Year of the Dragon 1.0 stars

A sort of Chinese Godfather, set in New York's Chinatown. In the interest of cultural documentation, there is a lot of laboriously expository dialogue played in the snappy, snappish manner of a Sidney Lumet movie, a Serpico or a Prince of the City. But we are not given nearly enough to go on, to gauge the credibility of the reform-minded Polish cop (Mickey Rourke, whose gray hairs change in number, location, and shade from scene to scene). That he regards his war against the Chinese Mafia as somehow equivalent to the Vietnam Conflict does not bolster confidence in him. But more likely it is director Michael Cimino in whom our confidence ought to sag. The romantic relationship between the racist cop and the Chinese-American TV reporter never remotely makes sense. And why introduce a rookie Chinese cop as the key to police undercover operations and then ignore him for an hour? Some vivid outbursts of violence prevent the movie, or the spectator, from slipping into a coma. And some new ground has perhaps been broken with the unique credit of "Photographed and Operated by Alex Thomson." To be sure, the movie is impressive photographically, whether or not "operationally." But the wording of the new credit would seem to need some refinement. Surely these two verbs require different subjects. The movie can have been photographed by Alex Thomson, but not very well operated by him. On the other hand, he cannot have photographed the camera, can he? With John Lone and Ariane. 1985.

Duncan Shepherd

This movie is not currently in theaters.


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