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The Mambo Kings (1992)

Armand Assante , Antonio Banderas , Arne Glimcher  |  R |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Armand Assante, Antonio Banderas, Cathy Moriarty, Maruschka Detmers, Pablo Calogero
  • Directors: Arne Glimcher
  • Writers: Cynthia Cidre, Oscar Hijuelos
  • Producers: Arne Glimcher, Anna Reinhardt, Arnon Milchan, Jack B. Bernstein, Steven Reuther
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 16, 2005
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009S4IGU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,390 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Mambo Kings" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Unrated version of film, with one additional scene & a remastered soundtrack
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Theatrical trailer

Editorial Reviews

Additional Features

Hardly the "unrated edition" as advertised, the DVD debut of this hot-blooded film delivers one additional scene: a pivotal bit with Armand Assante and Cathy Moriarty's characters late in the film. As director Arne Glimcher dishes in his commentary, the scene was a little rough for test audiences, but is good to have included now. Glimcher mentions too often the obvious character development but does has some curious tales, including how the film was nearly a vehicle for Jeremy Irons and Ray Liotta (ponder that one for a minute). Best of all, the film looks and sounds marvelous. --Doug Thomas

Product Description

In the 1950s, two Cuban brothers come to America to seek fame and fortune as musicians.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CUANDO SALI DE CUBA... September 20, 2003
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this film, based upon the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love" by Oscar Hijuelos. With its sexy, pulsating, and rhythmic soundtrack, as well as the strong performances by the entire cast, this film is highly entertaining.
The events in this sharply stylized period film take place in the nineteen fifties, at the height of the mambo dance craze. Two young Cuban musicians, brothers Cesar (Armand Assante) and Nestor Castillo (Antonio Banderas), flee Cuba after a love triangle takes a potentially deadly twist. The love sick Nestor leaves behind the love of his life, the beautiful Maria Rivera (Talisa Soto), now married to his romantic rival.
The brothers arrive in New York, where Cesar meets the lushly sensuous, blonde bombshell, Lana Lake (Cathy Moriarty). They eventually marry, while Nestor, still carrying a torch for Maria, meets the sedate and quietly pretty Delores Fuentes (Maruschka Detmers), whom he eventually marries. Given a helping hand by fellow Cuban, Desi Arnaz, Sr. (Desi Arnaz, Jr.), Cesar and Nestor shortly become stars of the dance halls and clubs they play, where they are christened the "Mambo Kings".
Unfortunately, Cesar's dreams are not necessarily Nestor's dreams and conflicts arise. The brothers also run into trouble when Cesar's arrogance pits him against a musical syndicate that rules the clubs and dance halls with an iron hand, derailing their careers for a time. Moreover, Nestor's marriage is seriously troubled, because of his obsession with his lost love. Still, no matter what, there is always the music.
Armand Assante gives an over-the-top, manic performance as Cesar, the older brother whose arrogance and single-minded ambition nearly alienates his brother.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Definitely on my top 10. The Mambo Kings has several things that make it an all time favorite. First, it uses the medium to pull you in an give you the feeling you are part of the moment. The sets, costumes, cars, and music are detailed to perfection. Especially the music! Cameo's by the great singers of Cuban music make it real. Celia Cruz and the late Tito Puente are awesome! The theme song is beautiful and nothing less than haunting. Check out fantastic soundtrack.
Second, the plot takes some unique twists and turns. The relationship between two brother seems formulaic at the beginning and then both characters acquire unexpected depth and traits. I believe that both Antonio Banderas (this was his first Hollywood film) and Armand Assante give their best performances to date.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
Ok, so Armand Assante's cuban "accent" isn't exactley convincing and the sparks between Dolores (Antonio's wife) and Cesar go nowhere, BUT, the music, dancing and THOSE GUYS are AWESOME!!! This continues to be one of my very favorite movies. The story is simple and predictable and that's okay because it's so much fun. There are some creative bits thrown in that make the familiarity of story just a bit different and the music is really phenominal-I want to get up and dance everytime I see it!
The book definitely should be read, but AFTER seeing the movie-it's darker and will detract from the fun of the film. Oh, by the way, Antonio has NEVER looked better!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as the book August 18, 2004
Based on the first half of Oscar Hijuelos' novel "The Mambo Kings Play Songs Of Love", it's one of the rare exceptions to the rule that movies adaptations of novels can never rise to the quality of the source material.

