Smuggler Movies
4 min

Top 10 Dope Smuggler Movies

4 min

Everyone loves a good story. But not all stories have a happy ending. Here is a list of the Top Ten Dope Smuggler Movies that explore the highs and the lows of peddling.

The following is a list of the top ten smuggler movies, all differing in tone and style. Whilst some movies show smuggling to be seedy and bleak, others present it as a high-flying and glamorous affair with unlimited money, cars and houses. But is that all there is to it?

10. City Of God

Based upon the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Paulo Lins, City of God is an unflinching Brazilian crime movie based upon real organised crime events that took place in and around the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro. City of God follows the story of a photographer called “Rocket” and his young life in the favelas from the late 1960s up until the early 1980s. During which a war breaks out between a drug dealer known as Li’l Zé and a criminal called Knockout Ned. A truly visceral and immersive experience, City of God is a movie that will have you captivated from start to finish.

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9. Requiem For A Dream

Requiem For A Dream focuses on four characters living in Brooklyn who are all looking for a way to better their lives. Three of the characters decide to buy a large quantity of heroin and plan to sell it make some cash. However, as the movie continues each character slowly reaches the depths of their own drug addiction. Originally written as a book by Hubert Selby Jr, Requiem For A Dream has a strong visual style that makes use of rapid cuts and edits to emphasise each character’s drug usage. It is a movie that still has the ability to shock and is unlike anything you have seen before.

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8. Mr. Nice

Mr. Nice is about the life of famed Welsh drug smuggler Howard Marks. The title and story are taken from the autobiography of Howard Marks that was published in 1997 - a book he wrote when he was released from prison. The film shows Marks (played by Rhy Ifans) becoming one of the biggest cannabis smugglers the world had seen from the 1960s to 1980s. The film begins with his humble early life in the Welsh valleys and follows him to his later connections to Germany, the IRA and MI6. Often light-hearted in tone, Mr. Nice is an enjoyable story with a likeable protagonist.

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7. Maria Full Of Grace

Based on “1000 true stories” Maria Full Of Grace tells the story of Maria, a 17-year-old Colombian girl who solely supports her family by working at a flower plantation. She quits this job due to unfair treatment by her boss and soon finds herself pregnant and propositioned to become a drug mule for a local dealer; She is offered a large sum of money to ingest 62 drug-filled pellets and transport them to New York. An uncompromising look at one person’s desperation to do better for themselves and their family, Maria Full Of Grace shows drug smuggling in its most raw form.

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6. Traffic

Traffic is a unique movie that has four separate storylines with some that intertwine and others that do not. Showing both sides of the law (and the thin line between them) Traffic examines different perspectives on drug usages and smuggling, following a Mexican police officer, the DEA, a user, and an Ohio judge’s attempt at ending the war on drugs, but not realising that the war is closer to home than he thinks. With a huge cast lead by Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Traffic has an original story and angle on the drug smuggling industry.

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5. Pineapple Express

A more comical perspective on the drug smuggling industry and often described as the “ultimate stoner movie,” Pineapple Express showcases Seth Rogen and James Franco at their funniest (with a superb and hilarious performance by Eastbound & Down’s Danny McBride.) When Dale Denton (Rogen) witnesses a murder he flees the scene of the crime but accidentally leaves behind his roach that contains a rare type of marijuana known as “Pineapple Express.” The murderers find the roach and then begin to try and track down Dale and his dealer Saul Silver (Franco) with hilarious results.

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4. Blow

The second biopic to feature on this list, Blow tells the story of real life American cocaine smuggler George Jung, played by Johnny Depp. A fascinating tale that shows Jung’s impoverished upbringing in Weymouth, Massachusetts to working closely with Pablo Escobar and Carlos Lehder of the Medellín Cartel. Adapted from Bruce Porter’s book, “Blow: How a Small Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellín Cartel and Lost It All” and featuring an eclectic and retro soundtrack, Blow is a fast paced and enjoyable movie.

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3. Cocaine Cowboys

The only documentary to make this list, Cocaine Cowboys is the most realistic portrayal of drug smuggling you’re likely to get. Featuring interviews with Jon Roberts and Mickey Munday. This film documents the complex methods of drug smuggling from Colombia to Miami and eventually the ensuing drug war during the 1970s and 1980s with startling, entertaining and occasionally horrifying stories from those involved.

2. No Country For Old Men

No Country For Old Men is the story of a man named Llewelyn Moss (played by Josh Brolin) set in Texas; he stumbles upon a drug deal in the middle of the desert that has gone wrong, discovering two million dollars hidden in a suitcase. He decides to take money to give him and his wife a new life together. However, this is not as straightforward as it first seems and he soon finds himself being tracked down by hitman, Anton Chigurh (creepily portrayed by Javier Bardem.) The movie follows Llewelyn and his attempts to always keep one step ahead of the pursuing and persistent Chigurh. Directed by the Coen brothers and using its source material written by novelist Cormac McCarthy, No Country For Old Men is a tense and satisfying watch.

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1. Scarface

Starring Al Pacino and written by Oliver Stone (who was dealing with a huge cocaine addiction at the time of writing) Scarface is one of the most popular movies of all time. Originally penned as a remake of the 1932 movie of the same name, the story centres on Cuban refugee, Antonio “Tony” Montana and his rise to power as a drug kingpin in 1980s Miami. The film starts with Tony arriving in a refugee camp and builds into a story of violence, fortune and cunning. Tony Montana’s journey to the top is one fraught with danger and ends in one of the greatest penultimate scenes in cinematic history that will stay with you for a long time after watching it. With a great supporting cast and electronic soundtrack by Giorgio Moroder, Scarface has influenced countless other movies, television shows, video games, and popular drug culture since its release. It deserves the acclaim it continues to receive.

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Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
Professional cannabis journalist, copywriter, and author Adam Parsons is a long-time staff member of Zamnesia. Tasked with covering a wide range of topics from CBD to psychedelics and everything in between, Adam creates blog posts, guides, and explores an ever-growing range of products.
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