Year of the Dragon (1985) Poster

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8/10
Violent Thriller About The Triads
gogoschka-111 February 2018
'Year Of The Dragon' is a dark, brutal thriller about the Chinese mafia's turf wars in the United States. This was once celebrated director Michael Cimino's last attempt to create something daring in Hollywood after his previous film 'Heaven's Gate' infamously bankrupted studio United Artists, but while 'Year of the Dragon' might not the be the masterpiece Cimino's multiple Oscar-wining epic 'The Deer Hunter' was, it is still a very good film and remains one of the best cop thrillers of the eighties - plus it features a Mickey Rourke in absolute top form.

And it's an interesting film for some other reasons as well. For one, the script was written by none other than a young Oliver Stone. For another, it was the first time a Hollywood movie addressed the topic of Chinese gang violence in America, and although it seems rather tame now when compared to the reality of Triad wars, at the time, it was accused of being racist towards the Chinese community. The controversy it caused when it opened, plus the fact that it flopped badly, were the final nails in Cimino's career (he only made 3 more films until his death in 2016). But it's a very well crafted, gripping cop thriller that deserves to be re-discovered. 8 stars out of 10.

In case you're interested in more underrated gems, here's a list with some of my favorites:

imdb.com/list/ls070242495
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8/10
One of the more realistic films about Chinese Americans
2004RedSox17 August 2003
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 film was likewise given lot of bad reviews by critics, who probably wanted to be politically correct.

Being a Chinese American who was raised in Boston's Chinatown, I had expected bad things about this film. Even though "The Deer Hunter" is a great film, the depictions of Vietnamese and Chinese in that film are truly horrendous (no, Chinese DID NOT engage in Russian Roulette!!) I expected the same with "Year of the Dragon." I was totally shocked after I saw the film at how realistic the film was about Chinatown. I do understand many Chinese Americans do not want themselves portrayed as drug dealers, gang members, etc. However, I don't think there has been any film in Hollywood history who portrayed the dark side of Chinatown as accurately as this film. I know because I grew up in the area when there lot of Chinese street gangs and mafia activity.

The sad thing is after this film 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 film is truly truly AWFUL in it's portrayals of Chinese; the ignorant critics however gave this movie great 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 best film. I understand this film has flaws but Cimino was brilliant in showing the side of Chinese Americans that few Americans know. Not all of us Chinese went to CalTech or MIT and became successful software engineers or research scientists.
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10/10
Cimino, Rourke, and Lone at the top of their game
rwildfong16 June 2004
Following the Heaven's Gate debacle it must have been questionable if Michael Cimino would ever helm another epic film. Having shot The Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate on such a grand scale, you expect that type of film from Cimino. Well, he was given one last shot to work the big screen using his considerable talents to create 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 make a lot of films like these so when they come along they are something special. These are films that show Hollywood at it's best, stretching, pushing the limits, and trying to create something huge 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 find it to be one hell of a film. There's a simple reason for that, they just don't make 'em like this much any more. So, in retrospect the Hurculean effort now 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 believe this was powered by Cimino probably giving his best effort to entertain as well as create on a grand scale. The result is a breathtaking ride and one of the best cop films 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 could have been. His is not the only great 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 say his performance owes a debt to Pacino and watching the film I wondered if he had used him as a model for Joey Tai. These three elements alone could be enough to make great film, two great actors dueling on screen and a director giving his best effort.

It doesn't stop there though. They are working from an Oliver Stone script which is beautifully composed to blur the lines between good and evil. It's not as simple as good guy and bad guy. These characters are fully 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 kind of writing is not for everyone and some may be put off or confused by the nature of these characters but that's what makes for great cinema.

Not only are the leads good but the supporting cast is also fantastic. Kava as Connie White brings nice weight to her performance as Stanley's wife. Raymond Barry and Victor Wong are excellent as are the entire supporting 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 other actors are so good. I believe this was her first film and she is out of her element. She just doesn't have the chops to keep up. Her performance doesn't drag down the film but it does stick out whenever she's on screen.

