Jay Hernandez, Mario Van Peebles, Michael Kelly, Mtume Gant, Sean Combs, Luis Guzmán, Jaclyn DeSantis and Burt Young

Michael Scott Bregman

Running Time:
100 mins

Out to buy on DVD 14/11/05

"It's the only thing they understand"

1960s New York. After meeting in prison, Earl (Van Peebles), Rocco (Kelly) and Carlito (Hernandez) come up with a plan that will unite the black, Italian and Porto Rican crime syndicates to make money from the growing influx of heroin. As the money starts to roll in, the trio become major players but their newly acquired power breeds jealousy and greed amongst their rivals and family, making them targets for a takeover.

Twelve years after the release of the first film, Carlito Brigante returns to the silver screen but can this prequel capture the power of the Brian De Palmer's 1993 original?

Based on the first of the Carlito novels by Edwin Torres, 'Carlito's Way' (De Palmer movie was based on the second novel 'After Hours') the film reveals how Carlito rose to power by becoming one of the biggest heroin suppliers in 1960s Harlem. Of course none of the players from the original 1993 movie return but screenwriter/director Michael Scott Bregman has gathered a good cast to bring Carlito's early career to life.

Stepping into the shoes of Al Pacino is a daunting task for any actor and Jay Hernandez has his work cut out. While no one has the presence of Pacino, Hernandez struggles to create any impact in this leading role. He is a decent actor but he just doesn't have the strength or power to make you believe that Carlito will grow into the power drug czar we know he becomes. Mario Van Peebles is a talented actor who has never really lived up to his potential. As Earl, the representative of the black crime syndicate, he does provide a strong character for the film, but due to the limitations of the script he doesn't have as much screen time, as the character deserves. Michael Kelly's Rocco also doesn't have much screen time, making the story of three races coming together have less of an impact than the film really needs.

On the supporting side, Jaclyn DeSantis makes a noticeable impact as Carlito's girlfriend Leticia. Luis Guzmán returns to the franchise as a different character to which he played in the De Palmer flick. Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs takes another step into acting as local mob boss Hollywood Nicky. Burt Young is the head of the local Mafia family Artie Bottolota Sr. There is also a good performance from Mtume Gant as Earl brother Reggie but with a lack of any background to the character, you really don't understand his true motivations for what he does later in the film.

'Carlito's Way: Rise to Power' is a direct to DVD release and you can tell. The budgetary restriction and the lack of real impact by the plot and lead character mean that his is a missed opportunity. The film just misses too much out, leaving far too many plot holes and missing back stories to make the film as coherent as it should have been. Fans of the Pacino/De Palmer film will be disappointed.


Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the movie is presented well.


Deleted Scenes (7.06 mins)
Five deleted scenes covering more of Carlito's backstory, him in prison, more of Hollywood Nicky and more interaction with the police. The lack of a commentary track or introduction means that you don't know why they were removed.

Gag Reel (6.08 mins)
See Luis Guzmán, Burt Young and Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs make a hash of their lines.

Got your Back: Carlito's brothers in Crime (5.37 mins)
Producer Martin Bergman and stars Jay Hernandez, Michael Kelly, Mario Van Peebles, Burt Young and Jaclyn DeSantis talk about 60s Harlem and the integration of blacks, Porto Ricans and Italians as the relationship between Earl, Rocco and Carlito drives the film.

Bringing the Hood to Life (7.59 mins)
Producer Martin Bergman, location manager Greg Routt, production designer Dan Leigh, director of photography Adam Holender and stars Jay Hernandez, Michael Kelly, Mario Van Peebles, Burt Young, Gaincarlo Esposito and Jaclyn DeSantis talk about shooting in modern Harlem and giving it a 1960s look.

Making Of Documentary (11.44 mins)
Writer/Director Michael Bergman, producer Martin Bergman, author Ed Torres and stars Jay Hernandez, Michael Kelly, Mario Van Peebles, Burt Young, Gaincarlo Esposito and Jaclyn DeSantis take you behind the scenes of the prequel. Here we find out about the story behind the books and the characters. The making off featurette takes you behind the scenes of the Harlem shoot.

Set Tour with Earl (3.41 mins)
Mario Van Peebles takes you on a tour of the Harlem shoot and reveals the secrets behind the 60s costumes and cars used on the film.

Watch the 'Carlito's Way: Rise to Power' trailer and previews of 'Carlito's Way: DVD' and 'The Skeleton Key'.


For a direct to video release, Universal has done a good job with 'Carlito's Way: Rise to Power'. The featurettes are decent but the lack of a commentary track is disappointing. Fans of the original and the prequel should be pleased with the


Carlito's Way

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