'Gangs of New York': Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Director: Martin Scosese.

Rival gangs embroiled in murderous battles on the mean streets of 19th century Manhattan – a period drama based on true stores of the time, it’s been Scorsese’s cinematic baby for two decades.

Sixteen years after seeing his father killed by rival gang leader Bill ‘the Butcher’ Cutting, Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) is back in town and vowing to avenge the death. Biding his time, he gets close to the evil Bill, enjoys romance with Cameron Diaz as a sexy pickpocket, and gets set for a climatic showdown.

'Gangs' was meant to be Leo’s return to megastar status after several flops since the success of 'Titantic'. But despite his efforts to demonstrate real character (mainly by bulking up and scowling a lot, it seems) it’s Daniel Day-Lewis who celebrates a triumphant return to the big screen. His Bill the Butcher, despite sounding like a drinking buddy of Bob the Builder, is a dazzling villain, a vicious dandy complete with stovepipe hat and bristling moustaches, who dominates the film.

It was years in the making, dogged by problems and plagued by studio interference, but for all its flaws (and there’s plenty of them in a fairly messy two hours 45 minutes) it’s still a must-see Scorese movie.

Mark Miseldine