3 + 4


NTSC Anamorphic (2.35:1)

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Thai, Bahasi, Spanish, Portuguese
(Click for Cover Scan)

Director : Michael Cimino

Screenplay: Oliver Stone & Michael Cimino

Starring: Mickey Rourke, John Lone, Araine.


After years of MPM asking me "Have you seen it yet...have you see it?!" I finally tracked it down - on Hong Kong DVD of all places - and after giving it several airings. I gotta say this is one cool movie despite itself!

The plot by now is cliché. Misfit outsider cop wages war on ruthless villain (who in this movie is a member of the New York Triads). What makes this movie above average are a number of things...

For one, Mickey Rourke's braggadocio performance as racist cop Stanley White (aided by Oliver Stone's venomous dialogue) works really well - especially in these far too politically correct times. His opening monologue, as the new Police Chief of Chinatown, to the Triad leaders is jaw-dropping.

John Lone is cool as ice playing Joey Tai the wannabe triad boss, whacking out everyone in his path, whilst still finding time to put his people through college. He's comes across like an immaculately dressed Chinese Michael Corleone. In fact they could have easily made the whole film just about him.

Add to that some great direction from Michael Cimino, one gets the feeling that a lot of money got spent on this. They simply don't make crime movies as epic as this anymore. Indeed worth the price alone, especially now it's finally available in a great looking transfer, is the luminous (2.35:1) 'scope photography. Shot with true anamorphic lenses, non of this (all too common these days) Super35 pseudo-shit, this is one beautiful movie. Whether it’s the interior shots or on location every thing looks larger than life. The steadicam shots following people around bustling streets and back alleys are particularly memorable.

Now for the bad news....

Anyone who's ever read a review of this movie would no doubt have heard about the poor performance by Araine. She plays a Chinese American reporter who Rourke's racist cop falls for despite himself. Well I went in expecting the worst and guess what!? I wasn't disappointed! To be fair her dry monotonous delivery works fine when she's a TV reporter talking to camera, but the same voice when talking to EVERYONE?!, Ughhh! It doesn't help that her role was always going to be a particular difficult one to pull off. Alas she just stinks up the movie every time she's on the screen. Cimino might as well have cast Jar Jar Binks in the role! (Edit: Having watched this film several times since writing this review I've kind of got used to Araine's performance and she tends to blend in more so than in the early viewings (as did Jar Jar I might add).


As I said, this is a cool movie despite its flaws, the music is surprisingly non 80's (thus doesn't date it), there's some inspired casting for smaller roles (a Mafia boss sans a voice box is one particular standout), plus some hard hitting violence that one expects from movies of this period, ok so it's a tad melodramatic at times, but still…

So in conclusion while no masterpiece this is still a criminally under seen film that’s really worth picking up. I think Cimino was aiming for a Chinese take on The Godfather and ended up falling in-between Dirty Harry and Out for Justice!


The DVD looks great, presented in the correct ratio of 2.35:1 and enhanced for 16:9 TV's this will look mind-blowing to those people who've spent years living with the P&S VHS release. I'll spare you the usual rhetoric and bumf and just give you some screenshots to look at. Encoding wise, I noticed no artifacts on my 32" 16:9 TV.

Vietnam Vet. Boss Trouble You don't change Chinatown, Chinatown change you! Chinese Godfather
How wuuuude! At the Shooting Range New York, New York Chow Yun What?
Mean Streets Make that rice to go! Thailand Stairway to heaven?

(Click for full size)


For a movie made in 1985 this has no right to sound as good as it does. Dialogue is always clear and locked to the center channel with music and sound effects filling the front sound stage. Other than the opening New Year celebrations with fire crackers going off in every speaker, I didn't really notice any other split rear effects. However the soundtrack really does have a kick (that would be lacking if it was only 2 channel Pro-Logic). It's particular impressive during the opening restaurant massacre surrounding you with gunshots and mayhem.

Final Thoughts

This is to all extents and purposes a DVD of the quality one would expect from MGM in r1 land. In fact the only thing that stops this been released there is the fact it' s dual encoded to Region 3 + 4. No extra's are on the DVD apart from the interesting trailer (which is anamorphic too tho' cropped to 1.85:1). Even the subtitles are great (unlike most native HK DVDs) to the extend there's two English ones, one that just subs the Chinese characters speaking, and one that subs the whole movie. \o/

So come on MGM get your shit in order and get this DVD out, so the non multi-region masses have an option to see this classic.

STOP PRESS: Our good friends at HKFlix are offering this at the low price of $17.95! So what you waiting for?