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103 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mobster Masterpiece Worth Watching Over and Over Again
Based on a true story that is so amazing and shocking, "Donnie Brasco" is a fantastic film that hooks you from start to finish. With stars like Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Michael Madsen, and many more, this is a movie that should be seen by all.
FBI Joseph D. Pistone is an undercover agent who's goal is to get into the violent and unpredictable mob world. He...
Published on January 4, 2003 by Michael Crane

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining
This is one of the more entertaining films in its genre. The teaming of Johnny Depp and Al Pacino was a brilliant stroke, and both deliver outstanding performances. Michael Madsen also gives a noteworthy performance as Sonny Black, the capo who very nearly inducted Pistone into the Bonnano crime family. Those who have read the book will notice that there are quite a...
Published on March 20, 2006 by Just Another Opinion


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103 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mobster Masterpiece Worth Watching Over and Over Again, January 4, 2003
By 
Michael Crane (Orland Park, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Donnie Brasco (Special Edition) (DVD)
Based on a true story that is so amazing and shocking, "Donnie Brasco" is a fantastic film that hooks you from start to finish. With stars like Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Michael Madsen, and many more, this is a movie that should be seen by all.
FBI Joseph D. Pistone is an undercover agent who's goal is to get into the violent and unpredictable mob world. He goes the by name of Donnie Brasco. Soon he is discovered by Lefty Ruggiero, who sees potential in the kid, not aware of who Brasco really is. He brings him into the family and the world of the Mafia. It doesn't take long for Joseph to get so deep into the action that he starts to become one of them. This unforgettable picture shows us that sometimes you can become what you chase if you're in too long, and that in order to catch a monster you may become one yourself in the process.
I became addicted to this film in no time. It's one of my favorites that I have seen over and over again, and it hasn't gotten old yet. The acting and directing is all fantastic. Al Pacino really shines, as always, and Johnny Depp gives an Academy Award performance as the FBI agent. He actually spent time with the real Joseph Pistone to get his character down, as he did when he was working on "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." Michael Madsen is also terrific and can once again send chills down our spines just as he did in "Reservoir Dogs."
This new special edition of the DVD is much, MUCH better than the original. First off, the sound and picture quality has really improved. Especially the picture; it looks a lot better than the first version that came out. There are also a lot of extras, including features such as director's commentary, and exclusive featurette, the original featurette, deleted scenes, trailers, and more. The featurettes are very interesting and makes the DVD that much more special. A very high quality special edition, if you ask me.
All in all, "Donnie Brasco" is an outstanding picture on all fronts. Filled with drama and suspense, this is a film that will take you deep into the world of the Mafia. The only question is how far would you go? And would you risk becoming one of them when it's all said and done? Excellent all the way!
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep masterpiece on crime fighting., June 8, 2008
None of us knows what it's really like to go undercover. We think we do but we don't. Sure, we've watched the movies, read the books and all but what it's doing to your soul, your family life, everything, that it destroys all you have and feel, that is what this movie is about.
When Lefty (Al Pacino as a low level mobster) takes in Donnie (Johnny Depp as an undercover FBI agent) he tells him "Wiseguys are always right. Even when they're wrong they're right," he is wrong. Dead wrong. He just doesn't know it yet.
Lefty treats Donnie as a son and Donnie gets emotionally involved. In his own way Lefty has a big heart, his hopes and dreams. But the dirt gets in the way and they don't materialize.
Bit by bit both Lefty's and Donnie's lives derail. Donnie starts losing his wife and kids and Lefty his rank in the (crime)family.
Can they do anything to save what's left? Do they want to and if so, what is more important, life as it was, friendship or the uncertain future? Does risking everything justify the costs?
Based on a true story this marvelous film shows the dirt as it is. Forget about the romance of other mobster movies and enter loyalty and misery. Both Al Pacino and Johnny Depp give larger than life performances. The supporting cast is terrific as is the directing. The 70s style indoor lighting helps turn it into a timeless masterpiece.
The Blu-ray disc is sharp as can be. This one should be in your collection.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Donnie Brasco - A true mafia masterpiece!, October 24, 2003
By 
K. Wyatt "ssintrepid" (Cape Girardeau, MO United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Donnie Brasco (Special Edition) (DVD)
"Donnie Brasco" is a true mafia masterpiece and what is more interesting about it is that it is based on an amazing true story. This is the true story of FBI undercover agent Joseph D. Pistone, who when faced with the task of infiltrating a New York City "family," he not only does that, but he did it with perfection. As you will soon learn with this movie, FBI undercover agent Joseph Pistone infiltrated and stayed within this "family" for six years and if it weren't for his superiors' intervention he would've stayed with them even longer, as he was within months of becoming a "made" wise guy when he was brought out.
"Donnie Brasco" represents a sort of coming out for Johnny Depp in that this was really his first adult dramatic role that didn't portray him as a teenager or something in the Science Fiction range. He truly deserves all of the accolades that he earned for this role. Al Pacino's performance was superior for this movie. In so many movies he's made, he's played pretty much the same guy with a different name, this is not the case with his role in "Donnie Brasco," he truly became the character he was playing. This was an Oscar winning performance on his part, the only missing part was the actual best supporting Oscar. The performances by Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby, Anne Heche and all of the other actors in this outstanding film all served beautifully in making this film the true silver screen masterpiece that it is.
