Street Gang Month continues with Gangs of New York. Directed by Martin Scorsese this movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio (Amsterdam Vallon), Daniel Day Lewis (Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting), and Liam Neeson (‘Priest’ Vallon) in a period piece about New York Street Gangs in 1860’s.
The Civil War rages and the Natives street gang led by Bill the Butcher Cutting rules the 5 points neighborhood of New York and prey upon newly arrived Irish Immigrants. The Natives think that only native born citizens in the US should live in the US.
The movie starts with a brutal and deadly brawl between the Irish immigrants led by the Priest versus the Natives led by Bill The Butcher. The Priest dies during the melee, and his son is whisked away into exile for his own safety. After he grows up, Amsterdam Vallon, the son of the Priest, returns to exact revenge of on Bill The Butcher who killed his father during the brawl.
Daniel Day Lewis is compelling as Bill The Butcher. You know what he is capable of, yet you hang on his every action and word as he rules the area with an iron fist. In addition to a brutal, yet compelling story, Scorsese paints a picture of the chaotic life of New York City during the Civil War. In addition to the rule of law being dictated by armed gangs, competing fire departments brawl with each other as to who is in charge of putting out fires in the area. While the chaos rules, the Union Army drafts citizens to fight the Confederacy.
This is one of Scorsese’s best films.
We give Gangs of New York 5 out of 5 stars.