The Mambo Kings
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New York art dealer Arne Glimcher took his first crack at film directing with this florid, high-energy romance about two brothers who flee Cuba in the early 1950s to make it as musicians in the United States. Cynthia Cidre wrote the literate screenplay adapted from Oscar Hijuelos's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Cesar (Armand Assante) and Nestor Castillo (Antonio Banderas) are popular musicians on Havana's club circuit, but when they make enemies of the wrong people, they are forced to leave for New York City, the moody Nestor leaving behind his true… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"A spirited evocation of the mambo craze which swept post-war America, adapted from Oscar Hijuelos' Pulitzer Prize-winning novel."
‑ Derek Adams, Time Out
"A corny, eye-filling concoction of sound and strife, it recalls the heyday of a dance craze with the Technicolor splash of a 1950s musical."
‑ Rita Kempley, Washington Post
‑ Clint Morris, Moviehole
"Another award worthy performance by Armand Assante that wasn't recognized. And a great song."
‑ Michael A. Smith, Nolan's Pop Culture Review
"Constantly, the movie gives you the feeling of being drastically truncated, with hints of storylines that are never fully played out."
‑ Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle
"It's as if there were a terrible telephone connection between the film's vivid sound track and its tepid romantic melodrama, to which the music is supposed to give style and substance."
‑ Vincent Canby, New York Times
"In some ways this story is as old as the movies, but "The Mambo Kings" is so filled with energy, passion and heedless vitality that it seems new, anyway."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"Fun, flashy musical with Banderas in early role."
‑ Steve Crum, Kansas City Kansan
"Armand Assante gives the most robust and impressive performance of his career as Cesar, a musician whose lust for life affects all those around him."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
""The Mambo Kings" is so pumped up with life it threatens to burst. It's beautifully filmed and flashily edited. It pulsates with rhythmic ecstasy. It throbs, it sweats, it pounds, it undulates."
‑ Desson Thomson, Washington Post
"The Mambo Kings is a tinsel-edged dream of a movie."
‑ , Entertainment Weekly
"Terrific music and a boatload of high energy can't quite compensate for a thin plot and weak characterizations...."
‑ John J. Puccio, Movie Metropolis
""The Mambo Kings" is fairly conventional in story and structure - but oh, that music. The audience will be ready to dance in the aisles."
‑ Chris Hicks, Deseret News, Salt Lake City
More reviews for The Mambo Kings on Rotten Tomatoes