Violent ‘90s Underrated Crime Epic Needs Your Help

By Shanna Mathews-Mendez | Published

Mobsters, a film based on critical events in the United States organized crime scene, is violent, bloody, and full of an important story that gets missed in some overproduction. It’s not the best movie in the world, but it’s worth mentioning among gangster films set in the 1920s. After all, this time period gave birth to organized crime in America. 

Showcase For Young Hollywood

With only a 9 percent rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Mobsters often gets written off as a showcase of teen heartthrobs. When the film was released in 1991, Christian Slater and Patrick Dempsey were two of the biggest names among young Hollywood, and Costas Mandylor and Richard Greico were the ultimate in hunky playboys. 

The four team up in this movie centering around an origin story of organized crime in New York. 

Rise Of The Mob

Slater plays Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, an Italian immigrant who rose to fame in New York after taking down two of the biggest mob bosses at the time. Dempsey plays Meyer Lansky, a Jewish immigrant from Poland known for his brilliance with numbers. He earned a nickname as the Mob’s Accountant. 

The film opens with Lucky and Meyer as friends when they were teenagers on the mean streets of New York, where corruption ran rampant and mob bosses ran everything. Lucky watches his father and his cousin murdered by two different head mobsters, Don Faranzano and Don Masseria, and vows from that point on to claim his revenge. 

Mob Wars

From that point on, the movie shows the chronological growth of Lucky and Meyer as they achieve small successes during Prohibition, running bootlegged liquor and bringing two young hitmen, Bugsy Siegel (Grieco) and Frank Costello (Mandylor), in as muscle. The four quickly take over a large portion of organized crime in New York, but they find themselves repeatedly at odds with Faranzano and Masseria, played by Michael Gambon and Anthony Quinn, respectively.

I won’t spoil the movie, or this piece of history, for you by revealing how Mobsters ends. Suffice it to say it is filled with brutal attacks and retaliations. This time period for America was one of the bloodiest, with the invention of the Tommy gun and the ruthlessness of mafiosos and their hitmen. 

No One Is Spared

While some critics have noted that the violence in Mobsters is over the top, and indeed, it can get gruesome, I don’t think it’s any bloodier than other gangster films like it — Scarface, Goodfellas, and Heat come to mind. These times were bloody, and the film, I would say, accurately portrays a reality far too many people prefer to romanticize. 

Mobsters, much like Sons of Anarchy, seems to say that no one is safe in the battle over territory and respect amongst gangsters. 

Also Stars A 90s Hollywood It Girl

This role for Christian Slater may well have revealed him as capable of playing Clarence in True Romance, where he gets to shine as so much more than a teen heartthrob. He’s serious, gritty, and relentless. Patrick Dempsey took a huge leap from movies like Can’t Buy Me Love into this turn as a calculated, clear-eyed leader of thugs. 

It’s also a great opportunity to see a young, pretty Lara Flynn Boyle before she started playing more cold-hearted characters. 

Mobsters Can’t Be Streamed And That Needs To Change


Again, you don’t have to love this movie. I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars. But it’s the only one made like it, centering on the central figures of organized crime, the men who essentially took the chaos that was the messy mafia and turned it into a syndicate with five families working more or less together to run New York and much of the United States of America. 

It’s a quintessentially American story and one everyone should know about.