1985 saw a couple of fantastic cop films in this and To Live and Die in LA, which not surprisingly was directed by another great William Friedkin. Films like these are hard to come by. We were lucky to see Friedkin's film released as a special edition DVD. Year of the Dragon has been sold by MGM to Warner Brothers and now sits in limbo. It would be unfortunate for films like this and Sidney Lumet's Prince of the City (1981) to sit and rot on some shelf. The work of directors like Cimino, Friedkin, and Lumet should not be ignored. It's interesting that each of them made a fantastic film about cops in the 80's. Two of the three films though appear to be lost. Let's hope someone rescues them to DVD.
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9/10
violently tough and gritty, Rourke takes down china town
msorenson-12 December 2005
Year of the Dragon is something of a little known masterpiece. It is well written by oliver stone, and directed by cimino at a turning point 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 totally blown away by the realism of his acting, and it's even more noteworthy that the film 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 playing a cop with "scar tissue on his soul", will never be forgotten once seen. While the main character 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 effects all those involved with him. It is a complex film, often talky, which is punctuated throughout with explosive violence, well shot with use of excellent set pieces. Bloody in places and above all gritty and realistic, in parts it is even beautiful. The film works on many levels 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 hard edge. Rourke has seen a much needed and deserved return in recent years. He may have lost his handsome good looks due to boxing and due to too many face lifts, but the guy will never lose his acting ability. We, the true fans, never gave up on this chance. And now he's finally gaining popularity with a new generation, who need to see and experience The Year Of The Dragon, To believe the hype. Also check out his other classics Angel Heart and Barfly.
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10/10
When Mickey Rourke dominated Hollywood
Tasos Tz.17 January 2002
In the mid eighties Mickey Rourke was considered a cult figure in Hollywood (he still is, only at that time we was a promising one). This movie truly reflects all of his talent in the role of a police officer and Vietnam veteran, who tries to clean up China Town. It's easy to realize that Oliver Stone wrote the script, and it's probably Stone's personal opinions that come out of Rourke's mouth.

It's still good after all these years and although it's no masterpiece, it's quite entertaining.
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10/10
Yet another under-rated 80's classic
thirdi3 November 2001
Next to "Barfly", this is Mickey Rourke's best performance. His turn as an uncompromising, tough New York cop is unforgettable.

The story is complex and involved, and much more engaging than your average 80's cop movie. The cinematography is stylish, and the acting performances all around are outstanding, especially John Lone and Raymond J. Barry.

There's some very graphic violence and some revealing sex scenes, so not for the kiddies! (I'm sure my parents regret taking me to see this one in the theater as a teen, but I made them!)

Overall I think this movie was misunderstood and overlooked by the "award people" and critics. Michael Cimino always has a gritty way about his films and this one is no different, maybe the brutality and violence in this film turned some people off. But if you haven't seen it I would highly recommend it. I really hope this one comes out on DVD at some point!
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very good eighties movie, not yet cinema
rogierr28 May 2002
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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8/10
Surprisingly intelligent and tough
Tequila-184 October 1999
Cimino has crafted a tough, gritty policier. I went into this film thinking that it would be mediocre at best. Boy, was I surprised. An intelligent script and passionate performances keep this film moving along. The movie kept me enthralled throughout it's length.
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7/10
Film-noir in the 80's
Henry Fields4 May 2007
Here's a nice recreation of the Chinese underworld and the Chinese mafia in New York. A great detective movie that combines drama and violence with a touch of film-noir. Nevertheless there's something in the script fails: it looks like Cimino and Stone had written a longer story and the had to cut it or something. The main plot is so solid but there some parallel stories that are not clear enough (Stanley White and Joey Lang's characters are rather confusing).

Mickey Rourke makes a good job, as usual... Tood bad he decided to become a boxer and destroy his own career.

Although Cimino's masterpiece is still "The deer hunter", "Manhtattan Sur" is worth seeing too.

