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  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Jan
from Film Forum, 12/12/02

Empire follows the downward spiral of Victor Ramos, a Puerto Rican drug dealer who learns that going straight isn't easy. Drugs have led to violence, and violence has changed his mind, so he turns to illegal investing instead. But this switch from one evil to another fails to bring him any more happiness. In fact, when his money disappears, Victor decides violence might not be such a bad thing after all if it is directed at those who stole from him.

Movieguide's critic says, "Despite some moral elements, Empire contains an excessive amount of foul language, a Romantic worldview, some strong sexual references, nudity, and a story that overly glamorizes the life of an urban drug dealer."

Gerri Pare (Catholic News) complains about "an atrociously written script. … Every so often there are shootouts whose bullets blow holes in the wall so big you could throw a basketball through them. Reyes' visuals are self-consciously high style and glossy but, with such a heavy-handed and far-fetched narrative peopled by across-the-board despicable characters, Empire should claim no territory at the box office."

Phil Boatwright (Movie Reporter) says, "Folks, I'm not a prude, I just get tired of hearing foul language or being prompted by filmmakers to incessantly think about sex and bad behavior. The excessive content used here certainly doesn't promote a spiritual growth and artistically it is limiting. The story, direction, and performances lack conviction, momentum, or believability."