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The Mambo Kings
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Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
- Unrated version of film, with one additional scene & a remastered soundtrack
- Behind-the-scenes featurette
- Theatrical trailer
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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!
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Enjoyed this movie when it was first released.......remembered it and decided to purchase it. It's till a great movie. Enjoy
the music and the actors.
I love this movie! The music is so amazing. Antonio Banderas at his finest! Armand Assante has amazing range in this movie. Thanks Amazon!Published 4 months ago by Anna Medina
I have loved this movie since seeing it many years ago. The acting is great and the storyline is excellent; the music is phenomenal!!Published 4 months ago by Toni Johnson
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