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"EMPIRE"
(2002) (John Leguizamo, Peter Sarsgaard) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Extreme Heavy Extreme *Moderate Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Minor Minor Mild Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Heavy Minor Moderate Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A gangster tries to transition from dealing drugs to making millions in the stock market, but learns that such a move isn't without its own complications and dangers.
PLOT:
In the South Bronx, Victor Rosa (JOHN LEGUIZAMO) is a gangster who fancies himself a self-made man via his dealing of a heroin mixture he calls "Empire." Working with his associates Jimmy (VINCENT LARESCA), Chedda (TREACH) and Jay (RAFAEL BAEZ), Victor deals for the powerful La Colombiana (ISABELLA ROSSELLINI) and her brother Rafael Menendez (NESTOR SERRANO). Occasionally, turf wars break out between him and La Colombiana's other dealers, including Tito (FAT JOE) and Hector (CARLOS LEON).

When he's not dealing or reaping the benefits of his lucrative business, Victor sees his live-in girlfriend and current college student Carmen (DELILAH COTTO), whose mother, Iris (SONIA BRAGA), doesn't approve of her daughter seeing a drug dealer.

It's at Baruch College where Carmen meets fellow student Trish (DENISE RICHARDS) who throws a party where Victor meets her investment banker boyfriend Jack (PETER SARSGAARD). The two men realize they have much in common despite their differences, and it's not long before Jack offers to get Victor and his drug money involved in the market.

With a baby on the way, Victor is enticed by the thought of going straight but remaining in the money business. Accordingly, he starts to make his move to break free from his gang as well as La Colombiana. Yet, he finds the divorce more difficult than he imagined and soon finds himself treading in some rather deep waters. From that point on, Victor has to figure out how to deal with the various problems and dangerous situations that arise.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of anyone in the cast or of drug-related gangster movies, they just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong violence, pervasive language, drug content and some sexuality.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
To avoid giving away some late in the film developments, not all character attributes are listed below.
  • JOHN LEGUIZAMO plays a South Bronx gangster who wants to move from dealing drugs to investing his money in the stock market. He uses strong profanity, gets violent with various people (including murder), smokes (cigarettes and pot) and drinks.
  • VINCENT LARESCA plays his right-hand man in the dealing business who uses strong profanity and gets violent with people (including murder).
  • TREACH and RAFAEL BAEZ play their associates who also deal drugs, use strong profanity and kill people.
  • PETER SARSGAARD plays an investment banker who lures Victor into investing his cash with him in the stock market to make greater amounts of money. He uses strong profanity and smokes.
  • DENISE RICHARDS plays his girlfriend who smokes, drinks and uses strong profanity. She also tries to seduce Victor.
  • ISABELLA ROSSELLINI plays the powerful drug dealer who supplies Victor and others with their goods and controls their lives and livelihood. She briefly uses strong profanity.
  • NESTOR SERRANO plays her brother who serves as her enforcer. He smokes, kills and uses strong profanity.
  • DELILAH COTTO plays Victor's live-in, college-attending girlfriend who finds herself pregnant and then upset about the way Victor is acting. She uses strong profanity.
  • SONIA BRAGA plays her mother who doesn't like Victor or the fact that he's seeing her daughter.
  • FAT JOE and CARLOS LEON play rival drug dealers to Victor and his crew. They use strong profanity and the former opens fire on intruders in his place.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 214 "f" words, while many other expletives and colorful phrases are also used. Some sexually related dialogue is present, while two women come on to the protagonist (with some groping and intended but not started oral sex). One scene features a bare-breasted woman caressing and then kissing another bare-breasted woman in a bathtub, while another has a man beginning to undress his girlfriend.

    Violence consists of many people being shot and killed, often with bloody results, while a man beats up another man. Some of those scenes could be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers, while those responsible and others have extreme, bad attitudes. Meanwhile, various characters drink and/or smoke throughout the film, while one occasionally smokes pot and many of the characters are involved in dealing drugs.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, several scenes contain that (an overhead train creates some related sparks, while a wall light flickers in a stairwell).


