Sunday, November 21, 2010

Year of the Dragon Review

Year of the Dragon, 1985
Reviewed by: Daniel S.
Directed by: Michael Cimino
Written By: Oliver Stone, Michael Cimino
Starring: Mickey Rourke, John Lone, Ariane Koizumi, Dennis Dun.
Language: English

Scripted by Oliver Stone, Year of the Dragon is a dark, edgy, and complex action film rich in weighty character study and politically incorrect social issues. Working with a huge budget, award winning director Michael Cimino suavely glides his camera through gorgeous detailed sets that range from elaborate urban settings to drab suburban trappings and even exotic global locations. Despite the early 80s setting and a few dated hair cuts, the film is strangely timeless, drawing heavily from the gritty look of classic gangster films. The shoot outs and chase sequences are small scale and spacious but bloody and shocking when they erupt at unexpected moments, escalating in brutality and emotional impact as the film progresses. There's also some impressive real car wreckage you just don't see in modern films.

Already world weary and battle scarred, Mickey Rourke dominates the movie as its morally ambiguous protagonist, delivering a charismatic but layered performance that demands the audience understand him even if they don’t completely like everything about him. He comes across as racist, sexist, and selfish but also genuinely tragic and heroic. The physicality he brings to the role is also impressive; his crude realistic punches putting the decade’s bigger action stars to shame. The soft spoken John Lone is as classy and unusual as villains get, ruthless but cool and oddly likable. Tall husky voiced, Ariane Koizumi gives a strong supporting performance as Rourke’s reluctant lover, their anti-cliche romance seeming geniune despite an emotional distance on the surface. Dennis Dun also shines in a brief but sympathetic role.


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