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From the producer of Scarface and Carlito's Way comes the action thriller Carlito's Way: Rise to Power. Jay Hernandez (Friday Night Lights), Mario Van Peebles (Ali), Luis Guzman (Carlito's Way) and Sean Combs (Monster's Ball) star in the gripping tale of the early years of gangster legend Carlito Brigante. Seduced by the power of the brutal New York underworld, he enters a deadly circle of greed and retribution. Assisted by his two brothers in crime, Carlito is on the fast track to becoming Spanish Harlem's ultimate kingpin. He quickly learns, however, that the only way to survive at the top is through loyalty to his friends and respect for the rules of the street.
An all-star cast is featured in this prequel of CARLITO'S WAY, originally a Brian dePalma film starring Sean Penn and Al Pacino. Set in Spanish Harlem, this version stars Jay Hernandez, in a star-making performance, as Carlito, who is on a comet-like ascent to the top of a successful crime ring. But being a kingpin takes a lot of support and the loyalty of a posse of complicated and violent friends, played by seasoned actors Mario Van Peebles, Luis Guzman, and the multi-talented P.Diddy, who proved his fine acting chops in the Broadway play, A RAISIN IN THE SUN.
Even by the notoriously undemanding standards of direct-to-vid spin-offs, "Carlito's Way: Rise to Power" is conspicuously underwhelming. Despite its tenuous ties to Brian De Palma's flashy and trashy 1993 crime drama, which showcased Al Pacino as a Puerto Rican drug lord who's semi-determined to go straight, generic time-killer plays more like a graceless reprise of swaggering Blaxploitation era cliches and stereotypes...Half-hearted attempts to evoke early '70s ambiance -- references to Vietnam and Black Panthers, prominent display of 8-track tapes, etc. -- only to serve to underscore pic's similarities to Blaxploitation fables about upwardly mobile drug dealers...Running out of dramatic steam way before the half-way point, pic gets a jump-start in the final third with the welcome arrival of wild-eyed Luis Guzman in a scene-snatching turn as a coke-addled hit man.
DVD, English, French, Dolby, Digital Audio, Dolby Digital (5.1)
Andy McKeague, DVD Monsters and Critics
...a great 60's vibe...
Scott Weinberg, DVD Talk
...a few strong performances and some solid period design...