Synopsis by Mark Deming
In 1975, as the war in Vietnam finally draws to a close, a number of Vietnamese refugees seeking new homes in the United States find themselves housed at the Camp Pendleton Marine base in California, where Sgt. Jim Lance (Patrick Swayze) is put in charge of their care. Lance is a compassionate man who tries to afford the refugees as much dignity and respect as is possible; frustrated by his inability to speak with them directly, Lance strikes up a friendship with Tai (Don Duong), who worked with the U.S. Army as a translator during the war and now wants to settle in America. Tai helps Lance speak with the refugees, and coaches him in conversational Vietnamese. Tai and Lance soon come to realize how much they have in common, and how they are both still coming to terms with the emotional scars inflicted upon them by the war. Tai is looking after his nephew Minh (Trung Nguyen) and niece Anh (Jennifer Tran), who are waiting for their mother to arrive, but Tai is tortured with guilt, convinced he should have given her his seat on the flight to California. Lance, on the other hand, was stationed in America while his brother fought and died in Vietnam, and Lance believes he should have taken his brother's place. Meanwhile, Minh spends his days looking after Anh and wandering the camp; he strikes up a friendship with Addie (Forest Whitaker), a cook at the camp with a passion for art. Together, Addie and Minh try to brighten the refugees' area by creating a large and colorful mural that symbolizes the multicultural America they dream of. Green Dragon was written and directed by Timothy Linh Bui, whose brother Tony Bui helmed the acclaimed drama Three Seasons, which examined life in contemporary Vietnam.
refugee, Vietnamese [nationality], military-base, war, friendship, immigrant, Marines, multicultural, officer, translator, murals