"A Strange Fairness"
Review by Ross Anthony

Compelling, involving, great pace, real dialogue, assertive direction, clean tight cinematography and strong acting -- Leguizamo is completely believable as cocaine seller (he prefers businessman) Victor Rosa in the Bronx. But Empire is only barely about drugs while mostly about money, friendship, and decisions. Where as many films of this nature linger on the hard, the ugly, the blood, or just the stylistic; Empire focuses on the thinking, the love, and even the light-heartedness, as well as the violence.

While I mostly enjoyed the film, unfortunately, two or three pivotal points in the plot defy believability or at least character description. The rest, believable and oddly warm, Rosa voices over as if telling the tale in hindsight, "National Geographic should do a documentary on us, f*ck Bosnia."

Leguizamo says of the script, "Contrary to the typical gangster-related scripts I often read, Empire depicts a true-to-life account of the urban community. Franc. Reyes and I both grew up in neighborhoods like the one in this film, which is why the struggles and obstacles Victor faces -- and the choices he makes -- are so real. It's not just a genre film or some formula. It's told from the point of view of somebody who has lived it. It is written with such conviction and depth, that I knew I had to play this part."

  • Empire. Copyright © 2002. Rated R.
  • Starring John Leguizamo, Peter Sarsgaard, Denise Richards, Vincent Laresca, Isabella Rossellini, Sonia Braga, Delilah Cotto, Nestor Serrano, Treach, Rafael Baez, Fat Joe.
  • Written & Directed by Franc. Reyes.
  • Produced by Daniel Bigel, Michael Mailer at Arenas/Universal.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:11:52 PDT