cocaine cowboys

The cocaine trade of the 70s and 80s had an indelible impact on contemporary Miami. Smugglers and distributors forever changed a once sleepy retirement community into one of the world’s most glamorous hot spots, the epicenter of a $20 billion annual business fed by Colombia’s Medellin cartel. By the early 80s, Miami’s tripled homicide rate had made it the murder capital of the country, for which a Time cover story dubbed the city “Paradise Lost.”

With Cocaine Cowboys, filmmaker Billy Corben paints a dazzling portrait of a cultural explosion that still echoes as Hollywood myth. Composer of the original “Miami Vice” theme, Jan Hammer, provides the score.


GQ (UK): "If you needed further proof that the documentaries currently coming out of America are better than the films being produced by Hollywood, look no further."

New York Magazine: “Billy Corben’s often hilarious, exuberant documentary practically celebrates the bloodbath that was Miami’s cocaine heyday.”  

Reuters - “ As sensational as "Scarface" and a lot livelier than that "Miami Vice" movie”  

MTV - “Bullets fly and dead bodies drop like whacked weeds in this startling documentary about the bad old days of the Miami drug trade. “  

FIlm Threat: “it packs the furious momentum and dramatic punch of a riveting feature film”  

Time Out New York - “a well-researched documentary charting the scary real-life crimes that made living in miami a nightmare”  

Orlando Weekly - "Cocaine Cowboys is a fascinating look at a time when Miami was so flush with cash from cocaine deals that it was completely buffered from a nationwide recession."

Mass Appeal - Altered State - "Now that Tony Montana is on pajamas, it's time to let his fairytale sleep. Rakontur's documentaries deliver Florida's raw, rugged and rich to your home. For real."

Loaded - Meet the Worlds Most Evil Woman - "Guns. Drugs. Violent death. loaded looks at Cocaine Cowboys, the new film about the men - and one violent lady - behind the drugs war that inspired Scarface."

GQ (UK) - High Society - "The rise and fall of the worlds cocaine capital, Miami, on film."

Total Film UK - What it's like to make a Coke Movie - "Cocaine Cowboys' Billy Corben talks Guns'n'Gak..."

Empire Magazine (UK) - Invasion USA - "Chainsaw murders. Colombian hitmen. Bent cops. If you thought Scarface was pure fiction, prepare for Cocaine Cowboys, the shocking real story behind Miami's drug wars."

BPM - “Not only does the film bristle with Scarface-esque machismo, violence and comeuppance, but it is intelligently and cogently presented as well.”

Variety- “A rogues gallery of flamboyant gangsters paint an anecdote-rich portrait of the drug trade”

Maxim - “Fast paced and more addictive than a cocaine/crack/meth cocktail.”

The Miami Herald - "genuinely engrossing -- and horrifying" 

 New York Times - “ A hyperventilating account of the blood-drenched Miami drug culture in the 1970’s and 80’s, the movie overflows with cops and coroners, snitches and smugglers, reporters and importers.”  

The Onion: “Cocaine Cowboys is kinetic and absorbing, the documentary equivalent of Goodfellas.” 

The Washington Post - “It pounds, it churns, it go-fast boats...”

Entertainment Weekly - "Griselda Blanco, a homicidal Colombian "Godmother" who makes Tony Montana look like Mother Teresa."

Miami New Times - Big Story, Big Screen  - "Two documentary filmmakers capture a time and place in Cocaine Cowboys."

Radar - Welcome to Miami  - "While the hyper pace of Cocaine Cowboys is obviously meant to emulate the feeling of being on coke, for anyone who's met Corben and Spellman, one wonders if it's just a case of method filmmaking. These guys think fast and talk even faster—think Sean Penn in Carlito's Way."

City Link - Miami Splice - "Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman document Florida's seedy underbelly."

Associated Press - "Between bootleg DVDs and strong word-of-mouth, "Cocaine Cowboys" had already become an underground hit in Miami."--Associated Press

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Houston Chronicle - "Forget Scarface and Miami Vice. Cocaine Cowboys is the real deal."

Empire Magazine - "Tales of ingenious smuggling methods, Colombian cartel crazies and enough white powder to fuel the rapacious appetite of every party animal in America."

Las Vegas Weekly - "There's so much compelling material here, all of it salacious and dangerous and so enjoyable that you might just feel a little guilty afteward."

AP - "Film on Miami drug trade is a bootleg hit even before release" - "Between bootleg DVDs and strong word-of-mouth, "Cocaine Cowboys" - named for a term made popular by the media in the '70s and '80s - had already become an underground hit in Miami before its theatrical release Friday."

Los Angeles Times - Feature - "A look back at Miami's vices: drugs, cash, killings...""

Ocean Drive Magazine - Miami's Vice Decade - "Local filmmakers Alfred Spellman and Billy Corben investigate South Florida's glamorous and violent '80s in their documentary Cocaine Cowboys"

The Miami Herald - Vice City - "Rewind/Fast Forward Film & Video Festival showcases 'Cocaine Cowboys', a documentary about the real-life inspiration behind 'Miami Vice'"