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Mickey Rourke and Tracy Tzu seem to deliver their lines in a trance. The audience is asked to swallow the preposterous notion that no one in the NYPD had ever heard of the Triads before Rourke's character rolled into town. When the focus shifts back and forth between the protagonist's personal life and his investigation, we are merely bounced from cliche to cliche. There is even a thoroughly PC speech delivered by Rourke in a Chinese restaurant about all the terrible discrimination faced by Chinese immigrants a hundred years ago. Granted, this is something every schoolkid should learn about, but there's a time and a place. Even in the feeble On Deadly Ground, Steven Seagal did us the courtesy of putting the soapbox speech at the end of his awful movie.
High-minded, big-budget garbage. A ludicrous story of a gutsy,
out-gunned crusader taking on an evil gang and the establishment that
does business with it.
Rourke (hopelessly miscast...apparently the union ran out of actors better suited to playing 50-year-olds) somehow is directed to huff and puff in order to make us believe that he's re-fighting the Viet Nam war in the streets of Chinatown. (I guess that this makes Year of the Dragon a more pretentious iteration of the theme of the Rambo movies.) Throw in a couple exotic Oriental types, John Lone, galaxies removed from the greatness of his starring role in The Last Emperor, and a non-acting actress who is tossed in merely to provide eye candy and to establish Rourke's characters bona fides as a non-racist, since he demonstrates that he is willing to sleep with some of them.
A snooze-worthy debacle. See it only to satisfy your morbid curiosity.
A group of young Chinese thugs in NYC murders triad leader Jackie Wong.
They also murder a store owner protected by the Italians. Police
Captain Stanley White (Mickey Rourke) is one Polock unwilling to uphold
the established understanding between the cops and the Chinese leaders.
His marriage to Connie is on the rocks when TV reporter Tracy Tzu
(Ariane Koizumi) comes into his life. Joey Tai (John Lone) is the
ambitious leader who pushes his way to the top as he advocates a risky
strategy to ramp up the drug trade from Thailand. Stanley recruits
rookie cop Herbert Kwong to infiltrate Chinatown.
First of all, this is not reality. This is a hard-boiled crime drama and it's not going to put Chinatown in a good light. Certainly, Michael Cimino and Oliver Stone are willing to write in some Chinese stereotypes such as bad driving. There are some fun surprising bits like the Chinese speaking nuns translating the wiretaps. Despite the hard-boiled unreality, I find the semi-claustrophobic feel of Chinatown very compelling. That's why John Lone going to Thailand takes away some of the tension. Otherwise, John Lone is great and Mickey Rourke is pretty good at this role. Ariane is basically a model-turned-actress. It would have been better to sacrifice a little on the looks for better acting. Part of it is the jarring dialogue like when she injects her rape into an argument out of nowhere. I watched this again after these many years and I'm surprised at so many of these memorable scenes. Cimino is capable of great visual mastery but once in awhile, he loses his way through his excesses.
What this film basically says is that is OK if you get a slew of folk killed as long as you are 'fighting the good fight.' That is a fairly abysmal moral premise. This film also showcases Mickey Roarke at the height of his popularity and is often regarded as an 'unsung contemporary classic film' by "those in the know." I don't think it really qualifies for classic film status-when the only thing really outstanding or even good about it is the cinematography. The film also goes on about 'Chinese stereotypes' when thats basically all the film depicts. I would also find it hard to believe that only one cop in NYC had a problem with the criminal activity in NYC's Chinatown. In that way the film is relying on the fact that it is 'a work in motion' to hide its multiple flaws. I also didn't find Mr. Roarke's character particularly likable-I'm not saying I found the actor unlikable-I found the character the actor was playing basically an unlikable person. I used to think this was one of the best movies made in the 1980's. My opinion of it has changed over the years. I think that 'To Live & Die in LA' was probably the better crime movie from the 1980's time period. If someone is a hardcore fan of the crime genre film will probably still like this movie. I can only give it a bare pass.
I'm quite dumbfounded at the user rating. This is a great film, not perfect but great. It's one of those electrifying films from the eighties, I'm eternally grateful at having the privilege of having seeing up on the big screen, where as Rourke's character, Stanley White, says, the streets are gonna run red with blood, or words to that effect. If watching Rourke's performance here, and other films around that 1986-1990 time, looking back, you can see just what a remarkable actor this guy was, but not so now. This film was back in the day, when he had a much lighter and polite voice. He's top form here as an unstoppable ex Vietnam cop, determined to take a silky smooth talking kingpin (the excellent John Lone) down. At first we think Lone is one of the good guys, where soon he becomes Rourke's worst enemy. You want so much for Rourke to take this guy. On one side I loved Rourke's character, his mettle and determination, but on the other side, I found him detestable, his pushiness and arrogance, and being a thankless fu..er. Also he's a pig when it comes to treating women, which kind of stayed with him as he went onto to do that weird out sex flick, 9 and a half weeks. There are some shockingly violent moments, some in the starting of the flick, where life doesn't mean anything to these Asian badasses. Rourke's wife getting killed was an explosive and impactful moment, I'll never forget, and there was some others. You'll never guess how Lone buys it, that too has dramatic affect. Also the films is a little educational as in regards to the Triads. Arianne adds beauty as a relentless Asian reporter, not half bad in the role. When she confronts Rourke, after taking a raping, Rourke's reaction is comical. He's the one true anti-vermin, cop who's gonna make a difference, and it's admirable. This is compulsive viewing all the way, with some tough violent moments, but this is one of those films that comes along every so ofter that leaves a lasting impression, as does Rourke's performance, staying true to the end, his character one tenacious son of a bi.ch.
