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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars timeless performance from Rourke
Perhaps not the greatest film, but I always remember this one because of Rourke's performance as a cop doggedly struggling to do the right thing in the face of impossible odds - including his own arrogance and ignorance. Stanley White is almost impossible to like as a character but Rourke somehow instils beneath all the character's unpleasant attitudes and manner an...
Published on 10 Sep 2008 by richard

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Special fried Rice or Hong Kong Duck ?
This is either a spicy flawed classic or an over boiled turkey. True it does have some great set pieces. The tasty shoot-out in the shanghai restaurant and the final bridge shoot-out scene is especially good well lit and designed. But between these tasty appetizers are some bloated main courses.

If any film illustrates why not to cast models in lead roles it's...
Published on 2 April 2007 by M. Locke


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars timeless performance from Rourke, 10 Sep 2008
This review is from: Year Of The Dragon [DVD] (DVD)
Perhaps not the greatest film, but I always remember this one because of Rourke's performance as a cop doggedly struggling to do the right thing in the face of impossible odds - including his own arrogance and ignorance. Stanley White is almost impossible to like as a character but Rourke somehow instils beneath all the character's unpleasant attitudes and manner an almost saintly purity of purpose and 'good'. It's a timeless performance of how the cynicism and corruption of the world and the brutality of his nature should make White hopelessly evil, yet somehow he rises above himself to be something better than the 'good' people around him. Harvey Keitel did something similar in Bad Lieutenant, but Rourke was there first.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "This is Chinatown, White...", 22 Nov 2007
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Year Of The Dragon [DVD] (DVD)
Michael Cimino said part of the reason he made it Year of the Dragon was to prove that he could come in on time and on budget (which he did) after being fired from Footloose for asking for a very minor increase in the budget (can you blame them after Heaven's Gate?) and seeing The Yellow Jersey and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (a four hour western with most of the dialogue in Sioux? Sure, Mr Cimino, and shall we declare bankruptcy now to save time?) fall through. Tempting fate, Cimino even cast two of the bit players from Heaven's Gate in the leads, Mickey Rourke sporting stylishly grayed hair and Caroline Kava as his ovulating wife.

Yes, the dialogue is highly variable and the epilogue ("He's a good cop but he just won't give up!") is worthy of public ridicule. Yes, the Vietnam parallels are overplayed at every opportunity ("It's just like Vietnam! Nobody wants to win this thing!"). Yes, the plot is pretty much standard-issue. Yes, co-writer Oliver Stone and Cimino show off their research by giving characters big historical speeches about Chinese civilization and the hundred years of discrimination the Chinese suffered in America at every turn. Yes, the motivation is sometimes laughable - they kill Rourke's partners and a family member but it's only when they lay hands on his mistress that he decides that "This time he's gone TOO FAR!" But there's an epic grandeur to the film that's unusual in the cop movie genre. It's not just scenes like the spectacular entry into a drug-dealing Thai general's village either: even the nightclub where Mickey Rourke beats up John Lone (quite excellent here) is large enough to hold an aircraft carrier. Cimino doesn't really do small, and his sense of grandeur gives the film a gravity it doesn't really deserve. And his eye for a good set piece that deserted his subsequent films is still very visible in the restaurant shootout. Overblown it may be, but it's far from being just a guilty pleasure.

Although widescreen, Sanctuary's DVD comes up short on extras - the French edition also has a trailer while the US disc includes a pretty decent audio commentary by Cimino and trailer.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forget it, kid! It's Chinatown!, 2 Jun 2004
This review is from: Year Of The Dragon [DVD] (DVD)
The title refers to the immortal line from the Roman Polanski 1974 film noir classic. Although that film ends in Chinatown, Year of the Dragon is Chinatown. The characters in it, Detective Stanley White and Joey Tai don't own Chinatown, instead, Chinatown owns them and eventually devours them.
The script is a relentless tour de force from Oliver Stone. Considering the excesses that comes with his scripts (Midnight Express and Scarface), this movie may seem like a mundane cop and robbers flick.
This was director Michael Cimino's first film since the debacle known as Heaven's Gate that nearly derailed United Artist in 1980. Having said that, it would be short of a miracle that he could actually direct again in Tinseltown. Nevertheless, this was a film-hungry director who seemed desperately in redeeming his soul.
Another lengthy note on the characters in this film. A great comparison could be made between this film and the equally under-rated William Friedkin's 80s magnum opus, "To Live and Die in LA". Both the protaganists are by and large, immoral, possessed unorthodox work ethnics and extremely obsessiion driven to nab their criminal counterparts even if it meant breaking the law itself. To add a further dimension, Mickey Rourke's character is a tad racist too, this is further accentuated by the fact that his surname, White, has a supremacist undertone.
The film, largely ignored in the mid 80s, is rather intense, to say the least. It remains one of the few movies that I have been waiting to be put up on DVD.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best gangster / crime films of all time - brilliant, 13 Jun 2008
This review is from: Year Of The Dragon [DVD] (DVD)
In fact, this is not just one of the great crime films of all time, it is one of the best films of the 80s full stop.

Rourke is absolutely fantastic, as he showed in Pope of Greenwich Village, 9.5 Weeks, Angel Heart, Johnny Handsome etc. He was the greatest male film star of the 80s - better, more consistent, more vulnerable, cooler and better looking than either De Niro or Pacino. Here, Rourke plays a determined, obsessive, flawed yet vulnerable NY cop out to bring down a Triad gang that is taking over Manhattan from the mafia. For me Rourke has always been a favourite because he wears his heart and emotional vulnerability on his sleeve - compare him to the indestructable leads today. If it were remade perhaps they would have Jason Statham in the lead role? Ha!

