This exposé of the thriving cocaine trade in Florida during the late 70s and early 80s is an unapologetically sensational and furiously entertaining example of doco filmmaking as tabloid crack.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2007
Unapologetically sensational and furiously entertaining, Cocaine Cowboys is one jaw-dropping example of documentary filmmaking as tabloid crack. Apparently edited on speed, Billy Corben’s exposé of the thriving cocaine trade in Florida during the late 70s and early 80s is the perfect antidote to anyone who found Michael Mann’s recent Miami Vice remake a total snorefest. In charting how the multi-billion dollar cocaine industry unleashed its plague-like grip on what was once a sleepy holiday destination, the film packs a ton of compelling, often funny anecdotes. These are shared first-hand by convicted traffickers, into a pulse-pounding two hours, perfectly complemented by Jan Hammer’s vigorous electro soundtrack. Detailed accounts of smuggling operations, corpse-strewn drug wars, rampant police corruption and unsavoury characters like psycho crime-mistress Griselda Blanco (who’s crying out for her own movie) add to a lurid, immensely riveting portrait of a milieu so grimy and gory it’d make Crockett and Tubbs soil their pastel slacks.