The Mambo Kings (1992) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Mambo Kings (1992)

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Movie Info

Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Oscar Hijuelos, The Mambo Kings are brothers Cesar (Armand Assante) and Nestor Castillo (Antonio Banderas), Cuban musicians who immigrate to New York City to find fame and fortune in 1950s America. After hitting it big on the nightclub circuit, the duo scores a huge chart hit with "Beautiful Maria of My Soul," a song penned by the sensitive Nestor in an attempt to exorcise the spirit of the woman who broke his heart. The hit captures the attention of the patron saint of Cuban musicians, Desi Arnaz (played by his son Desi Jr.), who enlists the Castillos to appear on his I Love Lucy television program. As quickly as the Mambo Kings' star rose, however, it begins to fall; they never again achieve the kind of attention lavished on them following their TV appearance. The doomed Nestor marries a woman named Delores (Maruschka Detmers), but can never shake his love for Maria; compulsive womanizer Cesar loves Delores himself, while his arrogance continually alienates key figures in the star-making machinery.

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Cast

Armand Assante
as Cesar Castillo
Antonio Banderas
as Nestor Castillo
Desi Arnaz Jr.
as Desi Arnaz Sr.
Celia Cruz
as Evalina
Tito Puente
as Himself
Roscoe Lee Browne
as Fernando Perez
Ahn Duong
as Ismelda Perez
Helena Carroll
as Mrs Shannon
John Herrera
as Luis Fajardo
Vitamin C
as Redhead on Bus
Joe Conzo
as Killer
Miller P.
as Killer's Girlfriend
Doug Barron
as Mike Wells
Jose Alberto
as Johnny Casanova
Frank Grillo
as Machito
Ron Thompson
as Empire MC
June Brown
as Portly Woman
Valerie McIntosh
as Tracy Blair
Jonathan Del Arco
as Young Cesar
Salvador Miranda
as Young Nestor
Rene Monteaqudo
as Robertico
Ryan Howell
as Kid with Basketball
Dawn McKinster
as Poolside Patron
Julie Pinson
as 2nd Girlfriend
Cynthia Santos
as Mario's Girlfriend
Susie Stillwell
as Club Patron
Maiquel Saurez
as Cleaning Lady
Natalie Zimmerman
as 3rd Girlfriend
Debra Scott
as Enchantment
Scott Cohen
as Bernardito
Pete MacNamara
as Johnny Bing
J.T. Taylor
as Frankie Suarez
James Medina
as Manny - The Mambo Kings Band
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Critic Reviews for The Mambo Kings

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (7)

A spirited evocation of the mambo craze which swept post-war America, adapted from Oscar Hijuelos' Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It's as if there were a terrible telephone connection between the film's vivid sound track and its tepid romantic melodrama, to which the music is supposed to give style and substance.

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

A corny, eye-filling concoction of sound and strife, it recalls the heyday of a dance craze with the Technicolor splash of a 1950s musical.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

"The Mambo Kings" is so pumped up with life it threatens to burst. It's beautifully filmed and flashily edited. It pulsates with rhythmic ecstasy. It throbs, it sweats, it pounds, it undulates.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

In some ways this story is as old as the movies, but "The Mambo Kings" is so filled with energy, passion and heedless vitality that it seems new, anyway.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

The Mambo Kings is a tinsel-edged dream of a movie.

Full Review… | February 28, 1992
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Mambo Kings

The first movie that introduced me to Mambo. The spirit of Mambo music drove this film from beginning to end. Strong acting, compelling love story, and soundtrack made this film one of my top films of 1992. Great movie with well respected acting make this one to watch. Rent or buy! You wont be disappointed.

Lee Chabarria
Lee Chabarria
½

I Loved the Music in this, & I must admit, I had such a Crush on Armand Assante for awhile after this Film

Marilee Aschwanden
Marilee Aschwanden

This movie and its music instantly grabbed ahold of me. It tells of two Cuban brothers whose dream is to open their own Latin club. Led by a young Antonio Banderas and Armand Assante, this film is full of emotion.

Jamison R
Jamison R

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