Year of the Dragon

6.92 h 14 min1985R
A Vietnam vet turned New York City cop vows to bring down a Chinatowncrime lord.
Michael Cimino
Mickey RourkeJohn LoneAriane
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Leonard TermoRaymond J. BarryCaroline KavaEddie JonesJoey ChinVictor Wong
Dino De Laurentiis
Warner Bros.
R (Restricted)
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4.5 out of 5 stars

664 global ratings

  1. 71% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 15% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 7% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Joshua LeeReviewed in the United States on September 4, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
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Buyer beware you are being cheated out of the Director's intended final line!! I saw this shockingly good film projected at Quentin Tarantino's 'New Beverly Cinema' this weekend and was horrified to later find out that the movie's final line where Mickey Rourke's character says "Well, I guess if you fight a war long enough, you end up marrying the enemy" was cut out because of studio politics and people know an inferior version of the Film which is what you are buying here on Amazon.
If there is a God, this movie will have a Director's Cut Ultra UHD 4k restoration release of the 35mm Film print I witnessed this evening in Los Angeles. They don't make movies any more today. After seeing this movie I am convinced that there was once a breed of mythological human beings that told stories with no regard to the delicate "feelings" of a hypothetical audience. We live in inferior times where movies are no longer made. Politically correct nightmare collages is what we have today. All who work in the business can take a cue from this film and consider to make stories that are what they are instead of what you think they should be in the homogenized politically correct sense. Audiences are dying to see stories like this.

Release the Director's intended cut! Restore the final intended line! It is the only version that makes sense because it is the only one I know after seeing it for the first time this evening.
60 people found this helpful
M. G WatsonReviewed in the United States on April 17, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
"You're too impressed with yourself. **** you."
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YEAR OF THE DRAGON is one of those movies that deserved a much larger audience than it actually found. If it is not a classic, it certainly stands comfortably enough with many a fabled gritty cop/crime drama of the 70s and 80s -- high praise when one considers the 70s/80s were the Golden Age of cop/crime dramas. In it we see many trademarks: the fanatical attention to detail and powerful cinematographic eye of Michael Camino; the unedeniable charisma of a prime Mickey Rourke; and the combination of edgy genius and "dépasser les bornes" typical of Oliver Stone's screenplays. This is a crime epic of sorts, traversing half the planet yet often managing to feel as gritty, steamy and claustrophobic as the Chinatown alleyways it depicts.

YEAR OF THE DRAGON opens with a double event: the murder of an old-school Chinese-American Tong leader in Chinatown, and the ascension to command of the 5th (Chinatown) Precinct of the NYPD by one Captain Stanley White (Rourke): a hard-charging, tough-talking Vietnam vet whose big mouth and penchant for making enemies has made him a semi-pariah within his own department. White has arrived determine to bust up the smoothly-running organized crime machine of the Tongs, much to the displeasure of their ambitious new chieftain, the brilliant young phenom Joey Tai (John Lone), who has bold plans to expand Chinese power vs. the Italian Mafia and take a deeper dive into the heroin trade. The stage is immediately set for a conflict, and doesn't disappoint.

At the same time, White, whose marriage to childhood sweetheart Connie (Caroline Kava) is circling the drain, finds himself increasingly attracted to fiesty Chinese-American journalist Tracy Tzu (Arianne Koizumi), who is aggravating Joey Tai with her exposes on the Hong Kong-Chinatown heroin connection. He is also fighting incessantly with the NYPD brass, represented by his more conservative old pal Louis Bukowski (Raymond J. Barry), who are uncomfortable with his methods and, well, him personally. Tai also has his hands full, not only with White, but with the old guard of his own organization, and Golden Triangle heroin dealers whose respect he must win if he wants to corner the market and cement his power base. The film moves at a steady, violent pace through all forms of intrigue toward a final confrontation between the obsessed cop and the equally obsessed criminal, neither of whom spares much thought to the idea of "collateral damage."

YEAR OF THE DRAGON is an unusual film, really more in the spirit of the gritty, nasty-minded 70s than the slicker, more chrome-finished 80s. Like Popeye Doyle of THE FRENCH CONNECTION or Buddy Manucci of THE SEVEN-UPS, White is a nasty piece of work: obnoxious, pushy, selfish, and more than a little racist, he's often difficult to root for, especially as he pursues Tracy while ignoring his long-suffering wife's humiliating disintegration. This is a man who smashes his way through life, leaving wreckage in his wake, for the pursuit of a noble goal which seems to be as much about satisfying his ego as broad concepts like "the public good." Mickey Rourke seems to have been born to play men like this, and he doesn't disappoint either: though he never succeeds in making the audience like White, we understand his mission and obsession and feel his pain. This is a man perfectly calibrated to be one thing -- a street cop -- and absolutely nothing else. As a husband, as a friend, as a lover, even as a human being, he consistently fails.

