Year of the Dragon (Sous-titres franais)
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Year of the Dragon (DVD)
Redemption for director Michael Cimino and burgeoning stardom for actor Mickey Rourke were on the agenda when Year of the Dragon was released in 1985, and even if those things didn't quite come to pass, the result was nevertheless an entertaining, at times even compelling film. Cimino, seven years removed from his Oscar triumph The Deer Hunter and five years past the debacle that was (and still is) Heaven's Gate, made a move back into the mainstream with this violent tale about New York's Chinatown, where gangs and heroin-dealing Chinese "triads" hold sway--at least until police captain Stanley White comes on the scene, fiercely determined to put the bad guys out of business. As portrayed by Rourke, White is arrogant, boorish, and bullheaded, a thoughtless jerk who puts anyone who cares about him in mortal danger, all of which we're supposed to forgive because he served in Vietnam and is so righteously intent on doing his job. Problem is, White is almost completely unlikable, rendering his relationships with his long-suffering wife (Caroline Kava) and his TV reporter girlfriend (a wooden Ariane) implausible in the extreme. Add to that a script (by Cimino and Oliver Stone) filled with stilted, macho dialogue and a level of facile racism and sexism that would be unacceptable by new millennium standards, and you've got a tough sell. Still, Cimino knows how to direct the action sequences, and he's able to sustain a good level of tension as the story builds toward its inevitable confrontation between White and young crime lord Joey Tai (John Lone, channeling Al Pacino in The Godfather: Part II). And the aftermath? Cimino made only four movies in the ensuing twenty years, none of them exactly blockbusters, while Rourke sank into a self-inflicted oblivion from which he has yet to recover. Not exactly the hoped-for outcome, but neither of them should be ashamed to have Year of the Dragon on his resume. --Sam Graham
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Top Customer Reviews
Mickey Rourke is awesome as usual, he defined cool in the 1980s just as Errol Flynn did for the 1930s. And just like Errol Flynn, he later descended into mediocrity, making poor personal decisions and then taking poor roles and minor roles which made a mockery of his previously fine work. But neither Flynn nor Rourke were as bad as OJ Simpson or Enron executives. You don't have to love what they became to enjoy what they previously achieved.
In many ways Cimino fulfilled a potential avenue which Roman Polanski never explored in his 1974 neo-noir masterpiece, Chinatown. That film spent all of one scene in its namesake locale. Year of the Dragon takes us right into the heart of New York City's Chinatown, for better and for worse. Its a fairly conventional narrative, but you can almost smell the pastries cooking and wet garbage seething on those Manhattan streets. One of my three favorite Rourke films, along with Angel Heart and Francesco.
This is yet the only Cimino flick I've ever seen, though it seems to confirm what I've heard about his inability to focus. You wander through the twisting alleys of the script and wonder just what it's all about. It's about drugs, and Chinese and white cops who prove willfully blind to the encroaching triads. But that doesn't begin to explain Stan White or his seemingly bottomless reservoir of piety. Why does he care so much? "How can anybody care too much?" he asks back.Read more ›
That said, the characters, especially Mickey Rourke's lead, are somewhat pedestrian & conventional. (Do ALL brilliant book & movie detectives have to have screwed up personal lives?!)
Besides that, I wondered about why a POLISH-American cop would be so personally obsessed about taking out the CHINESE mafia?
I'm NOT into political correctness. (Though I'm Chinese by descent, I wasn't so gung-ho about all of the protesting from the Asian activists about this movie back in the '80's. After all, there are more important things to worry about than an action flick!)
But I am into BELIEVABLE films. One reviewer who liked this movie said that director Cimino "kept it real." If it was "real", the lead (both in the book & in the movie) would have been someone with a very personal stake in bringing down the Triads. That would have justified his obsession AT THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY. (It's one thing to have him see it as just a job at the beginning, then have him obsessed AFTER they attack his friends & family. But this guy is so gung-ho RIGHT AT THE START!)
Politically correct or not....he should have been a Chinese, and not a Polish cop. (That goes for the book, as well as the movie!)
That said, the leading lady, a Chinese-American reporter, is the opposite....she's just too politically correct (in her mouthings about rights & such, not in her depiction) to be believable. (She might be a good actress, but I found her character annoying. It wasn't her fault.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
One of Mikey's BEST roles ever. If you don't have it; get it.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Oh no. A Mickey Rourke movie. Lock up your daughters and bar the windows, this isn't going to be pretty. Read morePublished on Oct. 15 2002 by BD Ashley
This movie is the best cop show I have ever seen. Aside from its controversy and violence this show was well made. Read morePublished on Sept. 24 2002 by A. Centeno
Mickey Rourke is absolutely great in this movie. He portrays the NY cop so well you think you are watching a live version of the actual guy. Totally convincing!!! Read morePublished on Aug. 28 2002 by RUN
i just write the very short essay for the "year of the dragon". it is because i am not good in writing. this is my feeling of this film after i watched. Read morePublished on July 4 2002 by joe
"Year of the Dragon" takes us into a world most of us never knew existed, let alone have seen: the seamy underbelly of New York City's Chinatown, a world unknown to the outsiders... Read morePublished on April 21 2002 by JLind555
this is just a downright fantastic movie.the only flaw was the puke inducing presence of miss chen.i thought no actress could be this bad until i saw sophia copalla in GF3. Read morePublished on Feb. 13 2002
Seething with racism and sexism, "Year of the Dragon" is quite possibly the most offensive film I have ever sat through. Read morePublished on Dec 13 2001 by Anonymous