*My rate: 7/10
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10/10
A fast and brutal thriller
NightOwl019 January 2009
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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8/10
Mickey lights the fire underneath a unusually thoughtful Oliver Stone script.
roll tide20 July 2003
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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3/10
Over-the-top film that leaves a bitter aftertaste
Maciste_Brother10 May 2007
Everything in YEAR OF THE DRAGON is over-the-top: direction, acting, writing, editing, score. Michael Cimino is not the master of subtlety. He's like the little kid who starts crying to get attention, not in order to get just one thing but starts crying for attention for everything. Practically every scene in this film is directed in such a way as if they were the climax: a car crash is not just a car crash, it's a spectacular ball fire explosion of a car crash; a funeral is not just a somber affair but something as revered as a funeral for the Pope; a gunshot to the head is not just to kill the bad guy but to be as gory as a Tom Savini scene in any horror film; the characters are not just people affected by the circumstances of the drama but are as extreme as those types in a Jerry Springer show; the unusual attention to details is not because the film wants to be true-to-life but because the film confuses such anal-retentive attention to details as validation for the unpleasant, over-baked story it's trying to tell, and in turn, becomes almost a parody of itself (Rourke's hair being the best example of this); the dialogue is not just dialogue if it's as loud as a Russ Meyer script; so on and so forth.

The direction is really at fault here. The director doesn't know when or where to stop with the OTT stuff and just tell a story. Because of this, the film's weight is totally lopsided. For instance, it spends more time on the wife after her death than when she was alive. Or we really do not feel the loss when she's killed and yet the direction makes it so that it's like the most important thing in the entire film. Had we known her a bit better maybe it would have worked but because the film only showed her bitching and screaming at Rourke that her death didn't seem that important to us. Hence, the OTT direction.

There are a few good things in the film. John Lone gives an amazing performance, when everyone else is screaming their dialogue at the top of their lungs. Some scenes are effective, like the chase scene between Rourke and the two Chinese girls (it's the best scene in the whole damn thing). But the film is a cleverly disguised mess. Too many pointless scenes that really add nothing to the story. Too many uninspired scenes, like the overlong moments when the Chinese mobsters talk endlessly about the virtues of being in the mob. For a film where every scene is over-directed, the resolution to is remarkably disappointing because it's so low-key. It falls flat and really doesn't work at all. We went through all that trouble for such a lame resolution? The last scene, when Rourke's presence causes a riot and then he and Arianne kiss, is so corny that it's truly embarrassing.