John Lone's remarkable performance as Joey Tai has also been forgotten by the audiences who didn't show up to see this movie or were so perturbed by the "racist" cloud hanging over the film that they somehow failed to notice it. Tai is a phenom: a young, smooth-talking, college-educated crime lord with absolutely no scruples and just one goal: the increase of his own power at the expense of everyone in his way. Like White, who he clearly parallels in some ways, Tai is a man apart: he has no woman in his life, and no goals but domination. A Machiavellian by nature, he is a master of the double-cross, but fares less well in open confrontation; and being daunted by the crude, vulgar, boastful White seems to trigger a persecution complex in him which makes Tai almost sympathetic, even as he punishes White in the cruelest way possible and forces the inevitable dockyard showdown.

Other actors make impressions in the movie. The venerable Victor Wong (best known for BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA) does good work as Harry Yung, a shrewd, more conservative Tong boss bloodlessly displaced by Joey Tai, who makes grumpy noises from the sidelines. Raymond J. Barry, in rather a thankless role, impresses with his passion for the character Bukowski, who serves as the ineffectual conscience of Stanley White. Dennis Dun (also from BTiLC) has a smallish role as the young, high-strung Chinese-American cop Herbert Kwong, but does a helluva lot with it.

From a production standpoint YEAR OF THE DRAGON is absolutely masterful. The obsessive-compulsive Camino rebuilt most of Manhattan's Chinatown on huge soundstages in Wilmington, North Carolina, and they were constructed so perfectly and in such minute detail that no less a director than Stanley Kubrick refused to believe that Cimino hadn't shot the movie in Chinatown proper: it is literally impossible for a viewer to tell the difference from the real thing. As for the script, when it works, which is does most of the time, it seems almost to crackle with edge and authenticity. I am acquainted with some Chinese-Americans who ran with the gangs in question in the 80s and they universally pronounced the movie to be about as realistic as a movie could be, when one considers the cultural gaps and, of course, the necessity of streamlining a very complex politico-criminal situation to fit into a two-hour movie.

DRAGON does have serious faults. Most of the charges of racism made against this movie were bunkum -- it is the cops who are racist, not the movie -- but White's view of the Chinese is hardly in line with modern values. Hell, it is hardly in line with basic human morality. Indeed, he's a pretty disgusting person and sometimes very hard to root for. On top of this, the decision to cast Arianne Koizumi, a model with no acting experience, was perhaps questionable despite the very shallow talent pool of Asian actresses in Hollywood in the mid-1980s. Her performance is nowhere near as bad as spiteful critics at the time made it out to be, and there are moments when she actually connects with her Muse, but she was too inexperienced as an actress to carry the heavy burden she was assigned for this movie. But the movie's biggest issue are the moments when Oliver Stone, who co-wrote the script, goes full Oliver Stone and trades his very sharp quill for a nail-studded baseball bat dipped in ink. Stone has never been able to refrain from doing this: even his masterpieces tend to have at least one moment where he suddenly forgets how to write dialog and makes the propagandist's mistake of telling the audience what to think and feel instead of guiding them to those thoughts and feelings. There are several of these moments in DRAGON and the one at the end very nearly ruins the entire movie.

For all of this, DRAGON is a movie that actually "gets" its subject matter. Chinatown is shown its grandeur and its squalor. The NYPD is exposed for the truly political organization it is. And when Tai sits down with the Mafia (a terrific sequence), or to the wilds beyond Bangcock to parlay with heroin-dealing warlords, we understand the complex tangle of alliances and negotiations necessary for the international drug trade to exist. It is the human elements which are sticky and depressing, but most of that seems to have been intended. It's not possible to dance with the dragon and end up clean and unscarred. And this is what most of YEAR OF THE DRAGON's critics forget.
3 people found this helpful
Danny RoviraReviewed in the United States on March 15, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
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Michael Cimino's explosive, ultra-violent epic crime drama which would prove to be his last great film. It concerns a jaded, single-minded racist police captain named Stanley White, who also is the most action decorated cop in New York City, he is brilliantly played by Mickey Rourke in a mesmerizing powerhouse performance. He is on a crusade to bring down corruption, extortion and murder in New York City's Chinatown by the Chinese youth gangs which are run by a savvy handsome Triad crime lord named Joey Tai, played magnificently by the gifted Asian actor John Lone in a Golden Globe Award nominated performance for Best Supporting Actor. Stanley must balance his intense desire to capture Tai with his intense feelings for a beautiful Asian television news reporter, Tracy Tzu, well-played by Ariane, who is helping him with his crusade against this powerful suave crime lord. Despite the protests of his brought-off supervisors that hate him because he constantly points out their hypocrisies. The adrenaline-charged violence is amazing which includes a show-stopping gunmen attack on a posh Chinese restaurant and a frenzied white-knuckled climax which is a bravura piece of filmmaking. Skillful direction by the late Cimino with a compelling screenplay by Oliver Stone. But the centerpiece of this film is Rourke who will totally blow you away by the realism and intensity of his acting, and there is fantastic supporting performances from Caroline Kava, Raymond J. Barry, Victor Wong, and Dennis Dun. Extraordinary cinematography by the late great Alex Thomson, and a superb Golden Globe Award nominated score by David Mansfield. A unique, forgotten cinematic gem from the 80s. Highly recommended.
7 people found this helpful
Matt StevensReviewed in the United States on May 31, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent Warner Archive Blu-Ray
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This Blu-Ray shows what Warner Archive can do. There are nearly no extras, but the film itself looks and sounds incredible. I truly despise when studios use grain reduction on these older films as it turns the image into mush. Here the fine film grain is in-tact and the image is wonderfully film-like as a result. The sound mix is equally impressive.

