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Year of the Dragon (1985)

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



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

Did You Know?


According to production manager Randy Cheveldave director Michael Cimino finished shooting on budget. Producer Dino De Laurentiis promised him the luxurious Mercedes car that character Joey Tai drives in the movie, if he stayed within the budget. If not, Cimino would forfeit $50,000 of his salary. "It was four days over schedule, but $130,000 under-budget," Cheveldave remembered, so Cimino got his Mercedes. [Times Colonist, 2016] See more »


Reflected off the glass of the paintings in the bank. 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.
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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 At the Movies: 25 Years of Margaret & David (2011) 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.
See more »

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User Reviews

very good eighties movie, not yet cinema
28 May 2002 | by (Amsterdam, Netherlands) – See all my reviews

This is the first movie in Rourke's golden years: Year of the dragon (1985), 9 1/2 weeks (1986), Angel Heart (1987), Barfly (1987): every single one underrated IMO. His glory started to erode heavily with Johnny Handsome (1989), really hit an all-time low with Wild Orchid (1990) and confirms that as the Marlboro Man's sidekick Harley Davidson (1991). Nevertheless I'm sorry that his footage was cut out of the Thin Red Line (1998), because I like his style. Michael Cimino (Thunderbolt&Lightfoot, Deerhunter) and cinematographer Alex Thomson (Excalibur, the Keep, Legend) apparently know their way in the eighties as well, although the story plays just before.

Is the recent wave of violence in Chinatown caused by Stanley White, the new (Polish originate) gung-ho sheriff in N.Y. Chinatown, or by the hunger for power by the young chinese gangsters? White, ironically, makes his own job harder because he has serious trouble respecting the Chinese in any way. Stanley hits the crime in chinatown like Popeye Doyle in the tradition of the French Connection, instead of a sheriff with brains. He will have to pay for his callousness and hypocrisy.

'Year of the dragon' depicts some of the the money and gambling problems of the Chinese in an early but profound eighties' style. The score sounds cheap, but fortunately is scarce too. I particularly like the noirish feel of this way-above-average cop-flick. Michael Mann could only wish he made this: it's one of my favourite tv-movies. The few negative points are probably due to interference of producer Dino de Laurentiis. 8/10

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