I've seen YEAR OF THE DRAGON on numerous occasions and will probably watch it again in the future as I'm fascinated by this mess. While watching it, I always try to understand what the director (and writer) thought they were doing. And I still can't figure it out even after seeing all these times, aside from leaving a bitter aftertaste.
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10/10
Absolutely blistering cop film. An underrated classic.
Michael Cimino's Year Of The Dragon is a visceral blast of pure Americana as only the man could bring us. It kills me that he suffered through that whole Heaven's Gate fiasco (which is actually a really good movie, but that's another story and argument entirely) because it extinguished any hopes of him making future films, and in doing so the studios effectively committed genocide against their own. Sure the guy was crazy as hell, but damn could he ever make a great film. This one is one of the most criminally overlooked cop flicks of all time, partly due to Cimino's scorching direction and partly due to a a performance of monolithic grittiness from Mickey Rourke as Captain Stanley White, the cop who won't stop. White is fresh out of Nam and mad as hell, launching a unilateral crusade of racist violence and self righteous fury against the Chinese crime syndicate in New York City, particularly a young upstart in their organization named Joey Thai (John Lone). Thai is as ruthless as White is determined, and the two clash in ugly spectacle, causing leagues of collateral damage on either side and inciting them both to roar towards an inevitable, bloody conclusion. Thai's elderly superiors warn him of men like White, men who are fuelled purely by anger, bitterness and nothing else, smelling the fire and brimstone in the air and wisely stepping out of the way. Thai is of a younger, more petulant generation and foolishly decides to meet the beast head on by essentially kicking the hornet's nest. White is warned by his caring wife (Caroline Kava) and fellow cop and friend Lou (Raymond J. Barry is excellent, firing Rourke up further with his work) not to mess with such a dangerous crowd. He has a volatile relationship with a beautiful Chinese American reporter (Arianne is the only weak link in the acting chain) who puts herself on the line for him by digging around in dangerous corners. The intensity level of this film is something straight from the adrenal gland; even in episodic scenes of introspect we feel the hum of the character's emotions, and when the conflict starts again, which it does in fast and furious amounts, the actors are simply in overdrive. Rourke has never been better than he was in the 80's, it was just his zenith of power. This isn't a role that gets a lot of recognition, but along with Angel Heart, Rumble Fish and Pope Of Greenwich Village, I think it's his best. He puts so much of himself into Stanley White that the edges which separate performer from performance begin to blur and waver, until we are locked into his work on a level that goes beyond passive consumption of art and elicits something reflective in us. Not to sound too hippie dippy about it, but the guy is just that good. On the calmer side of the coin, John Lone brings both evil and elegance to Joey, a slick surface charm that's constantly disturbed by Rourke's hostility, leading to an eventual meltdown that's very cool to see in Lone's expert hands. This is one for the ages and should be in the same pantheon with all timers like Heat, Serpico, The French Connection and others. Rourke fires on all cylinders, as do his colleagues of the craft, and Cimino sits cackling at the switchboard with a mad calm, yanking all the right levers in a frenzy of unhinged genius. Not to be missed.
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5/10
Moral ambiguity writ large.
lois-lane3320 April 2016
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.
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1/10
Horrendous
tankers5 January 2005
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.
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5/10
Dull
Tiemler18 September 2002
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.
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9/10
One of 80's best movies, and Mickey Rourke's best movie.
Sir_DeMetz18 April 2005
Year of the Dragon is indeed one of the greatest movies i have ever seen of this type. you'll not discover here a mindless action movie, where the hero is made of pure good. Being the actual movie hero, Stanley White (Mickey Rourke) is a very complex character, which only by observing very well the things he says and how he acts without immediately assuming he is a racist or a machist we can see the true beauty of the character, and how Mickey Rourke manages do to that like he was in fact "the" Stanley White. And the beauty i referred is that the character is made by the world we live. Forged by wars outside and inside of US, Stanley with is a man who knows how thing's really works in the real world without lies, only the hard truth. This movie talks about a crusade of one man, who defied the rules, to uphold justice, when justice left long ago.
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10/10
One of the best movies of the 80's
diego_garcia19 August 2003
After his historical flop of "Heaven's gate",many people thought that the carrer of Michael Cimino was over.In fact,he only made 4 films:"The sicilian"(1987),"Desperate Hours"(1990),and "The sunchaser"(1996).None of these films was a sucess and it's difficult to know if he going to make another film.Where is the another film,you might ask?Well,the another film is Year of the dragon(1985),an exciting thriller who was wrote by Oliver Stone(writer of "Midnight Express" and "Scarface"). The movie tell us the story of Stanley White(Mickey Rourke),an violent,racist and arrogant cop and his fight against the chinese gangsters,in particular with Joey Tai(John Lone).The performances are excellents(well,about Ariane,who plays the role of Tracy,is better no to talk)),and the script and direction are wonderful.In short,for me is one of the best movies of the eighties and maybe the best of Cimino
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9/10
Mickey Roarke Comes to Life Here
eric2620033 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Deep in the heart of New York City's Chinatown lives a ruthless group of evil masterminds who's legacy's been dated thousands of years. There motives are focused on greed, corruption and power. The kingpin behind this organization is a hardened criminal named Joey Tai (John Lone) as its his mission to wage war on the fortified interests in both the Asian and Italian communities in the profitable drug trade. The streets are drenched in blood. That is until dedicated Police Detective Stanley White (Mickey Rourke) steps in and takes over Chinatown. Joining forces along with a news journalist by his side, white engages in a confrontation against the mayhem on this turf. The fight that's coming at both enemies is quite inevitable. It's all in the matter of who will survive.

When I see Mickey Rourke perform in this movie, it gives me a lighter feeling in my head. He is a walking demonstration of method acting if you ever would find the definition of it. His acting, his clothing and his physical appearance truly is what I expected from in the character of Stanley White (based on the best selling novel by Robert Daley). Rourke was custom made to play the role of Stanley white. I just could not see any other performer capable of pulling off this very complex character. John Lone was also impressive as the evil kingpin Joey Tai as he proves to be a fierce competitor for Det. White. Lone, who is one of the most talented performers in the Asian goes beyond the parameters of just being a one-dimensional sneering villain. There are plenty of diabolical incidents he accomplishes in this movie that will even make the audience cheer for him. He can even make Chow Yun-Fat green with envy. After a five year sabbatical from the disaster "Heaven's Gate", director Michael Cimino did indeed make a winner here. This is one film that deserves the purchase and should never be left on the shelves unwatched. If you are a fan of underworld Hong Kong films, look no further. You may even be impressed by the soundtrack. It adds flavour to every scene, very similar to "The Deer Hunter".

