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In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.
Scarface is a 1983 film directed by Brian De Palma and written by Oliver Stone. That combination alone is Crazy Awesome. It is a loose remake of the 1932 film of the same name directed by Howard Hawks and written by Ben Hecht (both of whom the film is dedicated to). That movie is itself loosely based on the life of Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone.
Scarface centers on Antonio "Tony" Montana, played by the great Al Pacino. Tony is a Cuban refugee deported to Miami during the Mariel Boatlift of 1980, during which Castro sent off not only the relatives of Cuban-Americans abroad, but also the dregs of his jails. After arriving in America, Tony gets his green card by killing a former Castro official who tortured several people to death, including the brother of a Miami drug cartel boss named Frank Lopez.
Tony and his buddy Manolo Ribera take on a job for Frank's right-hand man Omar Suarez, which involves dealing with Colombian drug dealers. The job goes straight to hell, and in a memorably violent scene, Tony is forced to watch as another friend is killed with a chainsaw. Manny rescues Tony and they kill the dealers, getting away with both the money and the cocaine.
Tony and Manny, having proven themselves in Lopez's eyes, go to work for him. Tony meets Elvira, Frank's mistress, and starts getting eyes for her himself. He starts to develop aspirations for taking over Frank's business, and gets the chance to move up in the ranks when he meets Bolivian drug kingpin Alejandro Sosa, who fills him with dreams of greater things and also has Suarez executed for being a police informant. Tony's new way of handling things causes a falling-out with Frank, who sends a corrupt cop to intimidate him and a couple of hitmen to kill him. Tony kills the hitmen and escapes. Tony and Manny confront Lopez and the corrupt cop in Lopez's conference room and kill them both.
With Lopez gone, Tony wastes no time in skyrocketing right to the top of Miami's drug trade. He's got it all — money, power, and a beautiful wife in Elvira. But not everything is well and good in Tony's new kingdom. His success has attracted the attention of law enforcement, his family wants nothing to do with him, and he's becoming increasingly addicted to his own product, which feeds an ever-increasing paranoia that alienates everyone around him, which culminates in him gunning down Manny after catching him with Tony's sister Gina, whom Manny had married just prior and who Tony is very protective of. The protectiveness is so extreme it carries incestuous overtones — an element inspired by the earlier movie.
Tony's world comes crashing down when he gets caught in a major sting operation. Forced to assist in a hit orchestrated by Sosa to get his name cleared, Tony has a change of heart after seeing the target's wife and children get into the car to be destroyed and kills the hitman rather than kill innocents.
Sosa responds by sending an army of assassins to take Tony and his operation down. They besiege Tony's opulent mansion and kill everyone in it, including Gina. With no way out, Tony decides to go out with all guns blazing, and in a furious final stand preceded by the most famous quote of the movie, he blows away a score of Sosa's assassins with an M-16 and an M-203 grenade launcher before they finally take him down for good.
Scarface's graphic violence and language drew controversy and was panned by most critics, but has since developed a cult following and become an influential popular work. It was especially influential on Hip Hop culture.
In 2006, two spinoff video games were released, based on the premise that Tony managed to kill all of the attackers in the movie-ending shootout and escape with nothing left. The first, The World Is Yours, allows players to control Tony in sandbox-style gameplay as he seeks to rebuild his reputation and empire. It culminates in a visit to Bolivia where Sosa gets his comeuppance. The second, Money. Power. Respect., is a Turn-Based Strategy game where players make strategic decisions and command groups of minions. An unconnected comic series, Scarred for Life, follows the premise that Tony survived the supposedly-fatal shots.
Check the character sheet.
Say Hello to my list of tropes!
The original 1932 film contains examples of the following tropes:
- Anti-Villain: Tony Camonte
- Deadpan Snarker: Poppy
- Defrosting the Ice Queen: Somewhat more successful here, as Tony not only manages to win over Poppy but pretty much stays with her until he's gunned down.
- Despair Event Horizon: Cesca's death for Tony. The fact that Tony can even be scared seems to be Cesca's own Despair Event Horizon in turn.