It's kind of odd that British director Mike Newell of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" fame would get the directing nod for "Donnie Brasco" but in the end, it worked out perfectly and he deserves a great amount of credit for the "style" and "atmosphere" of this film. The score for "Donnie Brasco" plays perfectly with every scene of the film, serving to enhance the story.
The premise:
FBI undercover agent Joseph D. Pistone is tasked with the mission to infiltrate Lefty Ruggiero's (Al Pacino) mob family. Posing as a jewel broker Donnie Brasco, Agent Pistone does this with apparent ease. He soon learns that this will not be a quick task to complete and his six year run begins, jeopardizing his family, his career and his life as he becomes so intertwined with this crime family and starts to care about his mob "mentor" Lefty, whose life will become forfeit when the truth is revealed.
For any fan of the "mob" movie genre, I highly recommend this film as it gives a perfect look at the mob lifestyle and it easily ranks up there with many of the famous mob movies. This movie will certainly bear multiple viewings. {ssintrepid}
Special Features:
- Director's Commentary
- Exclusive Featurette "Donnie Brasco: Out from the Shadows"
- Original Featurette
- Deleted Scenes with or without commentary
- Isolated Music Score
- Theatrical trailers
- Talent Files
- Production notes
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Based on a true story...., January 11, 2002
By 
Joe J Barclay (Chula Vista, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Donnie Brasco (Special Edition) (DVD)
Working undercover as a jewel dealer Joe Pistone (Johnny Depp) earns the trust of Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino). Lefty vouches for Joe and brings him into his mob family. What was supposed to be a three-month assignment for Joe turns into several years. Joe begins to drift away from his own family and deep into the mob. He and Lefty form a strong bond and a father son relationship. When the investigation is coming to an end Joe realizes that his only way out of the mob is to betray his friend.
The film is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. It is a very nice transfer the only flaw I noticed was a hint of grain occasionally. A Dolby Digital 5.0 audio track is provided. The surround speakers are hardly used. When they are its mostly only for music. With a movie like this that is mostly dialogue its understandable. This special edition DVD has several extras. The highlights are a director's commentary, two featurettes, deleted scenes and trailers. The featurette titled "Donnie Brasco: Out of the Shadows" was excellent. It gives a lot of background on the film and contains several interviews with the cast and crew. The deleted scenes are nice to see but I can understand why they were cut from the film.
For those of you thinking this is just another mob movie, you are wrong. Instead of showing the top of the crime family tree like many other films this one shows the bottom. It shows soldiers that are scraping at the bottom of the barrel and are just trying to make ends meet. This is a film that stands on its own on many levels. It was perfectly cast with Johnny Depp, Al Pacino, Michael Madsen and Anne Heche. If you like mob movies or just fine acting this is one film you need to see.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "WHEN THERE IS WORK TO BE DONE.... CALL LEFTY" EVEN THE GODFATHER HIMSELF WAS INTIMIDATED.............., January 31, 2007
This review is from: Donnie Brasco (Special Edition) (DVD)
Filmed entirely in NYC and some in N.J. "Donnie Brasco" is one suspensful realistic gangster film. Excellent classical soundtrack by composer Patrick Doyle. Great acting from Al Pacino and Johnny Depp portraying real life gangster Benjamin Ruggierio, and N.Y.P.D. officer Joeseph D. Pistone. I swear at times watching this movie Pacino and Depp were the charachters and forgot that these superstar actors were acting. The late Bruno Kirby plays an excellent but lovable gangster. Mike Madsen plays a tough authentic, believable Boss Sonny Black. The story for "Donnie Brasco" was taken from the real eyewitness, and experiences of former cop Joe D. Pistone. From what I've read, and from what I've seen on tv documentaries on the real "Donnie Brasco", this movie is portrayed as close to the eyewitness accounts and experiences of Joseph D. Pistone as possibly could be portrayed. Director Mike Newell did an incredible job not only directing, but going to the real Little Italy in Manhatten and speaking to real life gangsters to get a real feel of the life that real mobsters lead. Newell really did his research on Donnie Brasco, as the result is one fine realistic gangster movie. Believe me there is nothing Hollywwood about this gangster movie. "Donnie Brasco" may not be as good as "The Godfather" movies or "Goodfellas" but as I will tell you, it is more authentic than any of the afore mentioned movies. Donnie Brasco is gory at times. There is a scene were Donnie (officer Joe D. Pistone) was forced to cut up dead human bodies to get rid of the evidence. During this time, when the real Joseph D. Pistone was undercover (1976-1981) real gangsters in NYC were performing these horrible acts. During these times real life gangsters like Roy Demeo and his Gang were performing these violent acts at will and made quite a name for themselves in La Cosa Nostra. Even the N.Y.C. Godfather himself Paul Castellano was very intimidated by the likes of Roy Demeo and his savage gang. Castellano although intimidated, tolerated Demeo for his awesome earning rackets. "Donnie Brasco" brings this horrific gangster act to life as well as the illegal money rackets going on at this time. Director Mike Newell read up on Roy Demeo and his Gang and brought their actions to the screen and left Hollywood make believe far behind. All I can say is watching "Donnie Brasco" made me see the guts undercover officer Joseph D. Pistone had. It really took a special person to do what Joe did. For all his troubles, all Pistone got was a $500.00 check, a medal and a several year stay in the Witness Protection Program. Joe D. Pistone lives in annomity today as there is still a price on his head. "Donnie Brasco" is highly recommended viewing as it is portrayed realistically and authentically. Director Mike Newell definintly left the hollywood gangster out of this film........