If you like grand cinema, epic scenes and (melo)drama, this is an excellent film. People criticise the film for being too long, slow and melodramatic. I completely disagree. To me these are all positives. This film, like The Godfather and The Deer Hunter, is like a good novel - the detail, pace and drama connect you to the characters. I can only imagine that people who criticise YotD or the Deer Hunter, for instance, prefer fast, choppy editing, SFX and plastic babe characters.

The fractious, distant and unloving relationship between Stanley and Connie is brilliantly portrayed. The fact that Connie is not a dolly-bird model makes it all the better - these are real people with real relationships and problems. Again, if this film were remade now, Connie would have to be played by and made to look like a fake supermodel.

Personally, I love the melodrama in this film. It's what is missing from cinema now. The 70s in particular were full of great melodramatic stories like The Godfather, The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs Kramer and the like - they packed an emotional wallop. Now everything is slick, carbon-copied fluff, churned out from a cookie-cutter process with identikit cinematography and pretty cast.

The fact the film ends with Mahler's Resurrection just makes it even better.

An undiscovered gem of the 80s.
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4.0 out of 5 stars When Rourke was Hot Stuff !!!, 14 Dec 2007
This review is from: Year Of The Dragon [DVD] (DVD)
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.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An overlooked minor classic, 17 Jan 2005
By 
Mr. Warren M. Fisher (East Grinstead, West Sussex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Year Of The Dragon [DVD] (DVD)
A searing urban crime movie that ranks right up with the best of the genre. An incendiary script, evocative and explosive direction, and great performances all add up to an unfairly overlooked minor classic. Featuring a powerhouse performance from Mickey Rourke, back before he and director Cimino ('The Deer Hunter') squandered their singular talents, this is an unforgettable experience.
The film ranks as a five-star classic, but is marked as a four due to the total lack of extras on the disc.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First aid for a seemingly underappreciated film..?, 9 Jun 2002
First of all, it is a sorry state of affairs indeed that the availability of this film seems to be rather limited. So for all you Rourke-fans out there, know that there at least exists a region 2 DVD and a NTSC format video.
The already available Amazon synopsis easily conveys the main points of this film's plot. So, why sit at 2 a.m in the morning writing a five-star review for a film which also included its fair share of cliches and apparent storyline glitches ? Well, firstly, this is one of those marvellous Rourke-performances where he suddenly has you caught between caring deeply for the character and utterly despairing about his seemingly inborn desire for self destruction. Nobody does it better.
Secondly, this is a Michael Cimino-film technically reminiscent of that classic The Deer Hunter. The camera seems to have a life of its own, encompassing broad scenes rich with details. Throw Oliver Stone and Dino de Laurentiis into the mix, and the result can't be anything else but interesting.
A must for Rourke-fans. A sensible waste of two hours on a Sunday afternoon for most other film enthusiasts.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Oliver Stone script, 14 Nov 2008
While this movie was made over 23 years ago, it not only holds up over time, it gets better with age. I am delighted it is now out on DVD.

Mickey Rourke turns in a great performance as Stanley White. Not the Mickey Rourke of today who has had so much plastic surgery (and 4 years as a professional boxing) we can't recognise him anymore. Shame. He is brash, crass, electric in this Cimino movie - redemption after the disaster Heavens Gate.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Only Lacks One Thing!, 29 April 2014
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This review is from: Year Of The Dragon [DVD] (DVD)
Enjoyed Michael Cimino's venture into Chinatown very much. A great deal of effort went into the making of this film, including a lot of Chinese dialogue (obviously requiring sub-titling) on the part of the leading Chinatown protagonists but this only adds to the film's verisimilitude so you have to stick with it.

The film is very well scripted and directed in all its 'specifics' but somehow, as a whole, there seems to be something 'missing' and, overall, I felt it just didn't quite gel come the end. Can't really put my finger on it but aspects like the denouement with Stanley White and the Chinese reporter seemingly getting together at the end somehow didn't work for me since their relationship hadn't really struck me as being any great love affair - certainly not compared to the emphasis placed on White's marriage by the director (as well as several of the other players in the story) and especially when you consider White's wife, Connie, is horribly murdered by his Chinatown adversaries.

I also found myself 'at odds' with White's whole approach to the Chinatown problem. It's quite obvious that he wasn't 'tasked' by his superiors to go in there and stir everything up with a stick the way he does and yet it's a long time before he gets reeled in by his own people. Highly-decorated cop he may be but resolving a problem such as Chinatown is portrayed to be is hardly a job for a solo maverick with questionable people skills!

That said, I have nothing but praise for Mickey Rourke as Stanley White. Like Burt Reynolds in Deliverance, you feel that Rourke had all the makings of another Brando when you see him in some of his early roles and I thought he did a stellar job here with the Stanley White character. It's really thanks to Rourke that I liked Stanley White at all!

I thought John Lone was brilliant as White's chief opposition and here was another actor who put his heart and soul into the role he played. I'm sorry not to have seen Lone in other sizeable roles as he carried this off brilliantly, I thought. Perhaps someone can recommend another of his performances to me.

To sum up, I found Year of the Dragon to be a very good film - just not a great one (Cimino's Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is the one that does it for me). Whilst you're watching YOTD it's a very involving and atmospheric film but afterwards I found I was left feeling vaguely dissatisfied. Still, that won't stop me from watching it again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars dragon, 6 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Year Of The Dragon [DVD] (DVD)
michael cimminos first film since the dreadful heavens gate.this is an excellent crime thriller with the always brilliant mickey rourke
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