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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.

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(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

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 ...
Elder
Jimmy Sun ...
Elder
Daniel Davin ...
Mark Hammer ...
Commissioner Sullivan
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

16 August 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Manhattan Sur  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$24,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$18,700,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Lone, Dennis Dun and Victor Wong would later appear in The Last Emperor (1987). See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Infatuation
Written by Rod Stewart, Duane Hitchings & Roland Robinson
Performed by David Mansfield
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A fast and brutal thriller
19 January 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I first saw this electrifying film when I was thirteen years old. I was way to young to watch it, but it definitely made an impression. Most of it went over my head, but I loved the chaotic feel of the piece and even then I knew Mickey Rourke was fascinating to watch. I have seen the film many times since then and I am still amazed at how fluid and dexterous Michael Cimino's film-making is. The propulsive forward momentum of this movie is not something that just any filmmaker would be able to capture. Cimino goes for a heightened realism that in lesser hands would be laughably over the top. The major characters scream and rage at each other and the dialog scenes are so emotionally violent it is a wonder the characters have strength left for the action set-pieces.

At the center of this wild, carnival ride of a movie stands Mickey Rourke. At this time Rourke was being courted by Hollywood for cross-over mainstream success. He instead took roles that would have scared off more timid actors. For people who relished tough minded movies that pulled no punches every film he did at this time was an event. Year of the Dragon is not a well-regarded part of his filmography, but upon closer inspection it reveals itself to be one of the best vehicles he ever had. His Stanley White is a man at war with the world. For him the job is everything and he throws himself into it consequences be damned. His wife despises him and his cavalier attitude towards their relationship. His superiors hate him because he constantly points out their hypocrisies. To him the job is a ceasless conflict. The fact that he is a Vietnam vet is the key starting point for his character. He wants to win at all costs and he really never left the battlefield. There have been many characters like this, but never played with such world weary and yet heartfelt passion. Rourke's performance is the fulcrum that the entire movie spins around. The way he enters a room or throws his hat around for emphasis is not just actorly business. His characterization is impeccable. Stan White is incapable of speaking in bullshit and he does not care to hear it either. His uncompromising and undeniably racially tinged viewpoint makes the character into a powder keg waiting to explode. He has many showdowns with corrupt local leaders, John Lone's reptilian crime boss and his own police superiors. In all of these encounters it is clear that for Stan White there can be no compromise. He will use every weapon in his arsenal to bring down those who would break the law or attempt to profit from it. His relentless pursuit of a personal brand of street justice gives the character a mythic resonance. Rourke is unafraid to show how truly insane White really is. When an action scene happens it comes as a welcome release from the coiled spring intensity that Rourke brings to his performance.

John Lone matches Rourke measure for measure as the oily, yet seductive crime boss Joey Tai. There is a terrific scene where he basically lays out his world view to the unimpressed Stan White. Joey sees himself as a businessman and if drugs, gambling, prostitution, murder and intimidation are the course of doing business than so be it. He is smarter than Rourke's thuggish cop and what he says makes a lot of sense from a certain point of view. This is not the typical shifty crime boss that we have come to know in gangster movie after gangster movie. He is a civilized and rational man whose stock and trade happens to be drugs and violence. Like all good capitalists he has identified a need and is profiting from it. The moral ambiguity that director Cimino and scriptwriter Oliver stone inject into the proceedings gives the film an intellectual and thoughtful flavor it might otherwise not have. This is exemplified by Lone's sinister, savvy and ultimately tragic performance as Joey Tai. Special mention must also be made of the gifted character actor Dennis Dun's wonderful performance as one of White's undercover officers. Dun finds a million different ways to project uncertainty and anxiety as he comes to understand that Stanley White would willingly and easily sacrifice him to the altar of his crusade for justice.

Year of the Dragon takes off like a rocket during it's major action set-pieces. The violence in the film is sudden and always shocking. These characters truly play by their own rules and will do anything they can to turn the game to their advantage. There is a scene toward the end of the film when Rourke confronts Lone in a dance club that is one of the best action scenes I have ever witnessed in a film. The kinetic intensity and white hot energy displayed in this scene is thrilling to behold.

I know I will never see a better police thriller/crime drama than Year of the Dragon. This is a film that has the brash confidence to tell a compelling story in a stylish and exciting fashion. The visceral excitement this film generates puts modern action films to shame. I hope that there will be a reconsideration of this piece now that Rourke is getting attention for his work again. This movie is an example of the kind of special magic that can happen when a writer, actors and director go for the throat and don't let go.


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