A List Of Mexican Gangster Movies

Movies are a powerful tool for storytelling and Mexican gangster films use this tool to entertain and educate viewers. As the name suggests, they revolve around criminals and the criminal underworld, ranging from the drug trafficking gangs to the mafia-esque families. And as these stories have captivated audiences all over the world, Mexican cinemas have delivered some of the finest gangster movies of recent times. Here is a list of some Mexican gangster movies that have had lasting impacts on the genre.

Amores Perros (2000)

Amores Perros is a striking portrayal of Mexico City’s gritty underbelly. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, the movie follows three individuals whose lives are intersected by violent events. Though none of the characters are gangsters per se, there’s no denying the significant influence of the city’s criminal underworld. It serves as the movie’s backdrop, an ever-present reminder of the dangers that lurk beyond the reach of the law.

As the title suggests, the story deals with its characters’ love that was affected by the chaotic events that transpired in the city. Highlighting human desires and fragility in the face of class disparities and street violence, Amores Perros packs a brutal yet necessary punch.

Sicario (2015)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Sicario is a taut thriller that follows an FBI agent as she fights against the dangerous drug cartels that plague the Mexico-America borderlands. It’s an action-filled journey that’s full of intense moments and thought-provoking moral dilemmas. The movie offers an unflinching look at the country’s criminal underworld and the characters that inhabit it.

Set during the height of the drug war, the story follows FBI agent Kate Macer as she attempts to take down the cartels. As she delves deeper into the investigation, she discovers the harsh realities of the criminal justice system. The movie does its best to offer a balanced perspective, setting up a situation where the audience is left to make up their own minds.

El Infierno (2010)

El Infierno is a particularly violent take on the Mexican gangster genre. Directed by Luis Estrada, it follows the story of two illegal migrants as they attempt to make their way back home. After a series of misadventures, the two find themselves stuck in a nightmare from which there seems to be no escape.

The movie offers biting social commentary on the state of Mexico’s criminal underworld. It showcases the plight of innocent people caught in the middle of a war between the government and the powerful drug cartels. The movie also serves to remind audiences of just how deeply ingrained corruption is in the country’s political and social system.

Cantinflas (2014)

Cantinflas is a touching tribute to one of Mexico’s most beloved comedians and actors. Directed by Sebastián Del Amo, the movie follows a young Cantinflas as he rises from poverty to stardom. Along the way, he works with various production companies and finds himself at crossroads with gangsters on multiple occasions.

While it’s not a traditional Mexican gangster movie, Cantinflas is an important reminder of just how pervasive the influence of crime was in Mexican culture during the time. It’s a fascinating look at the country’s entertainment industry and the social issues it dealt with during the height of Cantinflas’ career.

What the Future Holds for Mexican Gangster Films

The Mexican film industry has evolved and grown significantly since these renowned gangster films made their mark. Young filmmakers are becoming increasingly interested in the genre, eager to explore its depths and show the world the power of Mexican cinema. With advancements in technology, more and more sophisticated stories are being told and Mexican cinema is sure to become an even bigger player in the global entertainment industry in the near future.

Controversy Surrounding Mexican Gangster Movies

Given the genre’s reliance on criminal activities and its often-brutal depiction of violence and human suffering, it’s not surprising that some Mexican gangster movies have courted controversy. These movies have been slammed by some critics for romanticizing or glorifying criminal behavior. Others have argued that these movies fail to accurately portray Mexico’s social and political reality. This has led to a debate that continues to this day.

Despite the controversy, Mexican filmmakers have continued to explore different aspects of the genre. The country’s film industry has grown in leaps and bounds and these movies have helped shine a light on Mexico’s vibrant culture and its many hidden stories.

The Impact of Mexican Gangster Movies on Pop Culture

There’s no denying that Mexican gangster movies have had a significant impact on pop culture. From Arrested Development to South Park, the genre has served as the inspiration for various TV shows and movies. There’s also the increasing popularity of crime drama that’s seen in shows such as Narcos and Breaking Bad, both of which owe a significant debt to the Mexican gangster movies of the past.

The influence of these movies can also be seen in video games such as Grand Theft Auto and in the music of artists such as Emilio Navaira, Juan Gabriel, and other Latino artists. With its mix of thrilling action and thought-provoking storytelling, Mexican gangster films have made a lasting impact on the entertainment industry.

Real-World Implications of Mexican Gangster Movies

While the cinematic appeal of Mexican gangster movies can’t be denied, there are some who argue vehemently against them. Many argue that these movies glamorize criminal behavior and make it seem as though it’s an acceptable way of life. Others argue that these movies do not accurately portray the real experiences of Mexican citizens, who are often victims of the criminal underworld.

Those against the genre point out that Mexico is struggling with various poverty-related issues, and these movies only add to the glamorization of crime and criminal behavior. But regardless of the opinion of its critics, the genre remains popular with viewers, and it continues to offer an array of stories that often challenge viewers to think about the implications of crime and violence in Mexican society.


From classic classics such as Amores Perros to modern masterpieces like Sicario, Mexican gangster movies have come a long way. They offer unsettling yet thought-provoking explorations of Mexico’s criminal underworld and its impact on the everyday lives of its citizens. While some see them as glorifying gang culture, there is no denying their lasting impact on pop culture and real-world issues.

Vicki Strouth is a life-long film enthusiast, having grown up watching classic cinema in her childhood. She has since gone on to pursue writing about films and movie news, with her work being published on various online platforms. She is passionate about supporting independent filmmakers and highlighting important stories from around the world. She has also written a successful book about classic movies from Hollywood's Golden Age era. Vicki currently lives in Seattle, where she continues to explore films of all genres and eras.

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