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Year of the Dragon 1985
Description: In Fresh York, racist Capt. Stanley White becomes obsessed with destroying a Chinese-American drug ring run by Joey Tai, an up-and-coming young gangster as ambitious as he is ruthless. While pursuing an unauthorized investigation, White grows increasingly willing to violate police protocol, resorting to progressively violent measures -- even as his concerned wife, Connie, and his superiors beg him to consider the consequences of his actions.
Released: 16 Aug 1985 Director: Michael Cimino Writers: Robert Daley (novel), Oliver Stone (screenplay), Michael Cimino (screenplay) Actors: Mickey Rourke, John Lone, Ariane, Leonard Termo Genres: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
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Year of the Dragon Reviews:

Year of the Dragon is something of a tiny known masterpiece. It is well written by oliver stone, and directed by cimino at a turning mission in his career. The centre piece, however, is Rourkes performance, which was caught while he most likely was at the peak of his acting ability's. You will be fully blown away by the realism of his acting, and it's even more noteworthy that the movie was made while Rourke was youthful while making this and was made to look more senior (that grey hair is dye). A heartfelt performance from an actor testing a cop with "scar tissue on his soul", will never be forgotten once seen. While the main hero is far from perfect, it is just that which makes him believable as well. Stanley White is on a crusade and would die for his principles, which results all those involved with him. It is a complex film, often talky, which is punctuated throughout with explosive violence, well shot with test of perfect set pieces. Bloody in territories and above all gritty and realistic, in parts it is even beautiful. The movie works on many lvls from it's slow burn beginnings with emphasis on conspiracy to the final pay off on the dock yards. Well drawn characters are everywhere in this film, and it never losses its difficult edge. Rourke has seen a much required and deserved return in newest years. He may have lost his handsome nice looks due to boxing and due to too many face lifts, but the guy will never lose his acting ability. We, the real fans, never gave up on this chance. And actually he's finally gaining popularity with a fresh generation, who need to see and experience The Year Of The Dragon, To trust the hype. Also check out his another classics Angel Heart and Barfly.


When "Year of the Dragon" was released in 1985, it was ripped to pieces by Chinese anti-defamation organizations as being a very racist film. The movie was likewise given lot of terrible reviews by critics, who probably wanted to be politically correct.Being a Chinese American who was raised in Boston's Chinatown, I had expected terrible things about this film. Even though "The Deer Hunter" is a nice film, the depictions of Vietnamese and Chinese in that movie are truly horrendous (no, Chinese DID NOT engage in Russian Roulette!!) I expected the same with "Year of the Dragon." I was fully shocked after I saw the movie at how realistic the movie was about Chinatown. I do understand many Chinese Americans do not wish themselves portrayed as drug dealers, gang members, etc. However, I don't think there has been any movie in Hollywood history who portrayed the dark side of Chinatown as accurately as this film. I know because I grew up in the zone when there lot of Chinese road gangs and mafia activity.The sad thing is after this movie was released, depictions of Chinese Americans has gotten a LOT worse; they are depicted as chopsocky kung fu gangsters (now isn't that ironic!!) in Jet Li and Jackie Chan movies, or as baby killers, rapists, or domineering bigots in "The Joy Luck Club" (by the way, this movie is truly truly AWFUL in it's portrayals of Chinese; the ignorant critics however gave this film nice reviews.) Strangely, Chinese anti-defamation leagues has been very silent during these years."Year of the Dragon" is Cimino's unappreciated gem. According to my view, it's his second greatest film. I understand this movie has flaws but Cimino was brilliant in showing the side of Chinese Americans that several Americans know. Not all of us Chinese went to CalTech or MIT and became successful tool engineers or research scientists.


Following the Heaven's Gate debacle it gotta have been questionable if Michael Cimino would ever helm other epic film. Having shot The Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate on such a grand scale, you expect that kind of movie from Cimino. Well, he was given one last shot to work the large screen using his considerable talents to make one last masterpiece. If there is a Michael Cimino trilogy it's his three epics The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate, and Year of the Dragon. In all honesty Hollywood does not create a lot of movies like these so when they come along they are something special. These are movies that present Hollywood at it's best, stretching, pushing the limits, and trying to make something large fueled by a clear artistic vision. It may fall flat, as Heaven's Gate did, but the risk can be exhilarating. Looking back on Heaven's Gate now, many critics search it to be one hell of a film. There's a easy reason for that, they just don't create 'em like this much any more. So, in retrospect the Hurculean effort actually looks refreshing. Year of the Dragon is a powerhouse film. Where Heaven's Gate meandered on the plains, Year of the Dragon charges across the screen. I trust this was powered by Cimino probably giving his greatest effort to entertain as well as make on a grand scale. The effect is a breathtaking ride and one of the greatest cop movies we'll ever witness. Rourke as Stanley White is in his prime 80's form. There was no doubt about it, in the 80's the camera loved Mickey Rourke. If he had not gone off track it makes you wonder what should have been. His is not the only nice performance in the film. John Lone as his prey is nothing short of magnificent. He is everything Al Pacino was in the Godfather films. I would tell his performance owes a debt to Pacino and watching the movie I wondered if he had used him as a model for Joey Tai. These three elements alone should be enough to create nice film, two nice actors dueling on screen and a director giving his greatest effort.It doesn't stop there though. They are working from an Oliver Stone script which is beautifully composed to blur the lines between nice and evil. It's not as easy as nice guy and terrible guy. These characters are totally fleshed out and complex. White may be the cop but he is deeply flawed as a human being. This script doesn't pander to the audience and you will not like Stanley White much of the time. Joey Tai is not pure evil. He follows a moral code and is an honorable man. This type of writing is not for everyone and some may be place off or confused by the nature of these characters but that's what makes for nice cinema. Not only are the leads nice but the helping cast is also fantastic. Kava as Connie White brings great weight to her performance as Stanley's wife. Raymond Barry and Victor Wong are perfect as are the whole helping cast. There is one often noted exception. Ariane as Tracy Tzu the reporter and White's fling is very wooden. What causes her to stand out is the fact that all the another actors are so good. I trust this was her first movie and she is out of her element. She just doesn't have the chops to hold up. Her performance doesn't drag down the movie but it does stick out whenever she's on screen. 1985 saw a couple of wonderful cop movies in this and To Live and Die in LA, which not surprisingly was directed by other nice William Friedkin. Movies like these are difficult to come by. We were lucky to see Friedkin's movie released as a unique edition DVD. Year of the Dragon has been sold by MGM to Warner Brothers and actually sits in limbo. It would be unfortunate for movies like this and Sidney Lumet's Prince of the Town (1981) to sit and rot on some shelf. The work of directors like Cimino, Friedkin, and Lumet could not be ignored. It's interesting that every of them made a wonderful movie about cops in the 80's. Two of the three movies though appear to be lost. Let's hope someone rescues them to DVD.



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