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Victor, his crew and others are drug dealers.
  • We see a drug transaction occurring.
  • We see Victor's heroin mixture, "Empire" being created and bagged.
  • La Colombiana has a drink.
  • Victor and his crew have beer.
  • A guy drinks from a bottle in a brown paper bag.
  • Victor smokes pot, offers some to Carmen (she refuses) and then hands the joint to a doorman (who throws it away).
  • People drink at a party where Victor has a beer.
  • Victor drinks from a brown paper bag while driving.
  • Various people have drinks.
  • Rafael and Victor have drinks.
  • We see various bottles of liquor in Tito's place.
  • Various people drink in a restaurant, including Victor.
  • Jimmy and Victor have beer.
  • We see women mixing and bagging drugs in the background of a shot.
  • Victor and his crew have beer.
  • Victor smokes a joint.
  • People drink at a party.
  • Jack and Victor drink.
  • Hector pours liquor for Victor, Jimmy and himself (and downs his).
  • Victor has a drink.
  • Trish asks for some wine, but all Victor can find for her appears to be beer.
  • We see a bottle of liquor and some in a glass next to Victor's bed.
  • Victor drinks.
  • Chedda and Ray have shots, while Victor later has one as well.
  • Victor, Chedda and Ray have beer.
  • A man has a beer.
  • Some people are served liquor in a bar.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We hear a gunshot and then see a guy who's been shot in the head (with blood down the side of it).
  • A man's face is rather bloody after Victor has punched him many times. We later see this man again with that blood on his face.
  • We see blood splatter onto a wall when Victor (who has a little blood on him) shoots a man dead.
  • We see blood on a boy's shirt after he's shot.
  • We see some bullet hole scars on Victor's shoulder and chest.
  • We see blood and a bullet hole after a man is shot in the head.
  • We see blood on a person's head after they've been shot and killed.
  • We see blood on a person's shirt when he's shot several times.
  • A man's head is bloody as is the car seat around him after he's shot in the head at point blank range.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Victor, his crew and other dealers and their bosses have extreme cases of bad attitudes for dealing drugs and killing people.
  • Victor introduces Jay to the viewer as something of an idiot savant, but then says that sometimes he's more idiot than savant.
  • Victor refers to another dealer as a "faggot" and later calls Carmen a "dumb bitch." Later, Jimmy and Jack separately call Victor a "spic."
  • We hear that a boy's mother has been taking his money.
  • Trish comes on to Victor and is ready to perform a sexual act on him when they're interrupted.
  • Several people double-cross Victor and take his money.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" might also be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers (although most will affect only the young or those with low tolerance levels for such material).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Shotguns/Automatic weapons: Used to threaten, wound or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "F*ck me up," "F*ck this m*therf*cking game," "F*cked up," "What the f*ck /you doing/does that exactly mean/is wrong with you?" "I'm f*cking tired of your sh*t," "F*cking piece of sh*t," "Get the f*ck out of here," "I don't give a f*ck what the f*ck he knows," "F*ck 'em," "What took you so f*cking long?" "Shut the f*ck up," "Don't say a f*cking word," "I don't know who the f*ck you are," "F*ck that," "F*ck you," "Stupid f*cking idiot," "I don't give a f*ck," "Dumb f*cks," "F*ck this sh*t," "That was pretty f*cking stupid," "You f*cking whore," "You f*ck," "Everything else is just bullsh*t," "Holy sh*t," "Gives a sh*t about you?" "I give a sh*t," "Oh sh*t," "Ghetto piece of sh*t," "Faggot," "Dope ass," "Dumb ass," "Nigger" (said various times), "Bitch" (said various times about men and a woman), "Snotty," "That's for damn sure," "Suck," "Pain in our asses," "Oh hell yeah," "Smart ass," "Chick" (woman), "What the hell /is wrong with you/are you doing here?" "Big ass," "Balls" (testicles), "Spic," "Suckers" and "Shut up."
  • Some kids might want to imitate the drug dealer lifestyle and/or use of guns present in the film.
  • Victor drinks from a brown paper bag while driving.
