The film is dedicated to Hawks and Ben Hecht, who were the writers of the original.
The critical response to Scarface was mixed and received criticism for the violence and graphic language. Despite this, the film did well at the box office and has since gathered a cult following. The film has become an important cultural icon for many fans, inspiring posters, clothing, and many other references. The film's grainy black and white poster is a very popular decoration and is still in production.
The opening scenes shows one of these Cubans, Tony Montana (Al Pacino), one of the 125,000 Cubans that immigrated to Miami, Florida, and one of at least 25,000 who has a criminal record. He is being interrogated by three tough-talking immigration officers about his life in Cuba, and of his arrival in America. He and his best friend and former Cuban Army buddy Manny Ribera (Steven Bauer) are met with resistance, particularly because of their criminal records, and are placed in limbo (so to speak) in Freedomtown, a place where Cuban refugees without green cards are kept. A few months later, Manny makes Tony aware of a deal in which a wealthy man named Frank Lopez can give them access to Green Cards and be able to leave Freedomtown. But they have to kill a former Cuban security agent named Emilio Rebenga, who tortured Frank's brother to death in Cuba, in order to obtain it. Tony does this without much thought, stabbing and killing Rebenga during a riot, and they receive their residency.
Over the next few weeks, Tony and Manny begin working in a small Cuban food stand to make money, but Tony soon grows restless. He wishes to leave behind his working lifestyle and have all the money he can possibly have. One evening they both meet with drug dealer Omar Suarez (F. Murray Abraham) (the same man who made the "Rebenga deal") for another job. Omar wants to unload a boat from Mexico containing 500 kilograms of marijuana and offers to pay them $500 each. Tony balks and demands at least $1,000. Omar offers them $5,000 each for buying two kilograms of cocaine worth $25,000 a piece from Colombian dealer "Hector the Toad" who will be arriving in Miami in a few days. Omar will also give Tony the money as well as weapons for the deal just in case anything goes wrong.
A few days later, Tony and Manny, along with two other associates from Cuba who spent time in Freedomtown, Angel (Pepe Serna) and Chi Chi (Angel Salazar), drive to a small hotel in Miami Beach to meet with Hector for the drug deal. But the transaction soon turns bad when it becomes apparent that Hector doesn't intend to sell the cocaine he has, and wants to steal the money that Tony has, going as far as killing Angel with a chainsaw. After a gunfight, Tony, Manny, and Chi Chi escape with the cocaine after killing Hector and his associates. Instead of allowing Omar to take the cocaine to his boss Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia), Tony takes it to Frank personally, already distrusting of Omar (it is never revealed if Omar was in league with Hector to kill Tony, or if it was just a coincidence that Omar set the drug deal up unaware that Hector planned to kill his buyers). Tony manages to win Frank over with his sense of humor and bold attitude, and he ends up getting a job under Frank in his drug dealing business (along with Manny). Meanwhile, Tony takes an interest in Frank's girlfriend, Elvira Hancock (Michelle Pfeiffer). Frank takes Tony, Manny and his associates out to the Babylon Nightclub which Frank frequently attends. While Tony flirts with Elvira, she doesn't show any interest in him (or anyone else for that matter).
A few months later, Tony pays a visit to his estranged family's home. It is implied that Tony's father, a U.S. Navy sailor, walked out on the family years ago, but his mother (Miriam Colon) and his younger sister Gina (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) are home. Gina is excited to see Tony (who hasn't seen the family in five years), while his mother isn't as thrilled, aware and ashamed of his criminal history. When he offers his mother $1,000 (claiming he's "made it"), his mother angrily rejects the gift. She believes he's still up to no good, and wants him to leave because she doesn't want him rubbing off on Gina. Tony leaves, but Gina runs after him. He slips her the $1,000 secretly, and tells her to spend it on whatever she wants and to give his mother a little from time to time. It is clear he cares very much about his sister, but as the film progresses it is shown that he is very overprotective of her, bordering on an obsession.
Some time later, while in Bolivia, Tony and Omar begin discussing business plans with plantation owner and drug kingpin Alejandro Sosa (Paul Shenar) on the behalf of Frank who couldn't make it down. Tony begins making major decisions about distribution of the drugs (decisions that Omar believes only Frank has authority to make). Omar and Tony begin arguing over the matter, while Alejandro offers Omar a quick helicopter ride back home. However, Alejandro orders one of his henchmen hang and kill Omar, gining as reason that Omar was allegedly an informant for the police some years back. However, Alejandro believes that Tony is trustworthy and makes him one of his business partners. After returning to Florida, Tony comes under heat by Frank, who is angry at what had occurred in South America and about his new business arrangement with Alejandro. Tony and Frank end their business relationship, while Tony begins making bolder passes at Elvira, one of them right in front of Frank.
