Cocaine Cowboys: The Ultimate Gangster Edition Billy Corben

Cocaine Cowboys: The Ultimate Gangster Edition Billy Corben
With cover art emblazoned with rolled up dollar bills, lines of cocaine, razor blades and semi-automatic weapons, along with a subtitle that amusingly reads "The Ultimate Gangster Edition," Cocaine Cowboys truly strives to appease the lowest common denominator, a demographic that will most certainly view the two-disc DVD set on 60-inch plasmas purchased with funds acquired from questionable sources. Attention is unlikely to waver throughout the doc, given the propensity for rapid-fire cuts between packaged cocaine, piles of money and real dead bodies, in addition to some extremely literal artistic re-creations, photography and found footage. Included in the "Gangster Edition" are both Cocaine Cowboys, the original documentary about the Miami drug trade in the '70s and '80s, as well as the bizarre and inadvertently hilarious sequel Cocaine Cowboys II, which examines the relationship between Oakland drug kingpin Charles Cosby (introduced on the doc as a "real nigga," as opposed to a false one) and Griselda Blanco, the psychotic Columbian Godmother of cocaine trafficking. While the original documentary is overly ostentatious and derivative, it does tell the story of Miami drug importing, street wars and the resultant economic viability in a digestible and pragmatic light. The sequel, however, is riddled with every "gangster" cliché imaginable and edited together with artistic re-enactments of hearsay events, involving drive-by shootings, explicit sex acts and animated labia. With interviewees pointing guns at the camera, a particularly exuberant gold-toothed fellow and the repeated utterance of the phrase, "You know what I mean?," CCII may be worth a viewing just for the "is this a joke?" factor. Included with the DVDs are many photo and art galleries of images on display throughout the docs, as well as commentary from directory Billy Corben and co-producer David Cypkin, which is about as self-congratulatory and chatty as one might expect. The real treat of the two-disc documentary is the 15-minute "Making Of Cocaine Cowboys II: Hustlin' With Charles Crosby," which is so embarrassing to watch that it's genuinely difficult not to flinch. (Mongrel Media)