Saturday, November 7, 2009

Budget DVDs: Gangs of New York

A tale of revenge, revenge upon a killer. That is Martin Scorsese's late 1800s gangster film in a nutshell. Gangs of New York is a film that has many of Scorsese's typical trademark flourishes and is a worthy addition to his legendary filmography.

The film follows a young Irish immigrant named Amsterdam as he travels through the cutthroat gangs of New York City in 1862. Amsterdam is searching for his father's killer, the untouchable, Bill the Butcher.

The themes of revenge and vengeance run rampant throughout the film. Amsterdam wishes to avenge his father's murder, while Amsterdam's friend, Johnny, betrays him to the Butcher out of revenge for stealing the girl of his dreams. Even Bill the Butcher's striking down of Priest Valon (Amsterdam's father) was an act of revenge after the Priest removed his eye.

The film was superbly directed by the great Martin Scorsese. The production design, stunning, but what impressed me the most was the acting, in particular Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher. Day-Lewis disappeared within this role like he does with nearly every part he's ever played, and he was definitely on top of his game here as the chilling Butcher.

While the film kind of chugs a bit in the middle parts, the beginning and the end form terrific bookends to a highly entertaining, and extremely well-made film.

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