Empire

Rated NR

From cocky entrepreneur of the drug world to duped chump of the investments bankers’ world, and from the hard-talking gun-slinging thug to clean-cut family man, John Leguizamo runs the gamut of clichéd character types and trite situations in this debut film by musician/choreographer turned writer/director Franc Reyes. Leguizamo stars as a pint-sized Latino who has worked his way up the illegitimate ladder to a ruthless and respected leader of Empire, one of the four narcotics gangs in South Bronx, while having his eyes on the monetary prize over each rung. Once his pregnant girlfriend and a seemingly sincere businessman tempt his greedy ways and American dream desires, the ignorant gangster gets in over his head and so far out of control that only this makeshift and overtly predictable Hollywood ending can remedy the situation in an impossible matter of moments. Since this is the first feature by the new Latino production company Arenas Entertainment, and by Reyes, I’ll grant more forgiveness to the dull, urine-color tinted cinematography and unimaginative plot. If these filmmakers want to make an empire of their own in Hollywood, they’ll have to do much better with their next cinematic attempt.

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