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The Gangs of New York



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10

MPAA Rating: R

Martin Scorsese film, set in New York City between 1840 and 1863 when Manhattan gangs of native-born and newly arrived New Yorkers battled each other for turf. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a young man out to avenge his father's death, Cameron Diaz is the pickpocket who helps him, and Daniel Day-Lewis is the gangster responsible. It all takes place amid the crooked cops and corrupt politicians of the Tammany Hall era. Also with Liam Neeson and Henry Thomas. [2:44]

SEX/NUDITY 7 - Many women are shown in corsets with their bare breasts exposed; some are in cages hanging from the ceiling and men bid for them. In one scene many women in corsets, with their breasts exposed, are shown kissing men, some men fondle the women, and a woman kisses another woman's shoulder. One man has sex with a woman (she's lying back on a table with her leg lifted and he's thrusting). A man and a woman kiss and moan, he unties her dress, kisses her neck and chest, she opens his shirt and kisses his bare chest. A man and a woman kiss passionately, he lifts her up and presses her against a beam, they moan and have sex while another man watches (they are unaware of his presence), and we see them later sleeping in bed together. Three nude women (we see their bare buttocks, backs and breasts) lie with a man in bed. Two nude women lie in bed together (we see their bare breasts and hips). A woman kisses a man's face tenderly several times. A man tries to kiss a woman, but she punches at him. A woman chooses one man to dance with, from a lineup of men; they and a group of other men and women dance. A woman opens her dress and we see her cleavage. A woman caresses a man's head lovingly. A man is wrapped in towels after bathing. A man winks at a woman and two men admire a woman as she walks away. Women wear dresses that accentuate their cleavage and breasts (tightly laced corsets). One of the gangs is referred to as the "he-shes" and they are men dressed like women.

