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Cocaine Cowboys

  R Closed Captioning

Billy Corben

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About the Movie

In the early '80s, a new business emerged in Miami, FL, that changed the face of the city forever. That business was cocaine smuggling; as America developed a growing appetite for the drug, Colombian suppliers found that Miami was a good place to bring it into the United States, and a new breed of outlaws were more than happy to face the risks of importing cocaine in exchange for the massive profits to be made. At one time, cocaine runners were making so much money that the city's banks were running out of room to store the cash, and smugglers were developing new ways to move the product, from floating tanks with radio tracking devices dropped into the ocean to cars stashed with drugs so well-connected drivers with tow trucks could haul them away and abandon them if necessary. The profits from Miami's cocaine explosion helped to transform the city into a major American playground, but it also brought a criminal element interested in more than just dealing drugs, as bloody reprisals between competing gangs of smugglers became commonplace, and hitmen began working overtime to keep up with the demand for revenge. Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman are a pair of Miami-based filmmakers who were able persuade a number of key figures from Miami's '80s cocaine trade to speak on-camera about their exploits, as well as law enforcement officials who struggled to keep up with them. The result was Cocaine Cowboys, a true-life thriller about the underworld culture that helped spawn the film Scarface and the television series Miami Vice. Jan Hammer, who composed the Miami Vice theme song, created a like-minded score for the documentary.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 49
  • Fresh: 34
  • Rotten: 15
  • Average Rating: 6.4/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Rotten: A hyperventilating account of the blood-drenched Miami drug culture in the 1970s and 80s. – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times, Jul 16, 2008

Fresh: As sensational as Scarface and a lot livelier than that Miami Vice movie. – Michael Rechtshaffen, Hollywood Reporter, Jun 24, 2010

Fresh: This is an ugly film, but with an undeniable allure. – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov 11, 2006

Fresh: If The Godfather movies were based on real gangsters and some of them were still around to talk about the good old days, they might be as fascinating as the characters in Billy Corben's documentary about the cocaine import business in 1970s Miami. – Jack Mathews, New York Daily News, Jun 24, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

This move is so dope

No need to rent it anyways, you will waste $3 because you are going to buy it right after. I've seen this movie 10 times, bought it twice and about to buy it here and put it on my Ipod. Holla.

Not very good

If you grew up thinking the Discovery Channel made good documentaries you might think this is a great one.

There's really no depth to it at all. It's gust a gloss over of events as told by a few insiders. You get no real sense of the impact of cocaine on the culture itself, the repercussions, or in the case of a hit man any sense of morality.

It's no Ken Burns, that's for sure.


dont worry about renting, its on in regular rotation on showtime. Watch it there and then come back here and buy it because you definitely want this one in your collection.