To this day, I cannot figure out why Armand Assante never received any props for this film whatsoever. Though not of Cuban descent, he's perfectly cast as the arrogant and hot-blooded Cesar Castillo. Antonio Banderas' first English film role doesn't do his career any harm; though he only learned the script phonetically, you won't notice the difference.

The other star of this film has to be the music; one of the best soundtracks of the 90s hands down, with music by Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Beny More, and Machito, this is a great Cuban music sampler.

If the ending of the film seems incomplete and/or rushed, it's because it ends right about halfway through the novel (the second half documents Cesar's latter years). But believe me you can't go wrong with this movie. Anybody who doesn't feel the beat of this film pounding through their veins is dead.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Assante is AMAZING April 13, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Enough about his co-star, Assante steals the film. I have seen the film well over 30 times, and words cannot begin to descibe how powerful The Mambo Kings is. Assante is a film God in his role as Ceasar Castillo - this part could not have been played by anyone else. The movie jerks you back to a time when life was simpler, familial ties were golden, and music was all that mattered. A must see for anyone who enjoys Latin music and longs for the days of Big Band, Rhumba, and Cha-Cha. Guest appearances by Cruz and Puente are the magic touch. I'm not Latin, nor was I alive during this era - but The Mambo Kings made me wish I were both. Kudos to Assante - He is "the last Coca-Cola in the desert" !
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loosely Based On The Hijuelos Novel October 23, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Oscar Hijuelos' great novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs Of Love forms the basis for this film although the movie version stops about halfway through Hijuelos' story largely ignoring the tragic second half of Cesar Castillo's life without his brother.

The brothers are played by Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas and both are extraordinarily well cast. Assante conveys the more hedonistic Cesar with greaat intensity and Banderas actually steals the film with a remarkable performance as the more sensitve brother Nestor.

Fine casting, including a fairly strong performance by the late Celia Cruz makes this movie a pleasure to watch. Marusckha Detmers plays Nestor's wife Dolores and while she looks great she poses more effectively than she acts.

Overall this is a fine entertaining film and while the plot is derived from the novel in order to translate it to the screen some obvious liberties were taken with the story that frankly do not detract much from the enjoyment of a film that stands on it's own merit.

The backdrop of 1950's Mambo-crazed NYC is also very cool and well done.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great! love the movie
Published 11 days ago by judith martinez
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mambo Kings - 1992
Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas portray brothers, Cesar and Nestor Castillo, who are "The Mambo Kings. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Chris B
5.0 out of 5 stars Hay Mambo!
Not the greatest story but acting is superb by Antonio Banderas (his first movie made here and he could barely speak English) and Armand Asante. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Cake
5.0 out of 5 stars Yummy Latin Flavor
One of my top 10 favorite films of all time.
This wonder of cinema, not widely known, is a gem.
Cinematography and sets are visually engaging. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Nishuva
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent movie
Any movie that has Desi Arnaz Jr in it is always going to be good. Incredible movie!! Many many stars"
Published 3 months ago by JULI
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites!
Excellent!.... Never get tired of this movie. Music, acting and story is heart touching. I would more definitely recommend it.
Published 4 months ago by Margarita Vlad
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
This is one of my all time favorite movies. I think it has to do with the place and the timing.
Published 4 months ago by Monica Brown
3.0 out of 5 stars it was ok
it was just ok. What I liked was that it featured depictions of Cuban/Cuban Americans true to their rainbow of skin tones. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Language Lady
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mambo Kings Play Love Songs
Terrific film. It captured the flavor of the Cuban rhythms and Armand Assante should have at least had an Oscar nomination for his role. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sherry
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad but awesome movie.
One of the best musicals you will see tragedy and triumph, love and family, it's all in there and more great music.
Published 6 months ago by Martin T. Galindo
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