American Me


After spending most of his life in prison, Mexican Mafia leader Montoya Santana is released and falls in love for the first time, even as he struggles to reassimilate into a much-changed outside world. As he does, he begins to have second thoughts about his gang life, which began when he was a boy.

EJO's Role

Edward James Olmos in American Me

Mr. Olmos is the lead, playing the gang leader Montoya Santana. He also directed and produced the film.

The Numbers

American Me was released by Universal Studios on March 13, 1992. The runtime is 125 minutes.

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My Take

American Me spans 30 years of Santana Montoya's life in the barrio and prison. It is an impressive, terribly brutal movie at times but the violence is neither gratuitous nor sensationalized. The film looks and plays almost like a documentary in some respects, and viewers are warned in advance about the content.

Mr. Olmos, who has shown a knack for cutting to the psychological quick in his direction, holds nothing back in this, his directorial debut, creating a film that is both powerful and unsettling in what appears to be an honest and unflinching look at the cycle of gang violence and life in the barrio.

This is not a movie for the family, nor the faint of heart, but I found it enlightening and think Mr. Olmos should be incredibly proud of this work.

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EJO began his entertainment career as lead singer of a band called Pacific Ocean.


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