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Director Martin Scorsese’s crime drama gets an ace performance from Ray Liotta, as a young man who happily embraces the mobster life.

The sordid, violent and foul-mouthed subject matter is one thing, but the sheer exuberance with which the story is told ensures that this is one of the great gangster movies.

Liotta is excellent, Oscar-winning Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro are both outstanding as his pathological pals and Paul Sorvino breathes quiet power as their boss. P

ure movie magic is much in evidence as the roving camera introduces us to De Niro’s favourite bar, there’s an exhilarating extended sequence in which Liotta takes Lorraine Bracco to a nightclub and the film’s withering sense of black comedy is often more frightening than funny.