I'm tending to agree with the more literate "hated it" reviews; 3,4,5 stars or so. They've all commented correctly on the acting and dialogue, and his one-guy-against-the-world thing (and succeeding!) is pretty clichéd, and always leads to the Big Showdown, the shootout resolution. But on a different note, the thing that really almost had me turn off the TV was the soundtrack! The "love theme" or whatever it was called, was dreadful. The same sappy song repeated 4 or 5 times at great length. Long, tragic, drippy, and often played at weird inappropriate times. Strip that thing, and I could give Year one more star.
Year of the Dragon doesn't need too much plot write-up. I'll try in a
sentence, just to test this: a
play-by-the-rules-but-not-crooked-wannabe-Mickey-Spillane cop (Mickey
Rourke) goes head-to-head with the Triads of New York's Chinatown, lead
by a calm businessman-cum-psycho (John Lone) while juggling two lovers
and a police force who don't like him much. There, let's move on: this
movie is frustrating. Simple as it gets, Michael Cimino's
rehabilitation from Heaven's Gate to try and get back into Hollywood's
good graces (with Oliver Stone as his screenwriter) is preachy, loud,
and full of BIG moments that should add up to more. Frankly, Heaven's
Gate was more satisfying (if less tonally consistent) on simple
It's a little like the East Coast cousin of 1985's own To Live and Die in LA. But where Friedkin had a firmer grasp of William Peterson's anti-heroism with fantastic action set pieces, Cimino's direction is either just basic stuff (lots of people talking with dialog that is padded and just speaks too heavily on the points over and over again as if we didn't hear it the first time) and the action, with some exceptions like a climactic shoot-out by a train-line, cluttered and just TOO over the top. Yes, even for an 80's action movie.
Maybe there is some real interest here, in doing a story on the triads and gangs of Chinatown, or how it spreads to the exploitation of workers in sweat-shops and factories. It dances with that, and I'm sure Cimino and Stone did their research, but it doesn't add up to more than just a simplistic pot-boiler - and not a strong one either. Rourke certainly tries to act his ass off (or, sadly frankly, sometimes over the top as well, or smirking through scenes), and John Lone certainly makes good back-up. Other players, like Ariane as the One Female Reporter who will get the scoop (cause, you know, there aren't any other reporters who might cover a big crime war in New York city except for the one Chinese one), are not very good at all except in one note turns.
And maybe more than anything, the consistent tone of just nastiness from this character of Stanley White, which also permeates other cop and gangster characters, left a bad taste in my mind watching it. There are moments where other characters call Stanley on his myriad of faults - and that he uses Vietnam as a crutch for his issues and as another Rambo 'still fighting the war' (how obvious they tell us, more than once, almost makes Rambo: First Blood Part II subtle by comparison) - and yet none of it really stuck with me to have any kind of feeling for the character except distaste. Again, Rourke does try to make him sorta likable... which could make it worse. When he cries in Ariane's character's apartment for not having anyone else to go to, and a tear goes down his cheek in close-up, there was just indifference there between myself and what was going on. Not good.
Yet Cimino does pull off moments that do work, shots that can get excited about. Hell, even a scene I didn't expect to work, which is a funeral for a (should be more) significant character as the second plot turn, was touching for how Cimino held back and let the big emotion swell instead of being the same high pitch. But for all that should be well-intentioned in Year of the Dragon, or 'realistic' as based on a Robert (Prince of the City) Daly book, it just isn't. Year of the Dragon is dated, probably racist Hollywood trash which fluctuates too much between something better and something s**t too often.
Somehow Mickey Rourke's performance seems to make a big bow to Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire" - is it a coincidence that both main characters are Polish and have the same name Stanley? They have a lot in common, and yet they are extremely different. Where Rourke's Stanley is an outspoken idealist, Brando's Stanley is an aimless dreamer. Yet, both of them are in a way the stereotyped Hollywood Polish man who is much less educated than his desired woman, has a tendency to strong violence and, after all, is a lonely, grown-up child. Some scenes remind me a lot of all this, especially the bed scene in Tracy's apartment (and the rape scene in "Streetcar"), the exploding anger in general, and the antagonisms all over both movies, if only in the personal relations. Could anyone tell if Oliver Stone and Michael Cimino consciously included these references in their script? - I sure see a lot of parallels. And if not so, Rourke definitely outgrows even the great Brando.
This is a decent film about attempts to clean up the Chinese drug gangs in
New York City. Although this film tries so hard to be an "epic", it comes up
short. There's a good story here, told well, for the most part. I give
Mickey Rourke credit, he really sunk his teeth into this one, although he
overdoes it occassionally.
