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Hype machines be damned Forget the rumors of derision behind the scenes forget the cost over-runs and lack of onscreen chemistry between two of the leading actors Forget that Miramax and Harvey Weinstein had anything whatsoever to do with cutting budgeting or otherwise exercising creative control over the finished product Gangs of New York is pure Scorsese through-and-through and for that audiences should be eternally grateful Were not force-fed a toned down been-there-done-that formula film Instead Scorsese delivers an epic motion picture showcasing a critical time in our nations history Violent disturbing and visually commanding Gangs of New York succeeds because of Scorseses determination to pay tribute to New Yorks brutal and chaotic past Set in the Five Points neighborhood of 1860s New York the movie follows a young Irish American Amsterdam Vallan Leonardo DiCaprio who sees his father Priest Vallon Liam Neeson leader of the Irish immigrants street gang the Dead Rabbits killed in a street brawl with a rival gang led by William Cutting aka Bill the Butcher Daniel Day-Lewis Emerging from an orphanage 16 years after his fathers death Amsterdam is determined to ingratiate himself into Bills confidence and then once in a position of power cut down the man who butchered his father Amsterdams plan works however he finds himself falling under the spell of the captivating Bill the Butcher His carefully laid plans for vengeance rage against his growing admiration for The Butcher Then events occur which take the onus out of Amsterdams hands and force him to become a leader like his father taking up arms against the gangs who laid waste to the Dead Rabbits Set amidst urban uprisings and the 1863 Civil War Draft Riots Gangs of New York paints a gritty picture of the struggle for freedom dignity and the right to make a life for ones self in America While Scorseses sets and costumes effectively evoke the feel of the late
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