Granted people totally dismiss me when tell them that Mickey Rourke is in this movie. Sure back in the 1990's Rourke has been in trouble with the law and walked off sets for unjustifiable reasons, and has lacked in bravado over the years. But back in the 1980's he rocked. Today with the exception of "The Wrestler", he has been lowered to making direct-to-DVD films and his once handsome face looks like it has been molded like soft clay (thanks to some botched up plastic surgery). But don't let his downward spiral get the best out of everyone, you must see Rourke in his glory days when he was a hungry young thespian who wanted a little action.

If I was to pick any sore thumbs about this movie, for me it was the performance from Ariane, a model trying to release her acting chops as love interest to the married Stanley white, Tracy Tzu. She can't seem to act her way out of a paper bag. Many times it feels as though she's just memorizing and reading off lines off script. she really is that unconvincing. She does have her moments, but it's very few and far between.

For all those people who hated the way we dressed in the 1980's, well too bad. The Triad dresses exactly like the way punks used to dress like back in the Dark Ages; complete with baggy pants, Members Only Jackets, spikes and exotic coloured hair spray. I mean what do expect. It was released in 1985, duh. What more do you want?
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Balaclava
chaos-rampant27 July 2012
Cimino shows that he is a crass and hysteric filmmaker here. His sensibilities place him somewhere between Cecil B. DeMille and Francis Coppola. He's got to film big, so even a cop flick about violence in Chinatown has to be a saga. There's no weight to it, it just has to be a sprawling story that's only vaguely about social issues of importance. He's got to have both the scope and relevance, preferably something to brood over. He's got to have lots of people and lots of scenery in the frame. There's a pretty ludicrous scene set in backwoods Thailand that only seems to exist so that a Triad boss can majestically gallop in view of a swarm of soldiers (and later brandish a severed head).

There's nothing worse than a filmmaker who can only leverage ambition and control in his art (Coppola once in a while had good intuitions). So at its most profound, cinematic beauty is at perfume ad level here, say a woman in silhouette sliding into a majestic night-view of New York. What's the term, 'elephant art'? I say it doesn't breathe.

Worst of all, since he is very much a storyteller, these days a novelist living in Paris, his dramatic sense is a lot of puff and noise on a typewriter. It has no life. It's screen writing 101 like in one of those books that tell you about the 'hero's journey' and where to put the 'inciting incident': the couple is growing bitter and distant, and it's right on the first scene that they have to curse, yell, and throw things as they explain all that's wrong between them: he's never at home, he doesn't care, she wants a baby.

And he's got the ideal writing partner for this. Oliver Stone: so angry barbs at the media, school-lessons in American and Chinese history, and Vietnam is behind all of it. It's all abrasive on this end, as is Stone.

Mickey Roorke, usually game for roles that call for lots of smirking and boyish thrashing-about, is the violent, crazy, anguished new sheriff in 'Town. He browbeats and ridicules the Chinese journalist girl and of course she goes to bed with him the moment he has finished doing so, because what's more charming than a 'flawed protagonist'.