VIOLENCE/GORE 9 - A brawl begins between groups of men armed with spikes, spears and bladed weapons (young boys watch the battle from a perch): The fight begins with slashing, punching, men falling and yelling, and as it continues the snow covered ground turns red. Men are slashed and impaled, blood sprays from a neck wound, a woman with metal claws in her gloves tears at a man, and someone's leg breaks and we see it bent. The wounded writhe on the ground, a man is knifed in the back, a man's mouth is stretched until it begins to spilt and bleed, and a man is stabbed in the stomach. A man grabs a man's neck and is then stabbed in the side and falls to the ground (we see blood on his hands and face) and he's stabbed again, as his son cries over him. A man pulls a gun on another man who throws a knife, hitting him in the stomach; the wounded man is then put on a table, the other man climbs on top of him, head-butts him repeatedly until his face is a bloody pulp, and then he is burned on the cheek with a red-hot blade. A man stabs another man in the hand (we see the knife sticking through his hand and into a table and hear him moaning). A man is shot in the chest (blood sprays from the wound), and the man who shot him is shot in the stomach -- we see lots of blood on the man's hands and clothing and a man steps on the man's stomach wound, threatens him with a knife and the man dies. A wounded man (his face is very bloody) is tied to a fence and while another man is trying to free him, he screams in pain. He's then shot in the head. A man throws a cleaver into another man's back: he then falls into glass breaking it, he falls to the ground and is then beaten on the head with a large stick (we hear a crack when he's hit). An African-American man is beaten and kicked by a mob with sticks, another is surrounded by a mob and presumably beaten, and we see a couple of other African-Americans hanging from lamp posts, and the feet of one are set ablaze. A man is shot repeatedly (blood pours from his wounds), a man is shot and hung from a lamppost, and a woman shoots another woman. Ships in a harbor fire cannons at the streets where people are fighting and pillaging, buildings are hit and rubble and debris flies everywhere, and people are covered in dust. An army fires upon a gathered mob, blood spurts when people are hit, they jerk and fall (a stream of blood forms on the street). A man pulls a shard out of his side, another man shoves a knife into his stomach (blood sprays), and the wounded man quivers and dies. A man charges toward a group of soldiers and he's beaten and kicked to death. A man standing in a smoke-filled street is slashed on both legs by another man who's darting around him, and a soldier is killed by the wounded man. People crash into a family's home, and a man shoots a few of them. A man fires a gun into the air and falls dead from a knife in his back (we see the knife sticking out of his back). Four men stand on gallows, with nooses around their necks, the hatches open out from under their feet and they dangle (one man's son watches from the crowd). Two men fight with really loud punches in the stomach and head, one has his head slammed into a wall, one is nearly stabbed, and one is held around the neck and his mouth is tugged on. A bare-knuckle match has both fighters with very bloody faces, and one collapses. A man shoves a man against a wall and pokes a knife around his head, a man throws knives at a woman (this is onstage but she seems frightened), and he throws knives at another woman who is grazed on the neck by one. Two men hold knives on a man, they approach, he hits them both, gets a knife and holds it to the throat of one of them (one has a very bloody nose). A man screams in pain as a doctor tries to tend to his wounds. A man grabs a woman, she knees him in the groin twice and then holds a knife to his throat. A woman is hit in the head and face with stones as she disembarks from a ship, and a woman is hit in the stomach and robbed. A man orders that noses and ears are to be taken as "trophies" after a fight. We see animal carcasses hanging in a few scenes: a man cuts hunks off for people and uses a pig as a training dummy while teaching someone how to stab to kill (a pig's head lies on a table in one scene, with blood at the neck, and a bloody pig's head is delivered to a man). A man touches a railing that is covered with blood. Many dead bodies are rolled into pits, and a pier is lined with coffins of soldiers (from the Civil War front) in a few scenes. A man lies dead on a street (he's tinged gray), and we see lists of dead soldiers' names and see photos of dead soldiers. A boy pulls a knife on a man and runs, and he hits a man on the leg with a large stick. A man cuts his cheek with a straight razor (we see a bit of blood on the blade) and another man does the same in a later scene. A building burns and the two fire brigades that come to put out the fire begin fighting and punching each other, and a man is trapped in a room engulfed in flames (he's pulled out smoldering and coughing). A man is hit in the stomach with a nightstick. Two men beat another man, a group of men fight police officers, and boys trip a man and rob him. A man hits a woman (we see this from a distance so it's not clear if there are any injuries). A man has scars on his face, a woman has a large jagged scar on her abdomen (she tells us that "they cut out a baby"), and another man has scars all over his chest and abdomen. A man lunges at another man and says "I'll slit your throat." A man lunges at two men and yells racial insults at them. A woman holds a gun on a man. A man talks about wanting to shoot all immigrants as they get off ships, a man talks about hanging four people to make a point politically, a man talks about cutting off the heads, tongues and hands of people. A man sells a dead body to be used for medical experiments. A man slaps a woman, she slaps him back and they argue violently; he tries to kiss her and she threatens to bite him. A man grabs a woman (we see this from a distance), another man tries to kiss a woman, but she punches at him, he wraps her leg around his waist and she keeps punching. People protest the Civil War draft by crashing into draft facilities. People are threatened with knives and violence to make them vote (in some cases more than once). A couple of boys throw a rock through a window. A man runs into a woman and she stumbles. People bet on a fight between a dog and a bag full of rats (we see the bag open and hear the dog barking, but nothing else). A man hangs a dead rabbit from a fence post (we see blood around its neck). Actors on a stage are pelted with vegetables by an unruly crowd. A man practices throwing a knife into a beam repeatedly. A cave wall is lined with skulls.

PROFANITY 5 - 4 F-words, 1 sexual reference, 3 scatological terms, 1 anatomical term, 23 mild obscenities, 12 derogatory terms for African-Americans, 1 derogatory term for Irish-Americans, 3 derogatory terms for Chinese-Americans, 2 religious profanities, 11 religious exclamations, name-calling and insults. [profanity glossary]

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Immigration, nativism, turf battles, honor, greed, prejudice, forgiveness, slavery, the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, secession, the draft, famine, civic duty, the Gold Rush, coercion, gangs, religious divisions, poverty, sodomy, voter fraud.

MESSAGE - The specter of fear preserves order. With numbers comes strength. People will fight over anything, even a tract of insignificant turf.

(Note: People are shown smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol and we see people sharing something from a pipe but we are not told what it is.)

Special Keywords: S7 - V9 - P5 - MPAAR

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A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

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