18 Best Movies About Gangs That You Should Watching Update 10/2022

Movies About Gangs

Genre definitions can be a tricky issue to deal with. When we say “gangster flicks,” we’re referring to films about… gangsters, which should be self-explanatory. It’s unclear, though, what kind of “gangster” we’re discussing. How far back can we go? The Borgias are they a gang? What was the name of the pope? Catholicism has been around for a long time.

In addition, what about so-called “gangs?” No, “gangster movies” and “gang movies” are not the same thing. How gangster is one compared to the other? Are mobs and mafias really so bad? Is there really any difference between these syndicates and street gangs? “Cartels” are another category. Cartels and organized crime families have a lot in common, it seems. As a result, gangster movies should include cartel films. Right?

There is a lot to take in here. Rather than limit ourselves, we’re covering anything and everything related to organized crime and the mafia. This isn’t the place to find a list of only Italian-American mob movies. (But don’t worry, your Godfather is still at the top of the list.)

The focus on the criminal gang is the only thing that connects these three flicks. These aren’t just movies about gangs or their members; they’re films about a specific gang, its boss, or a member in particular. Of any “gang” kind or variety.

Let’s get this out of the way, please. This is a list of the greatest “gangster movies” ever made.

Film adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather is a cinematic masterpiece. When we think of a “gangster movie,” this is what comes to mind: it’s an eternal standard, an ideal, the most pure version of what we mean. Power, family, tragedy, betrayal, usurpation. There’s also a lot of criminality, of course.

1. The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather (1972)

Perhaps the best sequel in the history of trilogies, The Godfather: Part II is a character study of multiple generations. Following the lives of two successive crime leaders, Michael and Vito, this film is a must-see regardless of whether you’re into gangster movies or not.

2. The Godfather: Part II (1974)

Gomorrah is based on Roberto Saviano’s irrational but fascinating investigation of the same name. It describes the activities of the Camorra di Napoli, a family-run criminal organization that has a tight grip on the economies of several regions. The picture has a grimier and more sad atmosphere than The Godfather, which focuses on a single family. In Gomorrah, it’s frequently the neighborhood that bears the brunt of the destruction.

3. Gomorrah (2008)

City of God (based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Paulo Lins) examines the influence of several street gangs on Cidade de Deus, a favela in Western Rio de Janeiro, in the same way as Gomorrah examined Naples’ housing developments. These groups, like the Camorra, have children in their ranks.

4. City of God (2002)

City of God (2002)

It’s one of Martin Scorsese’s best films as a director, which is saying a lot. Using the story of Henry Hill by Nicholas Pileggi, Wiseguy, the film Goodfellas keeps the brutality of its Italian antecedents while also adding a smidgen of humor. In the end, you get movie magic.

5. Goodfellas (1990)

We’ll be seeing a lot of Brian De Palma in the near future. Even though De Palma’s more well-known gangster picture The Untouchables, The Untouchables remains a monumental piece of genuine crime. It’s a gangster film with a concentration on police enforcement, yet it’s one of the greatest.

6. The Untouchables (1987)

Scarface has had more of an impact on popular culture and our collective cinematic imagination than any other gangster film. Scarface, a reimagining of the original 1932 film, opened to critical and popular acclaim. It’s brutal, cruel, and abominable all at once. If you’re looking for a movie on a single mobster, look no further than here.

7. Scarface (1983)

Scarface (1983)

Menace II Society, like Gomorrah and City of God, is a coming-of-age story about a bunch of kids and their neighborhood. That part of Los Angeles is Watts. There is a similar level of devastation to that shown in the earlier flicks.

8. Menace II Society (1993)

The Coen brothers’ take on the gangster film is nothing short of brilliant. Miller’s Crossing has lasted despite its initial box office disaster. Though it isn’t suited to everyone, if you’re one of those people, you’re going to love it.

9. Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Both the Coen brothers and Sergio Leone, the master of the spaghetti western, make gangster movies. Leone’s final picture after a long absence was Once Upon a Time in America. The swan song is a masterpiece, a horrific epic poem on film, and well worth the extra running time. There is a director’s cut here that you should watch.

10. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

And yet another legendary director is taking on the gangster genre with his next film. Stanley Kubrick, if you please. The Killing, directed by Kubrick early in his career, isn’t quite a “gangster film” in the same sense as some of the others on our list, but it’s nonetheless an excellent crime drama.

11. Sexy Beast (2000)

In Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre, a Honduran adolescent flees his history with the MS-13, while another child flees his past with the MS-13. Sin Nombre will stomp any criminal romanticism you may have from the aforementioned mob films out of you.

12. Sin Nombre (2009)

Boyz n the Hood, like the other films on this list, is a coming-of-age tale set in an urban environment, but one that is also filled with violence. In no particular order, these are the actors: Angela Bassett (voice), Cuba Gooding Jr. (voice), Laurence Fishburne (voice), Regina King (voice). Watch this, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

13. Eastern Promises (2007)

Eastern Promises (2007)

Film is based on Frank Lucas, a Harlem drug smuggler who notoriously bypassed the middleman and acquired heroin straight from Southeast Asian producers during the Vietnam war. Heroin is depicted as being imported in soldiers’ coffins by him in the film.

14. American Gangster (2007)

What if I told you that Infernal Affairs had done the police mole/gangster mole drama better than The Departed? A Hong Kong film classic and one of the greatest criminal thrillers ever made, anywhere.

15. Infernal Affairs (2002)

In this French gangster thriller, Tahar Rahim portrays a convict who becomes an assassin and drug trafficker after being released from prison. Scarface shares this trait with one of the best recent instances of the gangster biopic subgenre.

16. A Prophet (2009)

A Prophet (2009)

We need more Martin Scorsese films in our lives! Although Scorsese’s earlier Goodfellas was more received, this picture nonetheless hits all the right notes. Let us produce ordinary movies, too, since if this is a typical Scorsese…

17. In Bruges (2008)

To keep his younger brother from following in his footsteps, Edward Norton plays a former skinhead in the film. We go to the movies to get away from reality for a while. Our own world and country can be seen in the mirror from time to time. Take a look if you can handle seeing yourself in the mirror.

18. Road to Perdition (2002)

This Is England, a film by Shane Meadows, shows the youth-fueled yearning for belonging that still motivates many gang activity in the 1980s skinhead subculture. The film, unfortunately, is never out of date.