- The Ditz: Angelo, Tony's "seckertary"
- Easily Forgiven: Although she initially plans to kill him, Cesca is rather quick to forgive Tony for killing Guido when it comes down to it.
- Heads or Tails: The Trope Codifier for gangsters who do this. Has been parodied in later movies, too.
- Villain Protagonist
- Villainous Incest: Even more blatant than in the 1983 film, and it doesn't seem to necessarily be one-sided, either.
The 1983 film contains examples of the following tropes:
- Adaptation Expansion: The '83 movie takes some basic plot elements and characters from the original and expands on them greatly.
- Addiction-Powered: Tony's cocaine allowed him to take a lot of punishment before going down.
- Anti-Hero: Or Anti-Villain? While Tony himself is a drug dealer, he also wishes to bring his family out of poverty. Not to mention unwilling to kill the journalist, along with his family.
- Asshole Victim: In the first half of the movie, Emilio Rebenga, Hector the Toad and his wife Martha. Then Omar, Frank and Mel Bernstein.
- And in the second half, Sosa's hitman, Alberto the Shadow when he plans to blow up the journalist's car, along with him and his family. Then afterwards, Manny Ribera. In the finale, Gina, all of Tony's men, including Ernie, Nick the Pig, Chi Chi and finally, Tony Montana himself. Man, it's hard to feel sympathy for any of these characters.
- A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: If Tony had thought out his actions he could have avoided the situation without antagonizing the only person who could have fixed the mess he was in.
- Badass: Tony. Hands down.
- Berserk Button: Tony does not like it when guys put the moves on his little sister. Played in a tragic way after he finds out Manny with Gina.
- BFG: Tony's "little friend."
- Bowdlerise: The TV version, to wonderful extents.
- How'd you get that scar, Tony? Eating Pineapple?
- This town's like a great big chicken just waiting to get plucked.
- The Latin American Spanish dub has a mild example: Sosa's nationality was changed from Colombian to Bolivian, possibly for avoid offending Colombian audiences. Other than that, the rest of the film was unchanged.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Tony's violent protectiveness toward Gina has serious elements of this.
- California Doubling: Although the film is set in Miami, the majority of it is shot in California.
- The Cartel
- Chainsaw Good: Tony's friend Angel is killed with a chainsaw during his first drug deal in the states.
- Cluster F-Bomb: This video sums it all nicely.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: "Hector the Toad", as well as Thug army < Tony < Sosa's assassin
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Tony tries and fails to do this with Elvira.
- Dirty Cop: Mel Bernstein, narcotics cop who's in league with Lopez.
- Doomed Moral Victor: Averted, Tony does not kill the Bolivian anti-drug activist. Later played straight however, with the circumstances leading to Tony's death.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: One modern-day reviewer feels that this was the film's chief flaw — the film tries to tell people that Tony's lifestyle only destroys him, but its glitzy, glamorous 1980s style is responsible for the massive Misaimed Fandom surrounding it.
- The Dragon: The Skull, for Sosa.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Although they are strained due to her being aware of Tony's criminal activities.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Tony does not kill women or kids, which gets him in serious trouble with Sosa. Carries over to The World Is Yours. Men too, so long as they're "not stupid enough to fuck with [Tony]."
- Evil Versus Evil: Tony is no saint, but Sosa and the other gangsters are worse.
Tony Montana: What you lookin' at? You all a bunch of fuckin' assholes. You know why? You don't have the guts to be what you wanna be. You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin' fingers and say, "That's the bad guy." So... what that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don't have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There's a bad guy comin' through! Better get outta his way!
- Good Scars, Evil Scars
- Good Times Montage: Push it to the limit! Limiiiiit!
- Gory Discretion Shot: Angel's death.
- Grenade Launcher: Tony's M203 in the final battle.
Tony Montana: Say 'ello to my little friend!
- Handguns: The hero or villain gun-type thing is subverted with Tony's M-16 and Sosa's pistol.
- Hookers and Blow
- Hope Spot: End of the film
- I Have No Son:
Tony's Mother: "Son? I wish I had one! He's a bum! He was a bum then and he's a bum now!"
- Ice Queen: Elvira.