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glad I Rented this Movie Last Night!, January 31, 2004
By 
Monkdude (Hampton, Virginia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Donnie Brasco (Special Edition) (DVD)
I have been wanting to see this movie for what seems like years now, due to the fact I love Mob movies and Johnny Depp's acting ability in any film he does. This is one of Johnny Depps first Big leading roles in a film and he holds up even against the great Al Pacino. Speaking of Al Pacino..he should easily have been nominated for a Oscar for his portrayal of Lefty, but more times than not the Oscar Academy has no clue what great acting is (Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York should have won last year no questions asked!). Michael Madsen is always a fun actor to watch on screen and this is one of his best performances. Anne Heche really impressed me with her acting as well and she actually looked kinda hot. The last scene in this film featuring Al Pacino opening a drawer, putting in a few precious items, closing it, only to open it again and leave it ajar a few moments later is truly powerful because of what it implies. This film may not be as great as Goodfellas, but it is one you can mention in the same sentence and not feel guilty about it. Tired of renting bad movies that look interesting because of the cool covers on the dvd, fuggetaboutit, rent or buy Donnie Brasco and go home happy.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You go in alive, you come out dead. ", May 24, 2000
By 
This review is from: Donnie Brasco (DVD)
The title of this review is a phrase said by one Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggerro. In the same way some war veterans talk of nothing but their heroics, struggles and the mechanics of their war, Lefty is obsessed with the mythology of the mafia. Toobad for him he is less a Godfather and more of a small fish on the mafia foodchain. The rest of that phrase is "...and its your best friend that does it." Donnie Brasco tells the story of undercover agent Joe Pistone's (Johnny Deppy) ifilteration of the mob in 1978. He introduces himself as "Don the jeweller". He immediately gains the respect and love of Lefty (Al Pacino), and he is presented to the rest of the crew as a "a friend of Lefty's". You see, if he is a "friend of Lefty's" that means he is a connected guy, if he were a "friend of ours" that would make him a made guy.
Donnie Brasco will not disappoint fans of the genre, it has all the mob talk, the back alley butcherings and the tense stand offs. But what makes the film the masterpiece that it is, the warm and brilliantly acted and realised central relationship between Donnie/Joe and Lefty. I read an interview with director Mike Newel where he called the film "a love story", and that is absolutely right.
People often accuse Al Pacino of hamming it up and going for an autopilot "whoa" performance in many of his films, like his Satan in The Devil's Advocate. Nevermind the fact that Pacino's autopilot is more gripping then most actors' most vivid characterisation, his performance in Donnie Brasco is arguably his best. As Lefty Ruggerro he is both heartbreaking and frightening, ruthless and all too human. He delivers his lines with is patented fiery intensity, but this time he lets you know he's bluffing, that he' can't back up that big mouth of his. He shines in two particular scenes, one in the hospital and the other is final haunting scene. I will not describe them here. See them for yourself.
Donnie Brasco was released in the spring of 1997, and since the Academy has a pathetically short memory, the film only managed one Oscar nomination which was for Paul Attanasio screen adaptation. When they ignored Pacino's performance here, that is when they completely lost credibility with me.
Is Donnie Brasco one of the best gangster pictures ever made? Fuggedaboutit (in the positive sense of the phrase). It deserves to sit at the same table and have coffee on the house with the masterpiece of the genre, Goodfellas.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of the nineties!, February 11, 2000
By 
G. Shkodra (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Donnie Brasco (DVD)
This is not just yet another mobster movie; it certainly is one of the best of the genre. I haven't read the book but I found this movie so real and intense. I'm not going to write anything about Pacino since we're all used to his magnificient performances every time he's onscreen or on stage; it's certainly Johny Depp who gives the best performance in this movie, but I'd not like to forget Madsen who is simply fascinating (can a mobster be?). I've seen this movie so many times and after all these years I still enjoy it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, great bluray, not so great extended cut, October 31, 2009
By 
Michael Wide (Stockholm, Sweden) - See all my reviews
Many reviews here seem to be only about the movie, not about the specific edition on bluray, so I thought I add a few comments on it. I've seen "Donnie Brasco" some twenty-odd times, so I was excited to get it on bluray. My impression? Well, the technical quality is really great: the picture is very much better than on the very good regular dvd's for sale (and the sound too, I guess, but I use headphones so I don't really know). The "extended cut", however, was a bit of a disappointment (note: at approx. 145 minutes, this version contains far more extra scenes than earlier versions). Only one or two instances of added material really added something to the story or movie as a whole, to my mind: most of it actually detracted from my experience of the movie - and not only because I'm so habituated to the regular version, I think. Still, even so it's a great gangster and psychological drama, with great acting: but if you already have the "Special edition" with the director's commentary etc (not included in the meagre extras on this bluray edition), you might want to wait for a new bluray release with the original cut. Trust me, sometimes less is really more.

