Year of the Dragon (1985)

Genres - Crime, Action  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Police Detective Film  |   Run Time - 136 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - R
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This urban crime epic has style to burn but is ultimately unsatisfying; this is unfortunate because director Michael Cimino has the visual touch Year of the Dragon needs. He films the story's events in a sweeping and sumptuous style and brings a real kinetic flair to the film's action sequences. Unfortunately, the script leaves the viewer with precious few reasons to become emotionally invested: the character of Stanley White is as selfish as he is irresponsible and the film's two major female characters are portrayed as icy, overbearing caricatures. There's also a relentlessly shrill tone to the film; characters never have real conversations, they either trade insults or shout at each other. Thankfully, there are a few good performances to reward the patient viewer: Mickey Rourke puts the full weight of his charisma behind Stanley White and manages to make him compelling if not likeable, while John Lone is the epitome of sly evil as his Chinatown nemesis. Their battle of wills generates real dramatic sparks, it's just a shame the film they're in doesn't offer them a better vehicle.