Gangs of New York (2002) Review
Recently I was asked to take part in a review of Scorsese’s films by Andy at Rorschach Reviews , there was a list and we had to pick a film we hadn’t seen so I picked Gangs of New York. Got a copy and 10 minutes into the film defuq is happening!? I had no idea what this film was about at all but I do now and like it. The story of this film is madness pure and simple. The characters are fantastic in this film, crazy and totally unpredictable which what I like in a really entertaining film. The visuals in this film are really great, I know it had a pretty big budget and it shows in every detail. This film is historical fiction very much like Django Unchained it is based around truths in the past but has its own story and characters.
“Mulberry Street… and Worth… Cross and Orange… and Little Water. Each of the Five Points is a finger. When I close my hand it becomes a fist. And, if I wish, I can turn it against you.”
The violent rise of gangland power in New York City at a time of massive political corruption and the city’s evolution into a cultural melting pot set the stage for this lavish historical epic, which director Martin Scorsese finally brought to the screen almost 30 years after he first began to plan the project. In 1846, as waves of Irish immigrants poured into the New York neighborhood of Five Points, a number of citizens of British and Dutch heritage who were born in the United States began making an open display of their resentment toward the new arrivals. William Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), better known as “Bill the Butcher” for his deadly skill with a knife, bands his fellow “Native Americans” into a gang to take on the Irish immigrants; the immigrants in turn form a gang of their own, “The Dead Rabbits,” organized by Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson). After an especially bloody clash between the Natives and the Rabbits leaves Vallon dead, his son goes missing; the boy ends up in a brutal reform school before returning to the Five Points in 1862 as Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio). Now a strapping adult who has learned how to fight, Amsterdam has come to seek vengeance against Bill the Butcher, whose underworld control of the Five Points through violence and intimidation dovetails with the open corruption of New York politician “Boss” Tweed (Jim Broadbent). Amsterdam gradually penetrates Bill the Butcher’s inner circle, and he soon becomes his trusted assistant.
Tim’s Film Reviews Recommended
Story: 90% Acting: 90% Characters: 90% Dialogue: 95%
Historical Fiction: 85% Style/Sound: 95% Visuals: 100%
The story of this film is madness pure and simple. It starts off with no context what so ever in a conflict that looks insane without any prior knowledge, actually it’s still crazy. The fighting is all around race and territory and religion and revenge, you know the normal stuff we fight about but in a really small and cramped area of New York. I think this is the best thing Scorsese did in this film, examining the absurdity of most conflicts especially revenge as it will only give a person a hollow victory if that. There’s a great shot in the first fight were we see the fighting from the kids point of view and it just looks like a hoard of people fighting in grey clothes over the white snow, there’s no identifying one person from another and child’s view it seemed even more insane. Throughout the film the American civil war is mentioned and comparisons are drawn as this tiny piece of the country is in its own conflict.
The characters are fantastic in this film, crazy and totally unpredictable which what I like in a really entertaining film. You can never get bored watching a film with characters who you just can’t predict. We’ll start from the top and talk about Daniel Day-Lewis who plays the most entertaining character in this entire film. He’s violent, racist and bat shit crazy! Cut out his own eye and replaced it with a glass eye with an eagle on it. My favourite scene of his would have to be at the celebration of his victory when he finds out who Amsterdam really is and you get to see him from toying cruelty to crazy violence as he attacks Amsterdam, it’s a great scene where you get to see Daniel Day-Lewis go all out and its scene you just can’t look away from. Leonardo DiCaprio whilst not creating my favourite character of the film he still did well and on his game. Brendan Gleeson was great to watch, Liam Neeson was short and sweet as always, and Scorsese know how to make everyone work together for an entertaining time regardless of their individual talents.
The visuals in this film are really great, I know it had a pretty big budget and it shows in every detail and of the vast scale of the film. Right from the get go you get a giant fight with about hundred men with basic weapons and it all looks real with giant sets and large acting casts. The costumes and buildings look great and considering it cover pretty much everything; we get the rich, the poor, the middle class, the different gangs and the military. The whole lot is very impressive considering this is not Scorsese’s forte and so he created a world which looked to match the time.
This film is historical fiction very much like Django Unchained it is based around truths in the past but has its own story and characters. I love historical fiction especially if it’s to highlight something happening in that time zone; like in this it’s the American civil war and mass immigration from Ireland. The style of the film is so brash and unforgiving that it’s hard not to get suckered into this strange world and its customs. I think you can love this film as long as you can watch Daniel Day-Lewis fight with Liam Neeson one with a meat cleaver and one with an iron cross and go this is crazy but I like it!
Must Watch Trailer:
The best reviews I found would be these “It’s never less than compelling, driven by an overwhelming, larger than life performance from Day-Lewis and by Scorsese’s grandiose historical imagination” Time Out. “The whole may not add up to the sum of its parts, but it’s difficult to dismiss the brilliance of those parts” Michael Dequina. “The impact is all in the broad strokes of Scorsese’s design: the corresponding coming-of-age stories of three confused and violent adolescents: Amsterdam Vallon, New York City, and America” Peter Canavese. “Day-Lewis’s sneering, roaring, monstrous performance as the Butcher will remind you of the seemingly superhuman work Robert DeNiro performed in his prime” Jeffrey Overstreet. “It will be a film that, in decades hence, will only grow in stature and importance” Dan Jardine.
My favourite scene would have to be the annual celebration of the butcher’s victory in that opera place. It’s a great scene were we get to see Daniel Day-Lewis play with knifes and people because he found out who Amsterdam really is and it’s so dramatic to watch because he can flip the switch so quick from in control to full on crazy and it’s great to watch.