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Year of the Dragon (1985)

A police detective cracks down on organized crime in Chinatown after the murders of Triad and Mafia leaders.



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ariane ...
Leonard Termo ...
Louis Bukowski (as Ray Barry)
Joey Chin ...
K. Dock Yip ...
Hon-Lam Pau ...
Fred Hung (as Pao Han Lin)
Way Dong Woo ...
Jimmy Sun ...
Daniel Davin ...
Mark Hammer ...
Commissioner Sullivan


Chinatown, New York City. There has long been an unofficial agreement that the NYPD will leave the traditionally run Chinese triad alone to manage the crime issue in the neighborhood, the triad who is the face of organized crime of Chinatown. The triad also has an unofficial agreement with the Italian mafia, still seen as the major player in organized crime in the city, to be cooperative in a win-win situation in their illegal activities. However, the Chinese youth gangs are disregarding these unofficial agreements, being another violent player in the crime scene in Chinatown, they who take a stand by killing Jackie Wong, the head of the triad. To deal with the matter, the NYPD reassign Captain Stanley White from Brooklyn to Chinatown. Stanley, of Polish heritage, is not averse to slinging slurs toward his adversaries, most of those of a racial nature. This reassignment will not help the already deteriorating marriage he has to his long suffering wife, Connie. While Stanley is ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It isn't the Bronx or Brooklyn. It isn't even New York. It's Chinatown...and it's about to explode.


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




Release Date:

16 August 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Manhattan Sur  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$24,000,000 (estimated)


$18,700,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Tracy's apartment was not a set. In order to get the desired view though the windows, it was specially constructed at the top of the famed Clocktower Building in New York. Cimino says in the commentary track how proud he is to be the first (and likely only) director to get that view of the New York skyline. "I can't stand going to a place and shooting it the way everyone's shot it before. People go to Paris, there's always the Eiffel Tower. They come to New York and it's The Plaza Hotel and Central Park. So I wanted a view of the city which would be unique and memorable." See more »


When Connie is in the bathroom before she is killed by intruders, there are 2 red spots on the lens, one on the right and one on the left. These are probably from a previous shot where fake blood got splattered on the camera lens and the operator failed to notice it. See more »


[first lines]
Tracy Tzu: Captain McKenna, any leads in the murder of Jackie Wong?
William McKenna: Nothing at this time.
Tracy Tzu: Do you think this killing means there's some kind of war going on in the Chinatown Tongs?
William McKenna: No, I don't. This is basically a situation where the youth gangs are lashing out at the establishment. The community is cooperating. The situation's under control.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits roll over a squeezed image of the Chinese woman restaurant-singer crooning a Chinese easy-listening ditty. See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Heaven's Gate: Part 3 (2015) See more »


Resurrection Symphony #2 (Fifth Movement)
Written by Gustav Mahler (uncredited)
By Bernard Haitink and The Concertgebouw Orchestra
Courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
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User Reviews

Mickey lights the fire underneath a unusually thoughtful Oliver Stone script.
20 July 2003 | by (Mobile,Al.) – See all my reviews

In this entertaining and illuminating 1985 crime thriller,Mickey Rourke stars as Capt. Stanley White,a hard-bitten cop with a weary intelligence far beyond his years.

Transferred to a new precinct,the abrasive detective White soon finds himself involved in a crusade to take down the corrupt,criminally run higher powers of NYC's Chinatown. To boil a complex storyline down to it's basics: White must balance his intense desire to bring the violent Triad leader Joey Thai(John Lone)to justice,despite the protests of his bought-off supervisors, with his crumbling personal life(his wife has grown to despise him and he is attracted to a Chinese-American reporter working his Chinatown expose). Adding color to his predicament is his attempt to stay true to justice by fighting off his racist attitudes towards Chinese. While there is no doubt that the triads are engaged in illegal Mafia-style activity,and that White is justified in pursuing them,there is the strange possibility that his rough treatment of Chinatown as a whole stems from his unwillingness to lose another war "because of politics",like he did in Vietnam.

Directed by the stylish Michael Cimino(recovering quite well from the *bloatatious* "Heaven's Gate") and boasting a strong script from the early years of (pre-P.C.)Oliver Stone,"The Year of the Dragon" is a very fine addition to the cop-on-a-mission subgenre. Mickey Rourke,an ever-underrated talent-gives one of his finest performances in the lead,and,despite all of his character's flaws,we become endeared to the character and enraptured by his pursuit of the oft-overlooked Triads of Chinatown. Rourke is a strong and capable presence here,and it's a shame his career didn't survive the 80's. Only the occasional logical gap or plot hole,and the juvenile performance of the obnoxious(but gorgeous) Arianne as the reporter detract from the film's glory. A little trimming of it's excessive 136 minutes would have helped as well.

Regardless of these few failures,"The Year of the Dragon" is a sumptuous and exciting thriller,and awaits a larger audience to discover it's challenges. Stay tuned for this one. ***1/2 out of ****stars. "It's always about politics.This is Vietnam all over again. I'm not gonna lose another war over politics." -Stanley White

Note: A ridiculous,politically-correct disclaimer has been attached to the film by it's distributers. This is a stupid move as the film is in NO WAY demeaning to Chinese-Americans as a whole. The movie only attacks the old-world criminal elements feeding on the underbelly of a few of the larger Chinese communities in the U.S.-the Triads,youth gangs,etc. These organizations do exist,but are not representative of the Chinese-American majority. In the end,crime does not discriminate between the races,and neither does "The Year of the Dragon".

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