Director Ridley Scott's recent take on the classic gangster drama pits entrepreneurial drug kingpin Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) against honest cop Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) in a timeless morality play set in the era of the Vietnam War. Loosely based on a true story, the film shows how Frank Lucas rose to the top of the New York narcotics game by importing pure heroin directly from Southeast Asia, using U.S. military planes for transport.
An oft-overlooked gem from the writing/producing/directing team of brothers Joel and Ethan Coen (There Will Be Blood, Fargo, The Big Lebowski) Miller's Crossing is a recent classic of the film noir genre. The picture's setting—a violent urban gang war in the 1920s—aptly captures the criminal chaos let loose by Prohibition, which turned alcohol into an incredibly lucrative black-market commodity.
The Wire, one of the best drama series on American television in recent years, just completed its five-season run on HBO. The show depicts the gritty conditions of life in urban Baltimore; the entire first season focused in on the city's violent drug trade. True must-see TV.
Scarface, a sprawling and violent gangster epic written by Oliver Stone, directed by Brian De Palma, and carried by actor Al Pacino, was released in 1983 to mixed reviews and mediocre box-office. In the years since, however, the film has become a true cult classic, as modern-day gangstas and wannabes turned Pacino's character Tony Montana into a bloodthirsty folk hero for the hip-hop age. "Say hello to my little friend!"br>