Wow, I don't know where I was when this was released because I had absolutely no idea that this film even existed.
Inspired by a true story, "American Me" is a harsh look into the life of Latinos in East Los Angeles...both on the streets and in the California prison system. Mexican mafia boss Santana, played by Edward James Olmos, is the one with the most respect in the prison system, with the power to smuggle drugs in, kill those who get in his way, and get what he wants. His gang is his family...his identity...how he feels he makes a mark on the world. From juvenile detention to state prison, all he knows is life in prison. At the end of his 18-year sentence, he must try and find new meaning in life. Unable to get away from the crimes of his past, Santana must deal with life, the family he has hurt, and a past that will most definitely come back to haunt him.
Edward James Olmos does a fantastic job in "American Me," both as an actor and director. It is a tough film to watch but follows the life of his character completely and would not be the same with out him. From the second we are introduced to him, we are drawn into his world and the life of a Latino mob boss...it is a very compelling story.
"American Me" is like I said before...a tough movie to watch. It is not an entertaining film where I can sit down, eat some popcorn, and enjoy. It is a movie that I almost feel that I needed to watch...I needed to know about this story and wake up and realize that our world can be a terrible place where there is a lot of pain, depression, and ugliness.
"American Me" is definitely worth the watch...once. I am glad that I watched this, but will honestly never watch this again. I felt almost sick the entire time I watched this movie...but I couldn't stop watching and completely felt for Santana and his family. Give this one a watch...learn...and remember where you are and how blessed you are.
Here we unfortunately get a video transfer that just isn't up to par with high-def standards. Grain is present throughout the film and is just enough to bug you. Outside, the colors are just okay...nothing stands out and pops at you. Overall just a really lacking transfer that doesn't stand out in any way. I wish that this could have had a fantastic transfer so that we could be even more immerged into this film.
Here we get a 5.1 Dolby Digital track that is also lacking. The surrounds are very much lacking, with minimal use. The dialogue is quite soft throughout the film and isn't very crisp. It is almost even muddy at times. The soundtrack is good, and overall it is an okay transfer that could have been updated.
"Lives in Hazard" Documentary: This is an incredible documentary about the making of "American Me." But it is not just about the making of...it is about life in East L.A. We learn about the set and the hiring of gang members and participation from actual inmates. But the real focus of this documentary is gang life. We hear the real stories from gang members and inmates, about life in a gang and life in jail. This is a tremendously tough documentary that really hits hard on gang life.
"American Me" needs to be watched. I hope that there will be at least a couple of kids that are kept away from gang life by watching this film. That being said...I can't watch it more than once...it is extremely tough, and heartbreaking to watch the lives of these kids be ruined. The video transfer is nothing special and neither is the audio quality. Give this one a Rent.