In 1968, Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), the limo driver-turned-right-hand man of Harlem gangster Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson (Clarence Williams III), inherits Johnson's gang when Johnson dies of a heart attack. Disliking the new, flashy gangsters of the neighborhood, Lucas decides to take control of Harlem's crime scene.nnMeanwhile, Newark detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is hated in his precinct for being honest. After his exiled and addicted partner (John Ortiz) dies from accidentally overdosing on a relatively low-priced but unusually potent brand of heroin called "Blue Magic", Captain Lou Toback (Ted Levine) puts Roberts in charge of a task force targeting major drug trafficking in Essex County, New Jersey. The investigation will focus on the actual supplier rather than the middle-men.nnBlue Magic is being supplied by Lucas, who has decided to buy his drugs directly from producers in Thailand, which are then smuggled by U.S. servicemen returning from the Vietnam War. This allows Lucas to provide a higher quality product at a cheaper price than his rivals, eventually wholesaling drugs to most of the dealers in the New York area. With Blue Magic's monopoly, Lucas quickly makes a fortune, buying several nightclubs to control the casino and prostitution ring as well, and a large estate in New Jersey for his humble mother (Ruby Dee). Lucas' five brothers, including Huey (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Turner (Common), are enlisted as his lieutenants in the drug trade and set up shop each at one of various locations throughout the five boroughs. During his rise to becoming the biggest gang leader and drug dealer in Harlem, Lucas meets and falls in love with Eva (Lymari Nadal), a Puerto Rican beauty queen.nnAs Lucas' business prospers, he makes a point of operating quietly and dressing with a modest conservatism both as a sign of strength and to avoid attracting the attention of the police, since he is relatively unknown to them and they are still far from finding the supplier of the Blue Magic. Also, he himself stays away from the drugs to avoid making hard decisions under the influence. However, Lucas disregards this habit while attending the Fight of the Century with Eva, sporting a gaudy chinchilla fur coat and hat given to him by Eva; Roberts attends the fight, notices the previously unknown Lucas with the coat with even better seats than the Italian mobsters, and decides to investigate him.nnMeanwhile, Lucas is forced to contend with Lucchese mafia boss Dominic Cattano (Armand Assante), who threatens him with destroying his family unless he gets a cut of a deal, and corrupt NYPD detectives such as Nick Trupo (Josh Brolin), who attempts to extort and blackmail him to give them a cut. Lucas must also compete with local crime figure Nicky Barnes (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), a young gun motivated to take over Harlem who has been diluting Lucas' Blue Magic and selling it under the same brand name. Things take a turn for the worse when the Fall of Saigon cuts off Lucas' supply, forcing him to rely on the other crime rings.nnRoberts' detectives witness Frank Lucas' cousin (Malcolm Goodwin) shoot a woman and then use his driver's predicament to get him to wear a wire. This allows Roberts and his task force to identify and search one of the last planes carrying Lucas' stock, discovering Blue Magic in the coffins of returning war dead service-members; this evidence allows them to obtain a warrant to follow drugs into Newark's projects and Lucas' heroin processing facility. This results in a shootout, in which Steve Lucas (T.I.), Frank Lucas' young cousin who gave up a promising career for the New York Yankees to join Lucas' family, is killed. Meanwhile, Trupo and his men break into Lucas' mansion and kill his dog in order to steal his emergency cash supply hidden under the doghouse. Earlier, Lucas had Trupo's prized Shelby Mustang destroyed, and although he is now out for Trupo's life, his mother dissuades him from killing a cop, warning him that she and Eva will leave him if he does. Lucas is arrested after Roberts' team conducts a raid on all of his shops run by his brothers.nnIn the police station, Roberts gives Lucas a chance at a shorter jail sentence if he aids his investigation. Lucas initially offered to bribe Roberts, but in the end Lucas provides Roberts with the names of dirty cops in the NYPD, out of respect for Roberts' incorruptibility. In the end, three quarters of the New York DEA are arrested and convicted, and a distraught Trupo commits suicide to avoid arrest. Roberts, having passed the bar exam, prosecutes Lucas, who once condemned provides evidence that leads to more than one-hundred further drug-related convictions, while he himself is sentenced to 70 years in prison, of which he serves 15 years and is released in 1991.…More
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