Six Ethnic Mobs and Their Portrayals in Movies

There are literally dozens of movies that depict the culture and lifestyle of criminal organizations, particularly those in which ethnicity is required for membership.  Whether you refer to them as the mob or the mafia, these organizations seem to always have their hands in various enterprises and will do away with anyone that stands between them and their money.  It’s safe to say that movies will continue to feature stories involving the mob. I’m sure that every ethnicity has some type of criminal organization, but six really seemed to stand out from the rest.  Here’s a look at those six ethnic mobs as portrayed in movies:

The Italian Mafia – The Godfather, Goodfellas, et al.

vito-corleone.jpg

No mob has been featured in American movies more than the Italian mafia, and it isn’t even close.  The Godfather and The Godfather Part II are widely considered two of the greatest films ever made, and Vito Corlenone is one of American cinema’s most recognizable characters.  The Italian mafia has also been portrayed in Goodfellas, Casino, The Untouchables, A Bronx Tale, and Donnie Brasco.  A lot of what people know about the Italian mafia comes from movies like this (and The Sopranos, of course), and “mafia” has become nearly synonymous with “Italian mafia.”

The Russian Mafia – Eastern Promises, 25th Hour

viggo-eastern-promises-550-703557.jpg

Spike Lee’s 25th Hour gives us a small glimpse of the Russian Mafia and its involvement in drug trafficking, but Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises takes viewers much futher inside the organization’s workings.  Eastern Promises shows not only the violent side of the Russian mafia, but the cultural as well, such as the brilliantly shot dinner scene in which the camera pans across the dinner table and captures the tradition of the Russians all in a single take.  Most impressive, however, were the accurate depictions of the Russian gangster tattoos, particularly the symbolic stars on knees.

The Irish Mob – Road to Perdition, The Departed

rtp-hanks.jpg

Scorsese, most known for portraying the Italian mafia, tackled the Irish mob in The Departed.  Irish mob boss Frank Castello places his protege in the Massachusetts State Police in hopes of furthering corruption within the department and making transactions easier for his crew.  Boston felt like the perfect setting for the events of The Departed to transpire.  Also featuring the Irish mob is Road to Perdition, in which Tom Hanks plays Michael Sullivan, a hit man/enforcer who goes to great lengths for his son, including going against his boss and the Irish mob as a whole.  Road to Perdition showed that the Irish mob can be as violent as any other.

The Yakuza – The Yakuza, Ichi the Killer

ichi.jpg

The Yakuza, or Japanese mob, are as heavily featured in Japanese movies as the Italian mafia is in American movies.  However, American films, too, have depicted the Yakuza.  Sydney Pollack’s The Yakuza dives into the Japanese gangster culture and features contracts for death, katanas, Seppuku, and everything else we’ve come to love about the Yakuza.  In the Japanese-made Ichi the Killer, violence is prevelant throughout the movie and the film’s protagonist, Ichi, attaches blades to the heels of his boots and uses them as weapons.  Obviously, the tone of Ichi the Killer is quite different from that of The Yakuza, but both movies involve the Japanese mob as a central player in their respective plots.

The Mexican Mob – Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico

bucho.jpg

I’m guessing the accuracy of Robert Rodriguez’s depiction of the Mexican mob may be a little bit off, but the over-the-top violence in Desperado is enjoyable enough that it’s easy to forgive any discrepancies.  In Desperado, the leader of the Mexican mob is the notorious Bucho, who has dozens of men at his disposal.  The Mexican mob was featured once again in Once Upon a Time in Mexico, a movie that also contained absurd, ultraviolent scenes.  Unlike in some of the other movies in this article, the mob is used primarily as an antagonistic, violent device and the inner workings and structure of the mob are never really given much attention.

The British Mob – Snatch

brick_top.jpg

Snatch is a hilarious movie, but Brick Top and his English mob are no laughing matter.  Like other mobs, the British mob has its hand in a variety of enterprises, most notably bare knuckle boxing.  Failure to play nice with the British mob can get you a plastic bag over your head and maybe even a trip to a barn where you’ll be eaten by pigs.  It seems the only match for the British mob in Snatch were the equally crazy Pikeys, groups of gypsies that operated somewhat like a mob themselves.

I didn’t list every single movie in which ethnic mobs were featured for obvious reasons, so I tried to mention the ones in which the mob is prominently featured.  If you know of any flicks that I may have overlooked, let me know in the comments section.  I’m always down for watching a movie about organized crime that I haven’t yet seen.


13 Comments

  1. Greg February 17, 2009
  2. Jonathan February 17, 2009
  3. Ryan February 17, 2009
  4. Xin February 18, 2009
  5. Pingback: Hail Mary Jane | Hail Mary Jane February 18, 2009
  6. II TR1LL February 18, 2009
  7. dave February 20, 2009
  8. Pingback: 6 Ethnic Mobs Portrayed in Movies | Listicles February 27, 2009
  9. Alfred March 21, 2009
  10. MAC April 2, 2009
  11. MaC April 17, 2009
  12. Meg July 12, 2009
  13. Madison July 12, 2009
  14. JoeW August 26, 2011
  15. klecser January 8, 2015

Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

A Complete Guideline for Beginners to Make a Professional Film
A Beginners Guideline to Making a Professional Film
How to Step Back in Time for a Day
Five Solid TV Shows and Movies Turned into Games
10 Humongous Plot Holes in the Star Wars Franchise
The Benefits Of Elo Boosting
Guide to Retro Gaming: How to Prepare Your Playing Device for This
How to Get the Luna’s Howl Hand Cannon in Destiny 2
Explaining the Ending to Outlast 2
Who Is Gotham’s Solomon Grundy?
Explaining Black Sky from Marvel’s The Defenders
What We Know About the White Ranger Showing Up in BOOM! Studios’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
10 Things You Didn’t Know about Lord Zedd
Five DC Superheroes Who are Incredible Liars
10 Things You Didn’t Know about Guy Gardner
10 Things You Didn’t Know about Mister Terrific
10 Things You Didn’t Know about Marvel’s Okoye
Man Cave Creation
10 Steps to Creating the Ultimate Man Cave
How Do We Limit Screen Time and Set Children Up for Success?
3 Types of Useful Video Software You Should Consider Owning
Here’s Why Apple Should Buy Activision