Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) was the early black mob figure in the 70’s that took advantage of the soldiers of Vietnam War to transport opium and the corrupt police department in New York City. Richie (Russel Crowe) was the incorruptible cop in New Jersey that chased after the new mob figure relentlessly and finally got the case cracked wide open and implicated nearly three quarters of the police department, thanks to Frank’s help. Richie even represented him as the attorney during the trial.
Frank Lucas started out as a helper/body-guard to a well-respected black mobster. Upon the death of the his boss, the streets turned into chaos with every crime figure carving out his territory. Frank, with his good marketing skill, came up with the “branded” “Blue Magic,” pure heroin, shipped directly from Southeast Asia courtesy of the military. When he got so big and the heroin shipment gets more risky due to the end of the Vietnam war, he caught the eyes of the good cop, Richie, who eventually brought him down, overcoming the negative resistance from the dirty cops of New York city.
This movie depicts several conflicts during that era: black/white, black/Italian mobsters, drug industry/police, American/Vietnam, Husband/wife, good cops/bad cops. I don’t think you can find a better movie script with a real-life story to back it up that makes it so believable.
Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, as nemesis to camaraderie, performed so well in this movie. They should work together more often.