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American Gangster Film Review
Written by Donna Prima   
 Not only is Oscar written all over American Gangster (starring Oscar-winners Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe) so is the "American Dream."

Telling the true story of the rise and fall of one of America's most fascinating gangsters the film is rooted in the theme of living the American dream. Washington (as Frank Lucas) gives another brilliant turn as an African-American drug kingpin driven by rage and inspired by honor, discipline and family. Filling out the cast are acting legend Ruby Dee, theater vet Roger Guenveur Smith, Cuba Gooding Jr., Chiwetel Ejiofor and Josh Brolin.

Bringing another aspect of the real-life dream are a slew of rap/hip-hop artists who co-star as Lucas' family members or cops. RZA offers a convincing (until you see his WuTang tatoo) portrayal of special agent Moses Jones, while an earthy-looking Common and fresh-faced T.I. play a father and son sucked into a life of crime. Also appearing in cameos are soul songster Anthony Hamilton and hip-hop culture legend Fab 5 Freddy.

But all are eclipsed by Washington who owns this film as he shows us the many levels of a man who had what it took to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but instead ended up another victim of racism-induced rage. Crowe's steady performance (featuring a shaky accent that lands somewhere between Australia and New Jersey) is solid but not enough to make the audience root for him, while Washington, as brutal as his character is, steals hearts, minds and theater audience applause.

After you see the movie, don't forget to check out the official soundtrack featuring a diverse slate of artists such as Hamilton, Bobby Womack, Public Enemy, The Staple Singers and more.

Meanwhile Jay-Z's unofficial soundtrack of the same name is due to drop November 6, is chock full of new material and ranks as the Def Jam honcho's best in years.

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