Worth the purchase price, folks.
6 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on February 12, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Like the movie "The Corrupter",this movie is an underrated classic of Chinatown organizd crime.
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I have to watch this movie every now and then,because of the realism of the subject matter.A great movie starring Mickey Rourke in his prime.A violent movie,but i enjoy the fact that this is what really goes on inn real life.I watch many mob movies.This is one of my favorites.Another movie that is underrated is "Millers Crossing",and also"State Of Grace".Those are Irish mob movies.For anyone who has never seen "The Year Of The Dragon",you have to watch this move,and then "The Corrupter",with Chow Yun Fat and Mark Wahlberg.You will not be disappointed.I recommend this movie and all of those that i mentioned if you like gangster movies.
4 people found this helpful
S.H79Reviewed in the United States on October 7, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent 80's movie
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I remember when this came out in theaters, I was a sophomore in high school at the time. This movie had so much controversy within the Chinese community and there were protests to ban the movie and lots of bad presses against Michael Cimino (movie director) for portraying Chinese as triads and gangsters. That being said, I still really enjoyed it and to watch it more than 3 decades later it still looks fresh.
2 people found this helpful
ReviewerReviewed in the United States on December 2, 2013
4.0 out of 5 stars
A Solid Effort from an Erratic Genius
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Michael Cimino has gotten a bad rap over the years. He's known fondly for "The Deer Hunter," his Vietnam epic, and he is widely derided for the box-office bomb "Heaven's Gate," a film which came notoriously close to destroying a studio, and had a chilling effect Hollywood-wide on big budget movie making for years to come. If people can put aside the baggage that comes attached to his name, I think they would enjoy this movie, one of Cimino's most fascinating outings.

The plot is pretty basic. A wildcard captain gets transferred to Chinatown, where a war over the heroin trade and protection rackets has boiled over into the streets, and has led to a blood feud between the Chinese triads and the Italians, as well as internecine scuffles among the Chinese. Mickey Rourke's performance is alternately muted and over-the-top, but never boring. The movie is at its best during the action sequences (one of which involving a man versus a train is famously considered to be one of the best staged in movie history), and the sexual tension evoked between the cop and the Chinese-American female reporter is also well-handled and believable.

The movie is definitely pleasing in visual terms, with rain-slicked, neon-soaked streets and sets so believable that they reportedly fooled Bronx native Stanley Kubrick, who was in attendance at the film's premier. "Year of the Dragon" hits pretty much all of the cop cliches fans of the sub-genre have come to expect, but there are some genuinely thrilling moments, and those who are generally fans of Mickey Rourke need to buy or rent this ASAP.

A good movie, with some great scenes, and its treatment of racial tension will alternately offend or fascinate, based on the viewer's own tolerance for political incorrectness.
8 people found this helpful
Mickey RyanReviewed in the United States on November 25, 2012
3.0 out of 5 stars
Good but should've been great...
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...with a plot like this - a racist Polish-American NYPD captain and Nam vet from Brooklyn (Rourke) becomes obsessed with taking down the ruthless Chinese Mafia in Chinatown. Based on the novel by Richard Daley and adapted for the screen by Oliver Stone and director Michael Cimino - YEAR OF THE DRAGON is a mid-80s crime noir thriller that caused a substantial amount of uproar among New York's Chinese community at the time of its release. Rourke's portrayal of Stanley "Stan" White (born Stanisław Luszinski) is somewhat preachy and repetitive, and the film as a whole seems to drown under its own weight of self-importance. Yet as much as the film is flawed it does has plenty of fantastic moments that I won't reveal and make it a worthwhile watch ("You're soaring too high kid. And the air is real thin up there!"). It also makes me realize just how much we need more films about this subject. One of the reasons the topic of the Asian underworld in America is so underexposed in movies and media is because it is a deep underground subculture that few actually understand. Anyone interested should start with [[ASIN:0380720337 Born to Kill]] and/or [[ASIN:081282752X The Chinese Mafia : The Most Frightening New Organization In International Crime]].

3 stars for YEAR OF THE DRAGON. Good but not great.
6 people found this helpful
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