The Best Movies About Gangs
Here is the list of the best gang movies of all time. These are films that focus on gangs, life as a gang member, and the conflicts between rival street gangs. This genre can also include hood movies, heist movies, and various other sub-genres. Unlike hood movies, however, gang films can be much more stylized as well as take place during various decades and points in time. There are quiet a few movies about Los Angeles gangs as well as movies about the Crips and Bloods. Life among street gangs can be difficult, to say the least. The conflicts spawned from such an environment can make for great drama and storytelling.
Including Boyz n the Hood and The Warriors, this list of the best gang movies has all of your favorite movies about growing up gangsters, gang violence, and protecting street reputations.
What are the top street gang movies of all time? The movies on this list are some of the best thug-life films anywhere.
Widely regarded as one of the best movies about gangs ever told and a pitch-perfect depiction of gang life in Los Angeles, Bound by Honor, or as it is also known Blood In, Blood Out, is an epic, engrossing, and excellent look at Latin culture, crime, and the brotherhood that forms in the chaos. Taking place entirely in East L.A. with the "Vatos Locos' running wild on the streets, the film is based on the true life experiences of poet Jimmy Santiago Baca and showcases how easy it is to get into this world, and how difficult it is to get out. Fantastic storytelling of gang cultures, criminal activities, betrayal, and racial division, Bound by Honor is the pinnacle of LA gang movies, Bound by Honor is a cult classic, a fan favorite, and a staple in the culture for good reason.
- Actors: Damian Chapa, Jesse Borrego, Benjamin Bratt
- Released: 1993
- Directed by: Taylor Hackford
A provocative and volatile showcase of the effects of our actions and how the sins of our past still remain ever present even in the wake of trying to become a better person, American History X is a nearly impossible-to-watch look at the evilness of man and the legacy we leave for our children. A film that takes a deep look into the horrifying life of a neo-Nazi, the film isn't fun or entertaining like so many of the best gang movies but is a harsh and devastating look at the real tragic and dangerous effects of living a wicked life. A film that is not for the faint of heart of weak willed, American History X is a lesson in
- Actors: Ed Norton, Edward Furlong, Fairuza Balk, Beverly D'Angelo, Avery Brooks
- Released: 1998
- Directed by: Tony Kaye
An incredibly sobering and realistic look at gangs in movies and the seemingly neverending hold they have on a person once they enter the street life, Menace II Society is arguably one of the best movies about gangs ever made. Telling a story of a young 18-year-old man raised on the streets who is desperate to leave that life behind him, Menace II Society is a violent, painful, and hard film to watch that will break audiences' hearts in the opening minutes and send them on an emotional rollercoaster throughout the excellent 97 minutes runtime. While many films about gangs love to exaggerate and glorify the street life, Menace II Society shows the harsh painful truth of living a life of crime.
- Actors: Tyrin Turner, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vonte Sweet, Larenz Tate, MC Eight
- Released: 1993
- Directed by: Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes
- Photo: Gangs of New York
A fascinating time capsule of power in the 1800s, Gangs of New York traverses audiences into a strange yet familiar world of gang violence that shows strength, determination, and guts can get a man anywhere he wants to be in life. It's not often audiences get a period-piece gang movie, but somehow Gangs of New York manages to mix these two seemingly incompatible genres and forges a fascinating and devastating story. Sleek, epic, and masterfully crafted, corruption, crime, and the American Dream all collide in a showcase of power and resolve that will have audiences holding their breathe until the credits roll.
- Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Liam Neeson, Jim Broadbent
- Released: 2002
- Directed by: Martin Scorsese
The pinnacle film depicting crime in South Central Los Angeles, Boyz n the Hood is a modern-day gangster masterpiece that pulls no punches and holds no barred when showcasing the devastating and horrifying violence of gang life in California. With no clear structure, instead focusing on the daily life of living in the hood, the film reels audiences in with incredible characters who we grow to genuinely love, as they are forced into a deadly and dangerous world that is growing in terror every second. A film that feels so real from its characters to its music to its depiction of real life, Boyz n the Hood is a film made for the people, by the people, and one that will withstand the test of time for decades to come.
- Actors: Laurence Fishburne, Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut
- Released: 1991
- Directed by: John Singleton
After living behind bars for 18 years in Folsom Prison, running the streets as a gang leader behind bars, Montoya Santana, portrayed incredibly by Edward James Olmos, simply wants to return home and leave the past behind him, but the errors of his ways and ghosts of his past simply won't let him. Seeking freedom is never easy when living on the streets, and in this heartbreaking and devastating movie about gang violence and living the gangster life, the consequences of actions always catch up. An ultra-realistic depiction of crime and consequences, American Me is a film that is not easy to watch, but one that any lover of crime films needs to see.
- Actors: Edward James Olmos, William Forsythe, Pepe Serna, Danny De La Paz, Evelina Fernandez
- Released: 1992
- Directed by: Edward James Olmos