By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on July 13, 2019)
Year of the Dragon – Warner Brothers
This brutal, visceral crime thriller/culture clash drama from 1985 is one of writer-director Michael Cimino’s most polarizing films. Nonetheless, it has garnered a sizable cult following over the years.
Co-written by Oliver Stone and based on Robert Daley’s novel, Cimino’s follow-up to his critically drubbed 1980 epic Heaven’s Gate (no pressure!) divided both critics and audiences with its uncompromising take on gang violence, the international drug trade, and ethnic stereotyping.
Mickey Rourke stars as a decorated NYC police captain newly assigned to Chinatown who embarks on a single-minded mission to bust up the various criminal enterprises run by the district’s powerful triads (by any means necessary). Rourke’s combative “cop on the edge” (also a Vietnam vet) is equal parts Popeye Doyle and Archie Bunker; his casual racism suggests that he may have not been the ideal political choice for this posting.
Rourke really pulls out all the stops. John Lone also does a great turn as his sociopathic nemesis, a politically savvy rising star in the Chinese mob.
As usual, Warner skimps on extras (there’s a commentary track by Cimino), but image and sound quality are tops.