Addition: I noticed now the same "extended cut" is apparently available on regular dvd too, so if you've seen that one you know what the problem is - the additions don't really add anything, but only disturb the careful pace and rhythm of the original version (and there is way too much lion...)
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SENSATIONAL MOB FLICK...GRIM AND GRITTY..., March 26, 2007
This griity and grim mob flick, deftly directed by Mike Newell, is based upon the true story of FBI undercover, Joe Pistone, who. as his alter ego "Donnie Brasco", infiltrated the mob for a number of years, resulting in its eventual decimation. So artfully did the real Joe Pistone infiltrate and so well did he do his job, that he and his family were obliged to enter the witness protection program for their safety, as a contract was ultimately put out on Joe Pistone's life.

Here, Johnny Depp, plays the role of Joe Pistone/Donnie Brasco. He is terrific in the role, and the viewer watches him become absorbed by the lifestyle of the mobsters with whom he associates. He is befriended by "Lefty" Ruggierro, artfully played Al Pacino. Shifty and

common, "Lefty" typifies your low level made guy, the guy on the fringes doing the dirty work, a real bottom feeder. He is the guy who does the hits, and he is the guy the higher ups look to whack when something goes wrong. It is not an enviable or glamourous life, as has been made out by other films, such as the "Godfather" and "Goodfellas". The existence of "Lefty" and the legions like him is gritty and grim, always a bridesmaid and never a bride.

"Lefty" takes Brasco under his wing and vouches for him. He shows Brasco the ABCs of becoming a "made" guy. "Lefty" himself wants to move up in the mob hierarchy. It soon becomes painfully obvious that that ain't gonna happen. One cannot help feel a little sorry for "Lefty", so limited is his world view and so at the mercy of others. Still, "Lefty" gives Donnie some invaluable lessons on mob etiquette. He also unburdens himself to Donnie, treating him as if he were his adopted son. The bond between the two men grows. As this happens, Donnie finds himself being pulled more and more into the world of mobsters, until his old and new reality begin to merge.

As he distances himself drom his wife (Anne Heche) and family, Brasco is thrust into a maelstrom of mob violence that threatens to tear him apart and consume him. He tries to get "Lefty" to go straight and retire, in hope of avoiding his betrayal. It is to no avail. Brasco, in for a penny, in for a pound, now stands to become a "made" guy himself. It is only at the eleventh hour that an intervention set up by the FBI plays itself out, setting up the betrayal of "Lefty". It is a sad moment for Brasco, as he knows that "Lefty" has just been handed a death sentence at the hands of the mob for vouching for an FBI agent. It is Brasco's ultimate salvation, however, as he was on the brink of committing an unpardonable act, one in which he would have crossed the line and from which there would have been no turning back. It is a decision that was, luckily for him, taken out of his hands.

Al Pacino gives the defining, superlative performance in this film. Anne Heche is sensational as the put upon, concerned wife, who watches her husband change into someone she can barely recognize. Johnny Depp, likewise, gives a stellar performance as the angst ridden FBI undercover agent. All in all, a terrific film with a stellar cast and well worth having in one's collection.
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Donnie Brasco (Special Edition)
Donnie Brasco (Special Edition) by Mike Newell (DVD - 2000)
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