  • Carmen wears a midriff-revealing top.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A person suddenly shoots another person.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A tiny bit of such music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • A song had the term "nigger" in it, while other lyrics couldn't be understood.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 214 "f" words (34 used with "mother"), 55 "s" words, 1 slang term each using male and female genitals ("d*ck" and "p*ssy"), 14 asses (3 used with "hole"), 11 hells, 10 damns and 6 uses of "Oh my God," 3 of "Swear to God," 2 each of "G-damn" and "My God" and 1 use each of "God," "Jesus Christ" and "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • La Colombiana shows some cleavage in several scenes.
  • We briefly see Jimmy in bed with a woman who he appears to be paying for being there.
  • We see some brief, passionate kissing between Victor and Carmen. Moments later, he lowers her top (we see her in her bra) and kisses her cleavage as she stands before him. He starts to take off her pants and kisses her belly, but the scene ends there.
  • Carmen shows some cleavage, as do various women at a party. She later wears a low-cut top that shows the tops of her breasts.
  • At a party, we see a bare-breasted woman in a bikini bottom leaning over and bathing another topless woman (from behind her) in a bathtub. The two women then briefly kiss.
  • We hear that Carmen is pregnant by Victor.
  • As Victor lies in a hospital bed with his right arm incapacitated from a gunshot wound, he jokingly comments that his "d*ck" doesn't like his left hand when talking about "beating off."
  • Chedda asks Victor if there's some "p*ssy" he's chasing.
  • Carmen wears tight jeans and a midriff-revealing top and the camera focuses on her body as she moves in slow motion.
  • Jack has a young woman by him who nuzzles his neck and then calls for another woman to come over for Victor. That woman kisses on him and then runs her hand down to Victor's crotch, causing him to react in a pleasured fashion.
  • Trish comes on to Victor (who's wearing just a towel) after letting herself into his place. She gets closer to him and won't let him change into his clothes. She then kisses him and he tries to resist, but she then kisses down his chest and toward his crotch (out of the picture), but they're interrupted before anything else happens.
  • SMOKING
  • Victor smokes more than 5 times (once with a cigar), Jack, Chedda, Rafael and Trish smoke several times each and various miscellaneous characters smoke cigars and cigarettes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We see a flashback to when Victor's brother was murdered.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Drug dealers.
  • White collar crimes.
  • Investment banking.
  • Trying to go straight after living a life of crime.
  • The old saying of "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
  • VIOLENCE
  • We hear a gunshot and then see a guy who's been shot in the head (with blood down the side of it).
  • Victor and his crew set out to get revenge on a gangster for beating up another person. As the others hold guns on the other man's crew, Victor proceeds to punch the man several times in the face until it's rather bloody. That man then pulls his gun when Victor turns to walk away, but others stop him from using it.
  • Tito throws one of his own men onto a pool table in an aggressively menacing fashion.
  • A man shoots Victor twice, injuring him.
  • We see a flashback to a person walking up to another person and holding a gun to their head. We then hear a gunshot and see the victim lying on the ground.
  • Jimmy, Chedda and Ray enter Tito's place after one of them punches and shoots the guy who answers the door. They then open fire on everyone inside who then fire back. Various people are shot dead, while Victor shoots a guy twice outside, killing him. Tito then opens fire on the three men with various weapons (some of which cause massive property damage and after they hit him with a shot) until Victor walks in, holds a gun to his head and executes him (with bloody results).
  • Jimmy hears a noise, spins around and fires a shot. We then see that he hit and killed a boy.
  • We hear a shot and then see that Jimmy has shot and killed a rival (with bloody results). Victor and Jimmy then struggle and have to be separated.
  • Carmen slaps Trish for trying to seduce Victor.
  • Jimmy briefly holds his gun on Victor.
  • We hear a gunshot and then see Rafael pass by, suggesting that he shot and killed a man.
  • Victor throws a vase and kicks over a table while angry.
  • Victor sneaks into a place and confronts the two people who stole money from him. During a lot of yelling, he hits one person on the head with his gun (after aiming it at him) and then shoots a second person dead. The first person then approaches him and Victor shoots him several times, killing him (both have bloody results).
  • A man's head is bloody as is the car seat around him after he's shot in the head at point blank range.



  • Reviewed December 2, 2002 / Posted December 6, 2002

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