- Implacable Man: Tony in the end, from the huge amounts of cocaine he took.
- Infant Immortality
- Instant Death Bullet: Averted by Tony until the very end.
- Jerkasses: Just about everyone in this movie, especially Tony and Elvira. Made particularly obvious because they all speak in Cluster F Bombs. However, Sosa is a big one.
- Word of God said that this is on purpose by making the characters deliberately unsympathetic, so that the audience won't feel a little bit sorry for them.
- Karma Houdini: Sosa... until the games and Scarred For Life.
- Kick the Dog: Sosa and the wife and children that would have been in the exploding car.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Or Shoot the Son of a Bitch in this case. Manny, as ordered by Tony, kills Frank not because he's a drug lord, but because he ordered an assassination on Tony.
- Also Tony killing Mel not because he's a corrupt cop, but because he was sent by Frank to keep watch on him. This thus begins Tony's rise as a kingpin.
- Kill'Em All: The film's ending.
- The Last Dance: Tony's last stand.
- Lonely At the Top: In spades.
- Made of Iron: Tony at the end, due to being seriously coked-up.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits: Gina, according to Tony.
- Never Hurt an Innocent: Tony follows this rule.
- Noble Demon: Tony.
- Number Two: Manny to Tony.
- Parental Abandonment: Tony's father has left the family.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: The famous quote under Memetic Mutation.
- Politically-Incorrect Villain: The reason why Tony does not likes working with Colombians.
- Psycho Serum: The partial-Implacability through cocaine.
- Psycho Strings: The creepy tune that picks up every time Tony notices a guy hanging around Gina a little too closely.
- Redemption Equals Death: After Tony proves he's not so bad after all, he gets attacked and killed by Sosa's men.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When Sosa's army is storming his mansion, Tony is too coked up and too depressed from how badly his life has gone to do anything to stop them...until one of the hitmen shoots his little sister Gina.
- Same Language Dub: The two immigration officers that interview Tony at the start of the film were dubbed by someone else. They were dubbed by Charles Durning and Dennis Franz.
- Sanity Slippage: Tony gets more crazier and insanier every passing week or month due to his coke addiction.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules: Tony's mother when he briefly reunites with her and offers her and his sister some money he had gotten... from less than honest ways.
- The Siege: The final siege of the mansion at the end of the movie.
- Setting Update: Essentially the remake moves the plot from mid 20th century Chicago to 1983 Miami.
- Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: Invoked by Tony himself, where his restriction of jobs to kitchen duty leads him to continue down the path to a life of crime.
- And again during the finale when he yells at his attackers as he gets shot many times in the mansion, just before The Skull kills him.
- The Stool Pigeon: Sosa believed Omar to have been this and dealt with him thusly.
- Tragic Mistake: Tony killing Sosa's hitman resulted in antagonizing the one person who could have helped him out of his mess. Granted, the hitman deserved it, but that one act triggered Tony's downfall.
- Unintentional Period Piece
- Unstoppable Rage: Played straight then subverted at the mansion siege.
- Villain Protagonist
- Villainous Breakdown: In the last several minutes of the movie. Tony is alone in his office, coked out of his mind, being hit with the Heel Realization of killing his best friend ("What did I do? Oh Manny, what the fuck did I do?"). He sees Sosa's men on the security monitors and tries to recover. "We gotta get organized," he mumbles, trying to gather his thoughts, but there's no one to listen. He picks up a phone, but drops it without dialing; there's nobody to call. He needs someone he can trust to help him, but he's driven away or killed everyone that fits that profile. He's all alone and about to die and only has himself to blame.
- Villainous Incest: Tony can't have his sister and consequently doesn't want anyone else to have her. This is lampshaded by her right before she's gunned down.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: How Tony proves he's not so bad.
- It's an interesting example, because protecting children by killing Sosa's assassin leads directly to Tony's death. On the other hand, he's only in that situation because he agreed to help kill an innocent man who'd done nothing to him. The moral of that particular story is left ambiguous.
- You Bastard: The movie itself spend the first half of the duration challenging our sympathies for the protagonist, who is actually an asshole who constantly say curse words, kill other criminals, selling drugs and abusing his sister.