The film is bookended by public funeral processions and that could have been something, connoting obsession, artificial images, false narratives. Watch John Lone in M. Butterfly for that. Watch Fukasaku for chaotic action.
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10/10
Just a Comment on the Age thing
decovanmacey30 October 2005
People all comment Mickey Rourke playing an 'older' detective. First, yes the actress playing his wife does indeed appear to be about 40, but I think the key is that she's average looking, she's not some model, it was realistic casting. Local boy with local girl. Second, Stanley White was in Vietnam, which technically ended in 1973. This film came out in 1985. Remember the 80's song, 'the average age of the American Vietnam soldier was - 19'. Say Stanley was there till the end of Vietnam (1973) and take us to 1985, and that's 12 years, add that to a 19 year old soldier, and that's 31. Now, by age 30, some guys have hair still, most have a receding hairline to some extent, some go gray or white, and some go bald. IMDb lists Mickey being born 1956, i.e. 29 at the film premiere. Further, it isn't surprising that someone who was a decorated war 'hero' would be hired as a local cop when local neighborhoods used to hire their own, and that because of his intensity and the nature of his personality he would raise up the ranks as quickly as he did, already having cleaned up one situation that others had felt uncleansable. So, my point, to fit the time line, Mickey only needs to be playing a 31 year old. Given his 'old neighborhood' buddy looks at least 40, and his wife looks 40, and he probably is supposed to be 40 too, and the altering dye job wasn't perfect, but, the point is, we can't simply assume Mickey is supposed to be 50 in the film, and the really great aspect beyond this is - the great thing about Mickey is - his acting makes him appear to be older than Archie Bunker, having seen the truth of life and carrying the burden of life on his shoulders more believably than any since Brando. Vietnam did that not only for the boys who grew up fast and came home men, but for a whole generation. After Vietnam the U.S.A. wasn't in Kansas anymore.
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4/10
Another Ollie Stone disaster
John Seal17 November 1999
This time, he only co-wrote the screenplay, but Year of the Dragon is only marginally better than such Stone bombs as The Hand, Natural Born Killers, and the laughably pathetic The Doors. (Don't get me started on JFK, any man who buys Jim Garrison's theories on Kennedy is a gullible fool.) Francoise Bonnot's cinematography is the only reason to watch this train wreck, which is also marred by David Mansfield's cloying score and a terrible performance by Ariane as the love interest. Personally, I find this a troublingly racist film, but coming from Stone that doesn't surprise me.
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8/10
Underrated Cimino Epic
cracker12 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Say what you will about this film, watch it, then watch a current equivalent. It will be a stretch to find one, maybe "The Departed" or "The Good Shepherd" are close. Three days later, betcha you will remember this movie and the characters and will have absolutely forgotten the current equivalent, and this is no dig on either of those fine movies, but rather a testament to the compelling nature of "Year of the Dragon." Yes, the film has many flaws, but I believe it rises above them successfully to achieve greatness. "White Powder Ma," wiretapping nuns, real Chinatown in its beauty and strangeness, The "voicebox" mafioso, are among the many compelling images contained herein.

Despite all the nitpicking about technical elements, I believe what annoys people most about this movie is its moral ambiguity. The white and black hat pablum of spoon-fed Hollywood mediocrity is absent. Would that more ambiguous movies were produced challenging us to wrestle with the issues portrayed instead of preaching to us. Also, contemporary audiences just don't have enough patience to appreciate thorough character studies. For example, witness how many IMDb reviewers pan "Deer Hunter" for developing the characters fully before getting to "the action." This is a movie that contends favorably with many others when one is looking for something to review, it presents a new revelation with every viewing, and few movies, especially current movies measure up in this respect. Yes, it can be a jumble at times, and much needed flavor was obviously left on the cutting room floor, but still it is an excellent movie. I crave a "director's cut" of this film.

They just don't' make em like this any more.
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10/10
A classic!
Tim Johnson12 April 2008
Diane and I watched this film when it was first released many years ago and I have since become a Cimino fan after seeing and re-seeing some of his other epics. My favourite films were made during the Eighties and Cimino's all too small output were among that decades best. I admit to being a simple viewer who knows virtually nothing about the craft and art of movie making and I like films, therefore, on "gut instinct" and after re-watching this film for the first time in thirty years last evening, I realised that it was an over-looked masterpiece.

I understand completely those IMDb commentators who thought the script contained some howlers and that the studio had unmercifully edited the final product into oblivion. However, I cannot agree with their criticisms totally and my feeling is that, yes the film would have been more powerful and viewer-satisfying (much like Heaven's Gate) had these factors been given more attention, but taken as a whole, Diane and I found the movie to be far beyond the contemporary Hollywood dross.

The acting was a perfect match to the impact of the script; the only harsh note to me was the female TV news-person whose lines were delivered a little "woodenly", as some commentators have earlier mentioned. This, however, can in no way detract from the power of the completed film. I repeat, I was totally absorbed by what I was watching and the power and veracity of the visuals and the script held my interest for the duration of the action.

It is to Hollywood's everlasting shame that they have neglected the directors as they have these past decades and allowed so-called market forces to determine art and make no mistake, the films of the Eighties produced by those incomparable directors were genuinely art.

Cimino is brilliant; seek out all his movies and devote a weekend to their viewing--you will not regret the time.
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