6 Best Mexican drug cartel (gangster) movies of all time

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Looking for action, suspense, and gore? Discover the dark underworld of kingpins, cartels, and crime with the top Mexican cartel movies of all time.

Contents

1. A Man Apart (2003)

2. Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

3. The Mule (2018)


4. Prayers for the Stolen (2021)

5. Narco Cultura (2013)

6. Sicario (2015)

The most riveting cinematic offerings are often inspired by real life, and Mexican cartel movies are no exception. In the 1960s, bulk weed seeds were the bread and butter of many drug syndicates.

Today, Mexico’s drug trade is much more diverse. It’s a dark underworld that has birthed countless films; some bewildering, others educational, and a few that are downright terrifying.

Ready for explosive action, gut-wrenching plot twists, and sobering tales of triumph? Check out the top six drug cartel movies below.

1. A Man Apart (2003)

If you’re a fan of mercenary-style revenge plots and nail-biting action, this piece of narco cinema is worth a watch. Starring Vin Diesel, A Man Apart tells the tale of an American DEA officer-turned-vigilante seeking justice for his wife’s murder.

After DEA agent Sean Vetter arrests Mexican drug lord ‘Memo’ Lucero, a dangerous new kingpin appears. He orders a hit on Vetter, but Vetter’s wife dies instead.

With nothing left to lose, the distraught DEA agent enlists Lucero’s help to bring down the mysterious new cartel boss, one gory murder at a time.

2. Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

Mexican cartel movies aren’t complete without corruption, conspiracy, and crime. Once Upon a Time in Mexico offers a healthy dose of these elements and some revenge.

Filmed in the iconic streets of Guanajuato, this action flick revolves around a power-hungry kingpin played by Willem Dafoe. It features an all-star cast with Antonio Banderas, Johnny Depp, and Salma Hayek.

With unexpected plot twists and spine-chilling characters, the third installment of the Desperado franchise certainly doesn’t disappoint.

3. The Mule (2018)

This movie about Mexico’s cartel underworld was inspired by the true story of Leo Sharp, a war veteran from the US. He became a drug courier for the Sinaloa Cartel before his arrest in 2011 at 87 years old.

Directed by Clint Eastwood (who also plays the main character Earl Stone), The Mule takes viewers on a rollercoaster of emotions. A desperate war veteran accepts a job from a gangster to move massive amounts of cocaine. Before long, the DEA is hot on his heels.

4. Prayers for the Stolen (2021)

With multiple awards and nominations under its belt, Prayers for the Stolen is one of the best cartel movies of recent times. It portrays the all-too-real horrors of Mexico’s ongoing drug war through the eyes of three young girls.

Ana and her two friends live in a rural village in San Miguel, Jalisco, where drug cartels rule and human trafficking is common. The girls, forced to wear their hair short by their terrified parents, find joy in nature’s splendor and comfort in each other.

Despite its harrowing nature, this oscar-nominated Mexican film avoids scenes of graphic drug violence. Director Tatiana Huezo captures heart-wrenching terror and the infallible human spirit in a coming-of-age tale like no other.

5. Narco Cultura (2013)

Not all Mexican narco movies are fiction. Narco Cultura is a documentary film about gang violence and its resulting subculture, narcocorridos.

Director Shaul Schwarz takes viewers deep into the everyday life of a CSI investigator in Ciudad Juárez, dubbed “The World’s Homicide Capital.” He also investigates the music and culture glamorizing the drug trade from a narcocorrido band member’s perspective.

Narco Cultura is one of the most thought-provoking drugs and cartel movies you’ll ever watch. It’s a definite must-see.

6. Sicario (2015)

Sicario is a brutal movie about a Mexican mafia gang taken down by the FBI. It follows the trials of FBI Agent Kate Macer, who joins a covert task force to bring the Sonora Cartel to justice.

Action-packed and suspenseful, Sicario leaves you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. With nail-biting performances by Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio Del Toro, this oscar-nominated action-thriller even inspired a trilogy.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado was released in 2018, and Sicario: Capos is currently under development.

Jennifer Gallagher

Jennifer Gallagher

Jennifer Gallagher, an experienced cannabis grower at SeedSupreme Seedbank. During a 7-year career in the marijuana growing business, Jennifer has gained a high competence in this field. As far as weed is concerned, she knows it all inside out. Jennifer is an expert in pot-growing, as well as cannabis types and their effects. She’s also familiar with all legislation nuances.

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