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Year Of The Dragon
USA 1985
Directed by Michael Cimino
Running time 136 minutes
Rated M
2.5 stars

Michael Cimino has a tilt at joining contemporaries such as Brian De Palma and Francis Ford Coppola with this Chinatown gangland movie and falls considerably short. Scripted by the director with Oliver Stone, if overall it is perfectly bearable in a you’ve seen-it-all-before way, that, with a director of this calibre (this is a kind of companion piece to his best film, 1978’s The Deer Hunter) is a disappointment. At the centre of the action is Mickey Rourke as a former Vietnam veteran and highly decorated "Polack" police officer, Stanley White, who is assigned the task of cleaning up New York City’s Chinatown. If a mis-cast Rourke doing the kind of role that cries out for Al Pacino does a solid job, his character never convinces, being part racist who hasn’t come to terms with America's losing in Vietnam and near-sociopath and part soft-spoken nice guy, the combination coming across more a forced adhesion than characterological complexity. This failure of credibility also eats into the plausibility of his relationship with Chinese TV news reporter (Ariane, an actress who only ever made a handful of films) although does work well with respect to his failing marriage to Connie (Caroline Kava). The script despite rambling on extensively about the role of Chinese immigrants in building America and various socio-cultural dissonances , is largely a pastiche of genre elements, swinging between White’s run-ins with super-slick bad guy Joey Tai (John Lone) and the nutty cop's crap personal life, Cimino never making the film more than the sum of its parts, none of which stand out in a really positive way. BH




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