An homage to Howard Hawks 1932 original, DePalma's Oliver Stone-penned version garnered mixed reviews during its initial release in 1983 — respected former Chicago Reader/current New York Times critic David Kehr called it a “lumbering, self-important, arrythmic downer” — mostly due to its graphic violence, its excessive running time (three hours and 15 minutes) and Al Pacino's over-the-top performance as the charismatic self-made gangster Tony Montana (Kehr called his performance “cartoonish”).
Twenty-eight years later Scarface is a cult gangster-movie classic, one that has grown in stature with the advent of home video — it's one of the best-selling DVDs of all time, largely due to its massive popularity in Hip Hop circles, thus Universal's one-night-only theatrical re-release to pimp the Blu-ray edition. (For the uber-fans out there, Universal is offering the “Scarface Humidor Limited Special Edition Blu-ray Set," which is presented in all its glory below. Only 1,000 will be available at $999 each; it's designed by "world-renowned humidor craftsman" Daniel Marshall and also includes a copy of Hawks original version, among other enticements.)
Personally, I find Scarface a hilarious, sometimes harrowing surreal black comedy — a cautionary tale of an American Dream run amok by greed, drugs and wildly overripe ambition.
Pacino has said he's never had as much fun playing a character, which isn't a surprise — Tony Montana is all id, an F-bomb-dropping bulldozer presented with unfiltered glee by DePalma, whose impressive technical arsenal is on full display throughout.
Make no mistake — Tony Montana is now one of cinema's iconic figures.