One night at a nightclub, Tony is nearly shot and killed by two hitmen, later suggested to be the Diaz Brothers, two drug kingpins in charge of cocaine distribution in Miami. Tony manages to escape alive and is convinced that Frank is responsible for the hit. Later on, Tony, Manny, Chi Chi, and a few others track Frank down to his car dealership place. Tony tricks Frank into confirming he was behind the attempted hit. Admitting what he did, Frank then begs for mercy at Tony's feet but Manny kills Frank on Tony's order.
Afterwards, all seems to be going well for Tony. He marries Elvira, takes over Frank's empire and becomes very wealthy. He purchases a huge mansion, complete with countless luxury items, as well as many surveillance camera monitors. However, cracks in Tony's "perfect life" begin to form. Both he and Elvira become addicted to cocaine. He becomes more paranoid and distrusting of those around him, and she becomes bored and distant. Tony becomes greedy and stingy with his wealth, while the bank that he launders his illegally gotten cash wants increasingly large amounts of bribes to launder his money. Manny and Gina begin dating behind Tony's back, afraid of what his reaction would be if he found out.
One evening, Tony is arrested for money laundering and tax evasion by Mel Seidenbaum, a local money launder who turns out to be an undercover cop. Tony's lawyer tells him that he faces up to three years in prison alone for the income tax evasion charge. Soon, Elvira becomes tired of the lifestyle, and leaves Tony after a fight at a restaurant.
Alejandro Sosa, not wanting to lose his major distributor, calls Tony down to Bolivia and asks him for help to put a hit out on an anti-Bolivian Government activist (who went on a television talk show and mentioned Alejandro, his henchmen, and their drug dealing). In exchange, Alejandro will make Tony's imprisonment impossible with his White House contacts. Tony and Alberto, Alejandro's best henchman, travel to New York looking for the activist. Alberto plants a bomb under the activist's car, planning to detonate it before he drives to the United Nations building to give a speech about his activist work. On the day the assassination is to take place, Tony orders Alberto not to set off the bomb underneath the activist's car once he finds out his wife and children are in the car as well. When Alberto doesn't listen, Tony grows angry and shoots him in the head.
Tony returns to Florida to find his mother upset over Gina's new attitude (whom she believes Tony corrupted) and a furious Sosa phones Tony, threatening to kill him for not going through with the plan. Tony goes to find Gina at an unknown mansion, and sees her and Manny together in night robes. Realizing Manny has slept with his sister, he shoots and kills Manny in a cocaine-fueled rage (which he later deeply regrets) and Gina reveals that they just married and were going to surprise Tony. Tony and his men take a distraught Gina back to his mansion. Meanwhile, Alejandro Sosa's numerous henchmen are surrounding the place. Tony sits in his office snorting cocaine and in deep regret over his actions. Gina then enters his office and begins shooting at Tony with a pistol, but is killed by one of the henchmen entering through the window. As Tony cradles Gina's dead body in his arms, Sosa's army of assassins attack Tony's mansion, killing all of his men one by one, until Tony is left alone to fight them off. In a cocaine-fueled rage, he emerges from his office with an M16 assault rifle and grenade launcher, and begins shooting wildly at the attacking henchmen, killing dozens of them. He manages to take several of their bullets until Sosa's lead assassin (the same assassin who killed Omar) slowly walks up behind Tony and shoots him in the back with a shotgun. Tony plunges off the second floor, over the balcony, and into the small pool in his living room. Tony lies dead, floating face-down in the water as a statue stands above him reading "The World Is Yours".
Oliver Stone wrote the script in France while recovering from his own addiction to cocaine and also consulted with the Miami police and the Drug Enforcement Agency, incorporating many true crimes into the film, including using crime scene photos to inspire the infamous chainsaw scene.
Scarface was originally to be filmed in Florida but received criticism from the Cuban community who objected to various aspects of the film. Community representatives were opposed to the depiction of Cubans as drug dealers and demanded that the script be changed to incorporate anti-Fidel Castro rhetoric (most notably, changing Tony Montana into a spy working for Fidel Castro and the introduction of anti-Castro political organizations into the plot as foils for Montana) into the film. After protracted negotiations the producers ultimately refused to give in, saying the film was about cocaine and not the politics of Castro's Cuba. In order to ensure the safety of the crew and to avoid confrontations - with the exception being obvious exterior shots - the movie was filmed in and around Los Angeles.
