Top positive review
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Only Lacks One Thing!
on 29 April 2014
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.