Year of the Dragon
"Watching Mickey Rourke in this movie gives me a hard-on. "
- Mighty Peking Man
Year of the Dragon (1985)
Director: Michael Cimino
Producer: Fred C. Caruso (executive), Dino De Laurentiis
Writer: Michael Cimino, Oliver Stone, Robert Daley (Novel)
Cast: Mickey Rourke, John Lone, Ariane, Leonard Termo, Raymond J. Barry, Caroline Kava, Eddie Jones, Joey Chin, Victor Wong
Running Time: 129/134 min.
Plot: Deep in the secret heart of New York's Chinatown lies a criminal menace a thousand years old, the triad, a network of ruthless corruption and power. As the new godfather of the organization, Joey Tai decides it's time to war on the entrenched interests, both italian and Oriental, in the lucrative drug trade. The streets run red with the blood of the enemies. That is until Captain Stanley White, Mickey Rourke, takes over Chinatown. Using a beautiful newswoman as his ally, White wages a private battle against the chaos on his turf. The confrontation between these two fierce men is inevitable. It is a confrontation only one can survive.
RYAN LUNDGREN'S REVIEW: I really can't say much about the over complicated plot. I can say I enjoyed this movie a lot. Mickey Rourke plays the best cop in years. His personality is so cool, so hardened, so mean, so selfish and so racist - he's just plain obnoxious and it's sometimes hard to feel sorry for him. The supporting cast are good with the exception of Ariane, who sounds like she's reading off her que cards throughout the movie. However, I must disappoint Mighty Peking Man (I work with him at City On Fire) because John Lone, in my opinion, gives the best performance in the film. He plays the chilling villain, who is also, surprisingly sympathetic and interesting. The showdown is built up to where nobody really knows who to root for and this is what prevents Year Of The Dragon from being an excellent movie. Year of the Dragon is at least 3 cuts above the usual cops/revenge stuff. Highly recommended!
RYAN LUNDGREN'S RATING: 7.75/10
JAMES H'S REVIEW: Stanley White is a man obsessed. He is a Vietnam veteran, and a New York cop assigned to Chinatown. Moreover, he is a racist. His experiences in 'Nam have left him jaded and hateful. He has a personal vendetta against Chinese, and wants to clean up Chinatown. He is obsessed with his job and leaves everyone else behind him.
White is played by Mickey Rourke ("9 1/2 Weeks", "Johnny Handsome", "Double Team") with style and conviction. And for some reason, he looks like Bruce Willis. This should have been a career making performance for Rourke, but for some reason he has fallen into oblivion. He's engaging and relentless in his performance. With Rourke, we don't see any of him show through in Stanley. No one could have pulled off a better performance as White.
The supporting cast also does a terrific job, with the exception of Ariane. Ariane plays Tracy Tzu, a TV reporter who befriends White and helps him bring the underworld of Chinatown to the surface. Her dialogue comes across as very wooden. Come to think of it, most of her lines are just shouting at Rourke for being an asshole and a son of a bitch.
The other principle actor, John Lone ("The Last Emperor"), shines as well. He is absolutely brilliant as the sly and conniving young Triad Godfather. He always remains cool and composed. Lone is definitely something else. He oozes as much charisma as Chow Yun-Fat and Sean Connery.
"Year of the Dragon" can be found in most video stores under the Action section, which I think is misleading. There is some action in this film, but it is by no means an action movie. The film's violence is quite realistic and graphic (blood spurts from gaping bullet wounds). The action sequences are kept gritty and low key for the sake of the story. The story would not be half as believable if the film featured outlandish, John Woo-like action scenes.
Michael Cimino ("The Deer Hunter", "Heaven's Gate") keeps the film moving at a slick pace, and never really loses sight of its thought. It's a very tense film, loaded with great dialogue (it was scripted by Cimino and Oliver Stone). The cinematography is very picturesque, and stylish. Also, David Mansfield's score beautifully underlines the action on the screen.
"Year of the Dragon" definitely ranks as one of the best Triad films ever. It has some great performances and is a very powerful film. It is also a brilliant character study, dealing with Stanley's obsession to fight his own personal Vietnam on the streets of Chinatown.
JAMES H'S RATING: 9/10
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: Watching Mickey Rourke in this movie gives me a hard-on. Not only do I wanna look like him, I also want to act, dress and speak like him. Rourke is definitely the selling point of "Year of the Dragon" (based on Robert Daley's best-selling novel of the same name). The determination, the guts, the wit...only Rourke can play Stanley White the way he played him. John Lone (The Hunted, Last Emperor) gives Mickey some serious competition as Joey Tai, the young and uprising "triad" leader of New York's Chinatown. Lone, one of the most talented Asian actors I've ever seen on the American screen is more than just a villain. There's a certain element in him that makes the audience like him, no matter what evil things he does. Not only that, but he's just as cool as Chow Yun-Fat in "ABT" or "The Killer". Directed by Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter), the film itself is just plain spectacular. This is the movie behind the movie, behind the movie. Don't let this underrated classic collect dust at your video store, rent it and get ready to be amazed. A must for those into "Hong Kong Underworld" films. Nice soundtrack too, which is reminiscent to "The Deer Hunter" Theme. I'm still waiting for this to be released on DVD. Anyday now MGM...
When I tell someone to check this movie out, they usually say "Who's in it?". When I say Mickey Rourke, they either say "screw that, I ain't gonna watch a Mickey Rourke movie" or they simply laugh. Through the 90's and up until now, Rourke's been getting in trouble with the law, walking off sets for stupid reasons, and getting a bad reputation for his bad boy image. He was one of the most talked about and rising young stars of the 80's. Now, he's on the covers of several low-budget, straight-to-video movies at the video store. I also have to add that his face is beginning to look like it's made out of "Tupperware" (plastic surgery maybe?). Don't let his reputation stop you from watching this movie. You may just idolize him if you give him a chance.
Now, if there's anything legitimately bad to say about this movie, I'd have have to bring up the name Ariane (yeah, she has no last name), a famous Asian model, TRYING to be an actress. She barely succeeds with her "que card"-like acting abilities. Once in a while she'll have a few seconds of "good" acting, but overall, she makes Catherine Zeta Jones look like Meryl Streep. Too bad Ariane ain't act as good as she looks...on top of that, she's too good for a last name.
All you "I hate the 80's" people will have a field day with some of the way the Triad youth gangs dress: Members Only jackets, parachute pants, spike bracelets and colored hair spray. I mean, this movie was made in 1985 so it's pretty accurate in the dressing room department.
Bottom Line: Mickey Rourke is cool.
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S RATING: 9/10