given barely anything to do other than look pretty. Richards nails her seductive nature, but she fades into shallow forgetfulness as the script disregards her. Sarsgaard actually handles his character impeccably (he is good at the shady guy) but I would have loved to know more about his character.
Yes, Leguizamo carries this movie, and actually does a stand-up job with what he is given. I just wish that he had been given a better movie to work within.
In the end, there are some themes that resonate well, they just aren't fleshed out enough. I actually found the ending effectively chilling, I just wish that it also didn't come as such a relief for me (as in, thank god this is finally over). I'm giving this a C. It has something going for it, it just doesn't understand fully how to make that something WORK for it.
I hate that this should have been so much better."
Dig beneath the surface
Andrew Ellington | 09/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The plot: Successful South Bronx drug dealer Vic (John Leguizamo), hooked up solid w/ a co-ed neighbor Carmen (Delilah Cotto), is looking to move up to the next level in business. At a party, Vic meets Jack, the whitebread stockbroker boyfriend (Peter Skarsgard) of Carmen's college buddy (Denise Richards). Vic envies Jack's class, connections, and bling bling. Vic and Jack do business, Jack cheats Vic, then fades. Vic vows revenge. Leguizamo has charisma to burn as Vic. Cotto wears Carmen like a favorite dress. Skarsgard is pefectly white as, well, whitey. Pretty formulaic.So, why did I give it five stars? The deleted scenes.If you follow the entertainment news even casually, you've read a million stories about great movies that turned into vile theatrical releases because the fickle test audience and/or egomanical studio head/director/star demanded cuts that transformed cinema gold into more film for the recycling bin. That's what's happened with Empire, but fortunately, the deleted scenes are included. With them, this by-the-numbers gangsta flick turns into a rich, nuanced classic, brimming with emotional truth and authentic, relatable Puerto Rican characters and culture. With the deleted scenes, you understand why Vic gives up everything to get ahead, why Carmen supports him, why Carmen's mother hates Vic, and why Jack is the whitest, sneakiest guy on the planet.Clearly, Empire was edited for an audience of teenaged gangsta wannabes who don't want to question their assumptions about race, gender, and culture. It should have been released as a film for adults, a classic tragedy that ranks with White Heat, Little Caesar, Blood In Blood Out and American Me.At least now we have the deleted scenes to help us understand what Empire was supposed to be. Here's hoping Franc. Reyes will have the opportunity to release a director's cut somewhere down the road. He and his actors deserve it, and so do we."