The Mambo Kings—Warner Brothers
The Mambo Kings traces the fictional rise and eventual fall of two salsa siblings in the United States. Antonio Banderas, as the brooding but more talented younger brother, made his American film debut in this 1992 film and delivered his lines phonetically, as he spoke little English. But it's the music that sells this; both Banderas and Armand Assante, playing the suave, business-minded half of the duo, are utterly convincing as Cuban musical ambassadors circa the 1950s New York. On a bigger scale, according to the director in his commentary track, this is an American story about immigrants coming to this country in search of the American dream, having it in their hands, then losing it.
The commentary track, which should enhance your enjoyment of the film, is one of just two extras to be found here; the other is a clich-filled five-minute promotional piece that's hardly worth the disc space.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic picture is not razor-sharp but is drenched with color, with everything from the pastels of the Palladium Mambo club to nice renderings of Assante's garish ties. And the Digital Dolby 5.1 soundtrack delivers the goods during the musical numbers, of which there are many.
Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and sharing many traits with the best musical biographies, The Mambo Kings is an enjoyable, breezy couple of hours punctuated by some terrific tunes.