This is the story of an African American mobster, how he came to power, how he managed to build his empire and how he met his demise. Gangster Bumpy Johnson's right-hand man, Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), inherits his gang in 1968 when Bumpy dies of a heart attack. Lucas opts to take charge of the crime scene in Harlem. After his addicted partner dies from an accidental overdose of a low-priced but strong brand of heroin called Blue Magic, detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is put in charge of a task force zeroing in on major drug traffickers.
Lucas is the supplier of Blue Magic. He has visited Thailand himself and buys his drugs directly from the producers, and has them smuggled into the country by American soldiers coming back from Vietnam. With the drug's monopoly, Lucas soon makes a fortune. Lucas' brothers are his wingmen in the drug trade.
As Lucas' business flourishes, he deliberately operates quietly and dresses modestly so as to not attract police attention. However, he disregards his own policy attending a boxing match, wearing the gaudy fur coat and hat. Roberts also attends the fight and notices Lucas, whose seats are even better than the ones of the Italian mobsters. He decides to investigate.
Meanwhile, Lucas has to fight mobster Cattano (Armand Assante), who threatens to destroy his family unless he cuts him in, and corrupt NYPD detective Trupo (Josh Brolin), who tries to blackmail him into cutting him in. And things get still worse when Lucas' supply gets cut off by the end of the Vietnam war, having him rely on other crime rings.
Roberts' men manage to arrest Lucas' cousin and make him wear a wire. This lets Roberts identify and search the last plane carrying Lucas' drugs, finding it in the coffins of deceased soldiers. This evidence leads him to Lucas' processing facility. Lucas gets arrested when Roberts' team raids the shops his brothers run.
At the police station, Roberts invites Lucas to aid his investigation, which would result in a shorter jail sentence. Out of respect for Roberts' integrity, Lucas eventually names Roberts the cops on the take, which leads to the arrest and conviction of 75% of the New York DEA. Having passed the state bar exam, Robert prosecutes Lucas, who - once convicted - furnishes evidence that leads to over 100 convictions.
Best part of story, including ending:
It's based on the life of a real criminal and it's amazing to see how he did it.
Best scene in story:
The scene at the boxing match, where Richie realizes he must investigate this gaudy looking mobster.
Opinion about the main character:
Although on the wrong side of the law, he managed to build up an empire in those adverse days.