Celebrating B Movies, Cult Films, and Indie Classics.

The Gangs of Film: My top 10 favorite movies with Gangs in them. Part: 1

by  |  February 23rd, 2011  |  Blog  |  1 Comment

There are moments with in the experience of watching a movie that can leave lasting impressions on a person.  Rather it is watching It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) with your family on Christmas… Or that first date movie… Or even that first time you come to discover a genre that will ultimately end up being one of your favorite genre’s of all time! Any and all of these things often times can leave a postitive lasting impression on a person!

Of course there is allways the negative lasting impressions (But we won’t go in to these.)

With that said, and let me preface what I am about to say with the fact that I absolutely in no way support Gang’s or the damage that they cause… With that said in a very positive way I found that movies that have Gang Members in them have made a lasting impression for me! 

The reason for this you might be asking yourself is that I have found almost one for one in every movie that revolves in some way around gangs has despite the negative aspects of it (I,e. Drugs, Guns and other assorted violence) has always had a very positive (albeit some times hidden) message of togetherness, community and a unity that borders on an almost famillial type set up!

With that said I thought that I would share with you my top 10 favorite movies that have Gangs in them!

Starting off the series at number 10 is: The Gangs of New York (2002).

Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York.

Now don’t hurt me for saying this folks, but this movie is actually a fun one!

Written by: Jay Cocks (Strange Days) and Steven Zaillian (American Gangsters) with Kenneth Lonergan (Analyze That), Directed by Martin Scorsese (Good Fellas) and starring Leonardo DiCaprio (Titantic) Daniel Day-Lewis (Ghandi) and Cameron Diaz (Charlie’s Angles)   

The Gangs of New York tell the story of a boy who comes home to get revenge on those that killed his father! The job of course won’t be easy, because the man who killed his father is pretty much in control of the Gang’s of New York!

What makes this mention worthy? The cast, in my opinion the acting in this movie is superb!

And at number 9 is: Double Dragon (1994)

Mark Dacascos and Scott Wolf in Double Dragon

Does anyone out there remember the old Double Dragon video game? I think it had been for the Nintendo? For me that was a fun one. 

Written by: Michael Davis (Shoot ‘Em Up) and Peter Gould (Meeting Daddy) and Directed by: James Yukich (Iron Maiden: Live After Death) and starring Scott Wolf (Go), Mark Dacascos (The Crow: Stairway to Heaven) with Robert Patrick (The X-Files) and Alyssa Milano (Commando)

Double Dragon tells the story of two brothers (Played by Mark Dacascos and Scott Wolf) who are living in a post-earthquake Los Angeles/San Diego.  Now these brothers have in their possession a half of the ancient Double Dragon amulet.  The other half of this amulet is currently in the control of a gang leader who will do anything he can to get the brothers amulet so that he can reconnect the two amulets and truly utilize the power of the Double Dragon!

What still drives me to this movie after so many years, is as follows:

1. For those of us that did not grow up playing X-Box 360’s or Playstations 3’s, but the old Nintendo’s, Sega Genesis’s or even Super Nintendo.  Then this can be a fun little trip down memory lane. 

2. Also I think for such a low brow movie that the casting in this film was pretty good. 

3. Lastly this film is just fun!

Coming in next at Number 8 is: The Subsitute (1996)

Tom Berenger in 'The Substitue.'

Written by: Alan Ormsby (Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile) and Roy Frumkes (The Comeback Trail) with Rocco Simonelli (Who Do I Gotta Kill?) and Directed by Robert Mandel (The X-Files) and starring Tom Berenger (Inception) Raymond Cruz (The Closer) and William Forsythe (Halloween: Remake)

The Substitute tells the story of a highschool teacher who works in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Miami. One day she steps up and gets in the face of the leader of one of the worst gangs at the school.  After doing this, the next day she is taken out by one of the gangs enforcers!

In comes her boyfriend Shale (Played by Mr. Berenger.) Shale is a mercenary who is the leader of a team of mercenaries that have been benched due to a botched government funded mission.  He comes home to find that his girl friend is out of comission, and decides to get revenge by posing as a subtitute teacher for his girl friend’s class! Of course he gets alot more then what he bargains for in the mix! 

This one is a good one as it gives a fascinating look in to the 1990’s but also the acting is good and the story line was great! A mercinary’s next mission as a Substitute Teacher!

Coming in at a whopping number 7 is: The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gérard Depardieu and Gabriel Byrne in 'The Man In The Iron Mask

I don’t care what anyone says, The 3 muskateers is a gang!  Even if it is a gang from several hundred years ago!

Written and Directed by Randall Wallace (Brave Heart) and starring Leonardo DiCaprio with Jereny Irons (The Lion King) John Malkovich (Shadow of the Vampire) and Gérard Depardieu (Babylon A.D.)

The Man In The Iron Mask is the classic retelling of an aging 4 muskateers who have grown to be infuriated with the antics of their young king (Played by DiCaprio).  One day it is discovered that the insufferable king has a twin.  So the 4 muskateers decide to go on one last adventure to restore the glory to the crown and to an increasingly decadent empire!

Now as far as the movie goes, it is not a bad one, although I have to admit that the book really is signifcantly better.  What I do like about this, is the message that it conveys.  Besides the obviousy comraderie that I mentioned above in regards to gang films.  I still think that this is a great example of the idea that it is never to late to change.  That no matter how old you are, it is never to late to capture that dream, or to re-invent yourself.

With that said, and coming to the second to that choice for the first part of my 2 part series, coming in at Number 6 is: American History X (1998)

Edward Norton, Edward Furlong and Beverly D'Angelo in American History X

Now this one I found to be a rather suprisingly interesting movie that you almost find that because of the subject matter and the intensity of the movie, that you have to like.

Written by: David McKenna (Blow) and Directed by: Tony Kaye (Lake of Fire) and starring Edward Norton (Rounders), Edward Furlong (Pet Sematary 2), Beverly D’Angelo (National Lampoon’s Vacation Series) and Avery Brooks (Star Trek: Deep Space 9)

What drew me to this story was a couple of things:

1. The almost sad story of the main character, Derek Vinyard (Norton).  He is a man who went to prison as a Neo-Nazi monster, and came out a man who had regained his humanity.  But discovering that his life on the outside is still so directly connected to that movement, that he severe’s ties to it, and tries to keep his brother from following in his foot steps.

2. The other thing that I found to be rather fascinating was the cast that worked on this project, I mean it is a virtual all star cast! Besides those that I mentioned above, there is Stacy Keach (The Killer Inside Me), Fairuza Balk (The Craft) and Elliot Gould (MASH).

 5. For the final entry in this first part of my top 10 movies with Gang’s in them.  Coming in at number 5: Falling Down (1993)

Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall and Rachel Ticotin in Falling Down.

In this one, I highly recommend checking out the recommendation that I recently wrote for it.  You might find this one becoming a quick fav!

Stay tuned when we come back in a couple of weeks for part 2 in the ‘My top 10 favorite movies with Gangs in them’ continuing with the top 5 movies with gangs in them!

Nathan Strack


Nathan Strack is a Writer/Director/Filmmaker & Owner/Founder of: Hell In Space, Strack Web Design Service & Strack Store.


  1. tony

    January 10th, 2014at 6:51 PM(#)

    Was trying to find a movie about juveniles selling drugs. One got kicked out of his grandmothers house and chased by gang members in a pathfinder wearing a wolf mask. At the end of the movie the guy from the rec center saves the boy. Can anyone help?

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