10 Best Movies About Gangs

Sunday, January 23 by Tom Gordon

The 10 best movies about gangs covers gangs with great dance moves and gangs with guns across more than 50 years of moviemaking. While gangs tend to occupy a place normally filled by families, in every case among these best movies about gangs, trouble and not security tends to follow the heroes and villians no matter which group they call their own. See if any of your favoring gang movies are on this list.

  1. "West Side Story." This retelling of the "Romeo and Juliet" story, as presented with the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim and the music of Leonard Bernstein, follows the tragic tale of a clash between the Jets and the Sharks in New York City. It's one of those musicals that's cool for guys to like. Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno were gorgeous and the songs are pretty unforgettable.
  2. "Boyz N the Hood." John Singleton's debut film in 1991 sparked a slew of similar L.A. gang stories, but few of them could match the emotion and drama in this story, which Singleton has said was based partly on people he knew growing up.
  3. "Colors." Sean Penn starred as a Los Angeles police officer, nicknamed Pac Man, because of his bright yellow undercover car. Also starring Robert Duvall and directed by Dennis Hopper, this 1988 movie was one of the first to cast a light on the troubled relationship between L.A. cops and the gangs they deal with every day.
  4. "Warriors" This 1979 classic follows a New York gang called The Warriors home from a citywide gang conference, where someone frames the Warriors for the murder of a gangland leader. The movie is essentially the Warriors battling one odd gang after another, like the Baseball Furies and the Punks (who fight on rollerskates???). And anyone who has seen this one won't be able to forget crazy Luther from the Rogues, clinking the bottles together and calling out, "Warriors, come out to plaaaaay" and the great Joe Walsh song, "In the City" as the movie fades to black.
  5. "Menace II Society." Made be brothers Allen and Albert Hughes in 1993, "Menace II Society" is a powerful film that shows just how inevitable a life of crime can be for youths surrounded by crime, violence and gang culture.
  6. "Gangs of New York." For what should have been Martin Scorsese's first Best Director Oscar, 2002's "Gangs of New York" was a brilliant, violent and gripping tale about 19th century ethnic gangs in the city. Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis are amazing in this movie and Cameron Diaz is gorgeous and actually pretty good as the pickpocket and "turtledove" Jenny.
  7. "The Wanderers." The 1979 film set in 1963, tells the story of an Italian gang in New York and the sometimes funny, sometimes angst-filled struggles of growing up. The soundtrack is loaded with great hits of the era.
  8. "Reservoir Dogs." The movie that put Quentin Tarantino on the map tells the story of an ill-fated gang of violent, foul-mouthed and paranoid thieves after a heist goes awry. The performances of Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen and Steve Buscemi stand out amid an ensemble of great character actors delivering lines as only Tarantino could write.
  9. "A Clockwork Orange." Malcolm McDowell plays Alex, who leads his gang of "droogs" on a spree of mayhem and violence before being arrested and allegedly reformed. The Stanley Kubrick film remains controversial four decades after its release.
  10. "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy." Okay, not technically a gang film, but the scene with the brawling rival TV news crews is one of the most memorable gang fights in movie history. And easily the funniest.

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