Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: Cocaine Cowboys (DVD)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana
Apparently, the real Noriega owes Rick Ross a hundred favors. But while we determine whether or not the Miami rapper’s lyrics are fictitious or not, let’s direct our attention to the rap Noreaga who personally endorsed the film Cocaine Cowboys (Magnolia Enterainment) in a song of the same name. This Magnolia Entertainment released documentary is dedicated to Miami’s cocaine trade of the 1970’s and 1980’s. You’ll hear names like Jon Roberts, La Madrina, Pablo Escobar, Mickey Munday. You’ll see places like Dade County and Miami Beach, and finally you’ll see shocking things like planes landing into undisclosed runways with tons of kilos and white vans with whole depots of automatic weapons.
Some will say that the crime families who distributed cocaine during this epoch in Miami’s history were shrewd business men. Others will say that they werea bunch of street thugs who got lucky. Either way, producer Billy Corben narrates the families’ infamous journeys as they built Florida up from swamplands to a drug empire that at one point accounted for 95% of the cocaine shipped into United States.
Even though Cocaine Cowboys is structurally a documentary, it has the vivid spirit of a motion picture. The film includes exclusive footage of live executions along with brilliant still shots and crazy plot twists. The documentary structure, however, also allows the filmmakers to provide fascinating facts about cocaine distribution during the 1980’s. The film is thoroughly researched supplying cool facts such as how the majority of one dollar bills circulating in Florida during the 80’s had some trace of cocaine residue and how smugglers communicated through short wave radio with phrases like “the cattle is ready.”
At the same time, the cocaine trade is an easy topic. Hip-hop has had quite a fixation with mafia related operations, so just the title of the film will arouse ears. Cocaine Cowboys shows us how vital the cocaine business was to Miami’s economy. The look-outs ate well and the transporters made a year’s salary in a week. The cops were bribed, the mayors invested, and the Federal Reserve Bank bloomed. Unlike most drug trade inspired films, Cocaine Cowboys makes viewers feel like they learned something. Sure, the over glorifying of drugs and violence is present, but a little indulgence every now and then is not too unhealthy.