The young lady who played the asian reporter Rourke was involved with is just terrible. She seemed to not have a clue as to what to do in some of her scenes, and the love angle was hard to understand. I'm not sure how she fell for Rourke's character, or why. She didn't seem to know either.
John Lone portrays his character very well. His slick, well-dressed gangster is creepy and charming.
There were some unbelievable sequences here, also. In one scene, Rourke's character is in the Commissioner's office arguing with the Commissioner, and some of the Department bigwigs. They seem to be almost begging him to stop his investigation. At one point, the Commissioner meekly asks "What are you going to do, Stanley?" Jeez, who's running the Department there?
Some things to overlook here, but not too bad. An entertaining movie.
Once the most decorated cop in New York bold and smug Pole Stanley
White (Mickey Rourke) becomes responsible for Chinatown, he resolves
to cease a wave of unbridled violence entailed by the head of Chinese
mafia Joey Tai (John Lone). Notwithstanding, this task is not that easy
After an artistic five-year marasmus, Michael Cimino returned with this wonderfully executed piece of gangster cinema which is so beautifully shot and riveting that Razzie Award nominations seem to be some sort of absurd and satire (It was nominated only inasmuch it was directed by oath-laden Mr Cimino). It bombards its viewer with outstanding visuals and spellbindingly edited action sequences and in addition to this, it is scored by the great composer David Mansfield whose ecstatic and aggressive soundtrack already infuses a portion of adrenaline into one's veins. The rendition by Cimino is indubitably exquisite and there is a tangible touch of aesthetical imagination of Cimino virtually in every scene. Cimino, a director who does comprehend how to conjure up an evocative climax, slowly boils the whole plot and simmers the scolding substance till the explosive and exciting denouement arrives so suggestive as if it was doused in some nitro-glycerine. The ensemble is meticulously delineated with red, azure hues as well as some contrasted ones such as white and black slightly reminiscent of a palette of film noir which was likewise possibly Mr Cimino's intention. The colourful décor is enchanting and unlike some visually unsuccessful motion pictures, the tints appear to be flowing out of the screen which is something emotionally sensational.
Yet, Cimino's movie is everything but perfect. Despite this laudable visualisation, which is pleasant to eulogise over, it has some structural foibles and invariably problematic script. The story revolves around Stanley White a cop who is a racist owing to the fact that he used to serve in US Army in Vietnam. Thus, he dislikes Chinese and the violence occurring in the district serves him as one of the arguments of his antipathy. Other characters, including Tracy Tzu and Joey Tai, are initiated quite daftly. However, after a period of time, once White and Tai face each other, there is a conversation between them and the nature of this discourse is rather confidential White addresses Tai by name as if they had known each other for ages, hence, their relationship is pretty shallow, without adequate foreshadowing and furthermore interactions between them lack chemistry. The plot is divided into two quasi-entirely-separate motifs: White's and Tai's. Whereas White has some nuisances with his wife and there are a lot of quarrels transpiring between them, Tai is generally concerned about expanding his power as the head of Chinese mafia and endeavours to expose his ruthlessness and omnipotence. The dichotomous tale is quite engaging, still, there are flawed parts and the texture is permeated by dissonance forasmuch the action intertwines with minor episodes and rarely focuses on those major ones. The material undoubtedly indicates Cimino's tendency to longer flicks, yet it is devoid of textural integrity. There are likewise some redundant scenes e.g. one random-like shot before the assault on a Chinese restaurant it displays a car with some thugs nearby the building, providing the instant with no depth whatsoever, creating not too much tension and looking more distracting than gripping.
Nevertheless, the film works well on account of solid mise en scène and the stunning soundtrack by Mansfield who utilizes apparently Chinese instruments with a view to introducing a viewer into sinister world of Chinatown. Cimino concretises the concept very neatly, exploiting swift montage, chic action sequences as well as drama-driven ones, particularly between White and his consort. Mickey Rourke stands out as Stanley White, conveying lots of charm to his role and he genuinely comes up to one's expectations as the audacious cop. Ariane never succeeds in being sufficiently convincing, notwithstanding, she is likable as the reporter and she isn't this sort of actress which could ruin the whole movie. John Lone, known for his part in Bertolucci's The Last Emperor, is very good as the boss of Chinese mafia, but fades away in comparison to Rourke who simply is the best performer all around.
Obviously, it isn't anything that explored something unexposed before, yet, it's a phenomenal piece of action nosh that ought to please both Cimino fans and those searching for some thrills. Apart from this, those seeking for some interesting overtones, there seem to be some parallels between Cimino himself and the character of Stanley White who endeavours to remain an unscrupulous policeman defending justice, but he disregards his faithful wife and the helpful reporter. Arrogant as Cimino was, he possibly attempted to explain and apologise for the financial catastrophe of his predecessor i.e. Heaven's Gate on which he had spent a huge sum of money due to his hubris and overambitious artistic aspirations. Of course, it is only a domain of presumptions, but anyway it is always worth a look what this director chose to film after aforementioned flick and upon being labelled as "the one who sold his soul to the devil" and butchered by a crowd of blood-thirsty critics.
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