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It's simultaneously disgusting and compelling, especially since Corben has a knack for matching swift editing to the pulsing score by TV's original Miami Vice composer Jan Hammer. In the final analysis, it must be said that Cocaine Cowboys succeeds as a brash and breathtaking record of a bygone era, when murder rates were at an all-time high, coke was everywhere, and Miami was financially transformed into a nightlife mecca where criminals were kings. Or queens, as in the case of Griselda Blanco, the ruthless and self-appointed "Godmother" of the cocaine trade, who was responsible for countless murders and as of 2007 remained at large, her whereabouts unknown. All of this deadly life in the fast lane makes for a fascinating movie, but Corben and coproducer David Cypkin's breathless commentary makes it clear that they're young, immature thrill-seekers, and their film makes no apologies for glorifying the drug trade while exploring its bloody and frequently fatal consequences. Their commentary also accompanies an abundance of deleted scenes, and there's also a bonus featurette, "Hustlin' with the Godmother," in which Griselda Blanco's former lover and big-time coke dealer Charles Cosby tells his story, which clearly has all the makings of a Hollywood movie along the lines of Blow. You can bet that film will eventually be made, and don't be surprised if it's Corben who makes it. --Jeff Shannon
- Commentary by director Billy Corben and co-producer David Cypkin
- Deleted scenes with commentary
- "Hustlin' with the Godmother: The Charles Cosby Story"
- Sneak Peak at Mr. Untouchable
Top Customer Reviews
It does drag in parts, and could have been told in a more streamlined fashion. Even at 2-hours on length, the DVD has another two dozen deleted scenes, for anyone who wants more time with the men on the street. Anyone who enjoyed Scarface or Blow needs to pick this one up, as does any armchair economic historian.
By contrast, I strongly suspect this film would be far more useful to anyone genuinely seeking instruction in such matters. It documents what went on inside the Miami drug trade in exquisite and unflinching detail - at least during the "Miami Vice" era of the 1970's through to about the mid 80's. The fast pace of the film not only makes for great storytelling: it also means an incredible amount of information is packed into a relatively short time-frame. As a result, this is a work that easily withstands repeated viewing. Indeed, it virtually demands it.
Cocaine Cowboys has been criticized as being exploitative, and as lacking in real analysis of the wider social impacts. Surprisingly, such criticisms appear even in the product description here on Amazon. Personally, I don't think either criticism is fair. It is true that parents need to be aware that the R rating is there for a reason. Many extremely brutal still-shots in particular appear in this film. It does not skimp on the graphic reality of what happens when you shoot and kill people. But for the adult audience for which it is intended, the film is no more gruesome than it needs to be to honestly portray the events with which it is concerned. Nor more redolent with excess than to portray with equal honesty the milieu in which they occurred.
As for the lack of analysis, that's like criticizing a horse for not being a camel.Read more ›
Daily you would wake up, turn on the radio and get the body count: 3 men found in the trunk of a burning car; or a headless corpse found floating in a canal; or 4 men killed in a parking lot shootout, 2 civilians wounded in the crossfire. This was followed by an ad for Lanson's, a high end men's clothier, advertising a bullet proof men's dinner jacket, "What the best dressed Miamian is wearing." Driving down the Dixie Hwy. in Miami, you see a bus stop bench with an ad on the back: "Protectar usted y su familia" punctuated with images of an automatic pistol and a machine gun and an address on Flagler St. where you can pick yours up.
The movie speaks for itself just like "Scarface". I have no doubt the individual narratives are accurate and non-hyperbolic. The movie does credit the cocaine "business" with cash infusion into the area and the resulting uplift of the overall economy. However, it omits the psychological impact on ordinary citizens, who saw little of the cocaine bucks: fear of getting caught in a crossfire and the depression of living in a combat zone.Read more ›
A documentary that details the inception of the cocaine drug trade in America from the early 1970's when Columbian dealers dropped a few "suprise" kilos in bags of marijuana which was easily smuggled in via boats to the Reagan Era which spent millions "controlling" the drug trade in South Florida. "Cocaine Cowboys" presents an interesting perspective on the economy of the 1970's and what kept Miami afloat. Director Billy Corben tells the story of a Miami skyline built not of bricks and steel, but bricks of cocaine via interviews with some interesting smugglers, assasins, dealers, Ford models, and newscasters.
According to the film, in the 1970's marijuana was easily smuggled into South Florida. People openly off-loaded bales of marijuana from sail boats on public docks without interference. According to dealers in the film, in the 1970's cocaine was only used by medical professionals who could afford the several hundred dollars a gram price tag. Eventually the Columbian cartels found smugglers willing to import the drug and used Cuban distributors which made the drug readily available for everyone. The drug was first used by low-lifes-Castro refugees set free after he opened his prisons-and worked it's way up the ladder to become a party drug for all echelons of society.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This could have easily been a 5-star documentary. It is extremely informative and quite mesmerizing while documenting the depth of the cocaine wars of the 70s, 80s, 90s and its... Read morePublished 2 months ago by R. K.