In his review for Newsweek, David Ansen wrote, "If Scarface makes you shudder, it's from what you think you see and from the accumulated tension of this feral landscape. It's a grand, shallow, decadent entertainment, which like all good Hollywood gangster movies delivers the punch and counterpunch of glamour and disgust". Jay Scott, in his review for the Globe and Mail, writes, "For a while, Al Pacino is hypnotic as Montana. But the effort expended on the flawless Cuban accent and the attempts to flesh out a character cut from inch-thick cardboard are hopeless". In his review for the Washington Post, Gary Arnold wrote, "A movie that appeared intent on revealing an alarmingly contemporary criminal subculture gradually reverts to underworld cliche, covering its derivative tracks with outrageous decor and an apocalyptic, production number finale, ingeniously choreographed to leave the antihero floating face down in a literal bloodbath".
The first was released by Universal Studios Home Entertainment on the film's 15th anniversary in 1998 under the studio's "Collector's Edition" line. The DVD featured a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, a "Making of" documentary, outtakes, production notes and cast & crew bios. This release was not successful, and many fans and reviewers complained about its unwatchable video transfer and muddled sound, describing it as "one of the worst big studio releases out there" .
This DVD quietly went out of print and, in 2003, Universal released a remastered two disc "Anniversary Edition" to coincide with the film's 20th anniversary re-release, featuring two documentaries; one re-edited from the last release to include new interviews with Steven Bauer (Manny Ray) and another produced by Def Jam Recordings featuring interviews with various rappers on the film's cult success in the hip-hop world and other extras ported over from the previous DVD. New to this edition was a 2.35:1 Anamorphic widescreen transfer and 5.1 surround sound in both Dolby Digital and DTS.
Curiously, the limited theatrical re-release also boasted a remastered soundtrack with enhanced sound effects and music, but the DVD's 5.1 tracks were mixed from the film's original audio, resulting in noticeably limited frequency and surround effects. A limited-edition box set was also produced featuring a gold money clip, production stills, lobby cards and a DVD of the original Scarface. In 2005, Universal released single disc movie-only version of the Anniversary Edition, with deleted scenes as the sole bonus feature.
In the fall of 2006, Universal released Scarface in a two disc "Platinum Edition", featuring the remastered audio from the theatrical re-release in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround. Most of the extras (with the exception of the Def Jam documentary, production notes and cast & crew bios) from the Anniversary Edition were also included along with two new featurettes regarding the new video game and the criminal and cultural world of Miami in the 1980s. Also new to this edition was a "scoreboard", which counted number of bullets fired and uses of the word "fuck" throughout the film.
A licensed video game, Scarface: The World Is Yours, was released in September and October 2006 as well as an update in June 2007, developed by Radical Entertainment and published by Vivendi Universal Games. The game is a pseudo-sequel, and goes on the premise that Tony actually survived the raid on his mansion at the end of the film. Wii, PS2, Xbox, and PC versions have been released.
Radical and Vivendi also released a second licensed video game, Scarface: Money, Power, Respect, in October 2006. The game is much like Scarface: The World is Yours, but one main difference is that the second game deals more with the controlling of drugs and managing of the Montana cocaine empire and turf, whereas The World is Yours is mostly focused on getting rid of gangs, gaining respect and overall reconstruction of the empire. To date, only a PSP version of this game has been released.
The hit game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City also has some homages Scarface, like an area with the famous bloody bathroom in an empty apartment, along with a chainsaw that can be used as a weapon. Also the Malibu Club is very similar to the Babylon Club. In the beginning of the game, Tommy Vercetti's drug deal gets busted, much like the coke deal that Tony gets double crossed in. There is also a mission in the game where Tommy and his partner Lance Vance kill Tommy's cocaine-dealing boss Ricardo Diaz, much like when Tony and Manny kill Frank. Finally, the last mission of the game ("Keep Your Friends Close...") is a slight spin-off of the final scene in Scarface. In this mission Tommy has to fend off a whole rival gang in his mansion with only a few weapons. The only difference, however, is that Tommy lives through the fight with Ken Rosenberg to start "a new business relationship".
In 2007, IDW Publishing released a new series called Scarface: Scarred for Life, which picks up where the film ends; as in the video game, it depicts Tony Montana barely surviving the film's climactic shotgun blast and, with the aid of two corrupt DEA agents, recovering to rebuild his empire and seek revenge on Sosa. This series was written by John Layman, with art by Dave Crosland. IDW followed it in July 2007 with a prequel comic mini-series called Devil in Disguise, by Joshua Jabcuga and Alberto Dose, which shows Antonio's pre-boatlift days as a boy learning his way around the Cuban criminal underworld.
USA Network announced in 2003 they would be producing a mini-series based on the movie; however, the series' current status is unknown.
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