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Empire (2002)



Average Rating: 4.4/10
Reviews Counted: 99
Fresh: 21 | Rotten: 78

In terms of the gangster genre, Empire's story is yet another tired retread.


Average Rating: 4.6/10
Critic Reviews: 28
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 22

In terms of the gangster genre, Empire's story is yet another tired retread.



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Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 9,637

My Rating

Movie Info

A man who has made good in an illegal business discovers going straight is a more complicated matter than he imagined in this urban drama. Victor Rosa (John Leguizamo) is a drug dealer who has made a small fortune selling a heroin-based drug cocktail he's concocted called "Empire." Victor doesn't see himself as a dope pusher; instead, he considers himself an entrepreneur and a businessman who is simply making the most of the economic opportunities presented to him in the ghetto. Through his


Drama, Action & Adventure


Franc Reyes, Frank Reyes

Mar 18, 2003


Universal Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (111) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (78) | DVD (10)

Yes, we're walking those mean streets again. Good thing we're taking a few unanticipated turns.

December 23, 2002 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A yawningly familiar melodrama about an enterprising hustler who's undone by his own ambitions.

December 10, 2002 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is the most predictable plot twist since The Greatest Story Ever Told. You really know this one is coming and it just ruins the whole movie.

December 9, 2002 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This movie ... doesn't deserve the energy it takes to describe how bad it is.

December 6, 2002 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A retread of material already thoroughly plumbed by Martin Scorsese.

December 6, 2002 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Tries to pass off a scattered, cliched approximation of the real deal.

December 6, 2002
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Even if you haven't seen any of the tell-all television spots, every beat of this crime drama will look and sound familiar.

January 31, 2009 Full Review Source:

You can take the homey out of the hood, but you can't take the hood out of the homey.

February 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Boulder Weekly

The leads make it watchable (plus it's always a hoot to see Denise Richards onscreen in any form)...

February 13, 2004 Full Review Source:

None of this finds an emotional connection, and instead we watch it predictably unfold.

August 3, 2003 Full Review Source: Mark Reviews Movies
Mark Reviews Movies

The film's hodgepodge plot stumbles down the prototypical path of a gangster's fall from grace with a bit of Boiler Room thrown in for good measure.

June 26, 2003 Full Review

. . .this movie has a glossy coat of action movie excess while remaining heartless at its core.

June 12, 2003 Full Review Source:

Depois de capturar a imaginação do espectador com um início envolvente e promissor, a história se perde de forma irremediável, desperdiçando o imenso potencial de seus dois primeiros atos.

May 7, 2003 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

Moody, stylish tale of heroin dealer John Leguizamo facing the white-collar world is a well-shot debut from Franc Reyes.

February 11, 2003 Full Review Source: Netflix

Reyes has obviously seen Goodfellas 50 or 60 times.

January 2, 2003
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/

Unfortunately, Empire is nothing more than an exhausting retread of the same cliched urban cautionary tale that waxes about rebellion and redemption.

December 16, 2002 Full Review Source: Movie Eye
Movie Eye

The film ends up being derivative of every drug-themed, drug-centered movie we've ever seen, and goes down the same dark unforgiving and predictable path as all the others did.

December 13, 2002 Full Review Source:

There isn't a redeeming character to be found in Empire which makes it awfully hard to enjoy.

December 12, 2002
Sun Newspapers of Cleveland

What "Empire" lacks in depth it makes up for with its heart.

December 11, 2002 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Try as I may, I can't think of a single good reason to see this movie, even though everyone in my group extemporaneously shouted, 'Thank you!' when Leguizamo finally plugged an irritating character late in the movie.

December 11, 2002 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

A dreary rip-off of Goodfellas that serves as a muddled and offensive cautionary tale for Hispanic Americans.

December 10, 2002 Full Review Source: eye WEEKLY

An entertaining, colorful, action-filled crime story with an intimate heart.

December 10, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

If it takes too many familiar steps, it is still never less than compelling as it walks the well-trod line.

December 10, 2002 Full Review Source: Journal News (Westchester, NY)
Journal News (Westchester, NY)

John Leguizamo may be a dramatic actor -- just not in this movie.

December 9, 2002 Full Review
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

Audience Reviews for Empire

One of the best gangster movies I seen. I think it's John Leguizamo's best acting roles in any movie, personally - he said before he filmed this movie he actually hung out with drug dealers, to get his part down. It shows! This movie is great.
September 29, 2007

Super Reviewer

I was really disappointed with this one. I really didn't like the writing. First off, the story was way to simple and uninteresting. It had good potential but just didn't deliver. The conclusion was a little to weak. The acting was okay. Mostly only by the main actors and not the supporting cast. But I have seen worse. The directing was okay. Although I did not like the the way the shooting scenes where directed. The production values where okay as well. Nothing special and overall this film is not that great.
August 12, 2012
Eduardo Tobias

Super Reviewer

Familiar, yes. Cliched, yes. But the leads make it watchable, even mostly entertaining, with the bulk of that credit going to John Leguizamo.
April 17, 2011
Jeffrey Meyers

Super Reviewer

Good film, great performance by John Leguizamo.
January 16, 2008

Super Reviewer

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Latest News on Empire

June 22, 2005:
"Empire" Director to Remake Fritz Lang Film
Reuters beings some remake news: Director Franc Reyes (2002's "Empire") has been tapped by...
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