American Me

1992

American Me (1992)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Edward J. Olmos made his directorial bow with the powerhouse crime saga American Me. Olmos stars as street-gang leader Santana, who during his 18 years in Folsom Prison rules over all the drug-and-murder activities behind bars. Upon his release, Santana goes back to his old neighborhood, intending to lead a peaceful, crime-free life. But his old gang buddies force him back into his old habits. The omniprescene of the "Mexican Mafia" in the southwest is sufficient to make this film a daunting, demoralizing experience. Upon its release, American Me received a lot of press play due to the fact that Olmos shot his Folsom sequences on location, using actual prisoners as extras and bit players.

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Cast

Daniel Villarreal
as Little Puppet
Sal Lopez
as Pedro
Vira Montes
as Esperanza
Panchito Gomez
as Young Santana
Steve Wilcox
as Young JD
Richard Coca
as Young Mundo
Tom Bower
as Dornan (uncredited)
Joe Aubel
as Tattoo Artist
Rob Garrett
as Zoot Riot Bystander
Lance August
as Young Sailor
Cody Glenn
as Older Sailor
Don Pugsley
as Police Officer
Albert Joe Medina Jr.
as Street Mechanic
Alex Solis
as Street Mechanic
Richard Lee-Sung
as Restaurant Owner
Eric Close
as Juvie Hall Attacker
Christian Klemash
as Blonde Kid in Yard
Rafael Robledo
as El Chucko
Brian Joe Holechek
as Juvie Officer
Michael Shaner
as Tony Scagnelli Jr.
Glenn Shelton
as Visiting Room Guard
Scott Johnstad
as Visiting Room Guard
Abraham J. Verduzco
as Paulito (age 7)
Grace Morley
as JD's Friend
Vic Trevino
as Cheetah
Robby Robinson
as Drug Thief
Guillermo Perez
as Willie-Vato
Dennis Ryan Sacco
as Paulito (age 11)
Michael A. Shaner
as Tony Scagnelli Jr.
Tom S. Ventimiglia
as Segregation Guard
William Fetzer
as Processing Guard
Thomas Richard Gorman III
as Processing Guard
George Padilla
as Mundo's Attorney
Jacob Vargas
as Paulito (age 15)
Daniel Lujan
as Mico (age 9)
Rodney Rincon
as Shoe Salesman
John A. Rangel
as Neto (age 15)
Robert Pucci
as Bodyguard
Tony Giorgio
as Don Antonio Scagnelli
Manny Perry
as Arthur J.
Bennie Moore
as Ronnie Little
Alex Brown
as Eddie Johnson
Gerald L. Walker
as BGF Member
Anna Lizarraga
as Julie's Mother
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Critic Reviews for American Me

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (2)

Throughout, Olmos dominates the film with an impassive, yet inwardly tormented performance as he wears the implacable mask of power.

Apr 24, 2018 | Full Review…

The film's intent to serve as a cautionary tale is admirable, but Olmos acts better than he directs, and the film is shapeless and disjointed. .

Feb 12, 2007 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Worth seeing for Olmos' performance alone.

Jul 25, 2002 | Rating: 3.5/5

Audience Reviews for American Me

Although there's a stumble on a believable performance from the supporting cast and transitions, the film is an intimidating and pulse-pounding force of truth. American Me's hard-hitting exploitation and direction/production/performance from Olmos carries the film as an ominous and exceptional reality check. 4/5

Eugene Bernabe
Eugene Bernabe

Super Reviewer

This one could have easily been titled Mexican-American History X. It's a little less polished but every bit as captivating.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Gut-wrenching, brutal, and powerful, American Me is not enjoyable in the conventional sense, but stands out as one of the most impressive purely dramatic offerings. It's a story of violence and its dehumanizing consequences that, in some ways, is reminiscent of The Godfather, with characters that echo those from the Puzo/Ford-Coppola epic. Director Edward James Olmos fearlessly takes aim at the culture of machismo which has enveloped so many inner city youths. This is an unrelenting condemnation of that lifestyle, a portrait of the sort of brutality that violence begets. In my opinion, one of the very few "gang" films that seemed to get it right and doesn't try to glorify the lifestyle, but instead show consequences. Photobucket

El Hombre Invisible
El Hombre Invisible

Super Reviewer

"American Me" is arguably the most significant film not discussed in the same breath with crime epics such as "The Godfather." It was clearly made, both consciously and perhaps subconsciously to be the Mexican Godfather film and that is hardly a bad thing. Its honesty regarding the emotional costs of violence and murder are on par with that film. I don't know what to say to anyone who critiques Edward James Olmos. First, this actor's capacity to convey a complicated range of emotions without words is absolutely staggering and has been seen to great effect in many great films including "Blade Runner." Additionally, he is inarguably the premiere Latino / Chicano filmmaker and actor of all time. If you look at the films he has been involved with, think about how they have dominated the way Hispanic people, Mexicans in particular, have been seen by others who would, largely, not even know of the experiences of their neighbors. "American Me" is so unflinching that, after seeing it, I had to see it again to believe it was actually made by or released by a major studio. Once upon a time studio films featured honest portraits of life but rarely any more. "American Me" tho hardly the knee-slapping comedy some reviewer wanted or expected, conveys an honest sense of the life lived by many without the hope of education or prosperity but with the same need for respect and something bigger than themselves to believe in that you or anyone else has and lives their life by. If you want to see a life perhaps very different than yours depicted with uncommon honesty, watch this film.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

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