The atmosphere of the lost war in Vietnam in the early 1970s weighed on America like a heavy blanket. Soldiers returned from the battlefields of Asia either black-bagged or addicted to drugs, and this "addiction" was avalanched among the public. The narcotics business was immediately seized upon by the mafia clans, who did not hesitate to massively corrupt entire police forces for peace of mind. In this echo chamber, the black underworld star Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is born, who, thanks to his own courage and intelligence, soon manages to flood the streets of New York with the best and cheapest drug.
Thanks to this, he soon rises to the very top of the local mafia structures, from where he runs his empire with a godlike calm and, with the help of financial injections, the inaction of the local police. Detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is the white crow among them and, thanks to his reputation, he is tasked with assembling an anti-corruption team that will change the established order. First up, they take aim at a distributor of exceptionally good material at an exceptionally low price. The noose is slowly tightening and the day is approaching when these two individuals will come face to face. Only one can emerge victorious from that confrontation. Or is it?