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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20.69%
Worth A Look51.72%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 20.69%
Total Crap: 6.9%

3 reviews, 11 user ratings

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Year of the Dragon
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by Jack Sommersby

"Dazzling 'Dragon'"
4 stars

It starts awesomely with David Mansfield's evocative score over the opening credits, and never lets up until the fantastic end.

Michael Cimino's Year of the Dragon, an adaptation of Robery Daley's excellent novel, is dumber than a ton of bricks but is executed with such extraordinary flair that it plays out in truly breathtaking fashion. It's totally nonsensical, and the logic loopholes are plentiful, which you wouldn't think possible in a screenplay written by two Oscar winners in Cimino and Oliver Stone -- then again, the former earned his for the odious The Deer Hunter and the latter for the trite Platoon. The dialogue is damn near sub-mental ("I'm not Italian, I'm Polish, and I can't be bought"), and the plot construction clunky to say the least. So why does the movie play out like absolute gangbusters and offers up zenith-level entertainment value from start to finish? Thats because Cimino is a born director with an uncanny eye for 'Scope composition and a penchant for tantalizing movement within the widescreen frame. He's strictly a visual virtuoso, and like a lot of talented directors (like Kathryn Bigelow before she wisely stopped co-writing her screenplays) he stumbles when he "thinks" -- he can't articulate what he wants to get across in intelligent literate terms. That's why the story -- that of New York supercop Stanley White (Mickey Rourke) determined to take down Chinatown crime lord Joey Tai (John Lone) -- has no gravitas and is nothing more than a collage of cliches. Still, Cimino manages (after a five-year hiatus after his notorious, studio-bankrupting megaflop Heaven's Gate) to keep the proceedings dazzlingly alive to where the scenes, which have no narrative sense but plenty of panache, are as well staged as one could hope for. Working with cinematographer Alex Thomson (who luxuriously photographed Excalibur), Cimino gives each and every scene a vitality that pops and crackles with cinematic aplomb -- even a standardized dialogue scene of characters talking in familiarities plays out much better than it should because the compositions are so dead-on and ungodly expressive. It's the texture of the scene that counts, and the numerous action sequences (like a shootout in a crowded Chinese restaurant and a contract killing on White that both fall out into the street, and a grand finale involving a Mercedes and a locomotive) are breathtaking in execution. (It also helps that the master French editor, Francoise Bonnot, is working in top form.) And while White is no more than two-dimensional (more the fault of the writing than Rourke's valiant effort), Lone, in an absolutely brilliant performance, makes for a hypnotic villain who's the ultimate mix of good manners and maliciousness -- he's got the Devil's eyes along with his fancy Armani suits. The movie is outlandish fun, and if you can see past all the sexist nudity and gratuitous violence, you can readily recognize Cimino for being the born entertainer he undeniably is. It's the ultimate in style-over-substance that you can more than respect in the morning.

The DVD boats a wonderful 2.35:1 trasnfer, and Cimino's audio commentary is incredibly informative.

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originally posted: 01/28/11 10:06:04
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User Comments

6/11/08 Jass Hands down, one of the most underrated of the 80s noir 4 stars
2/12/08 jet rourke likealways is underapreciated 4 stars
8/18/07 DARREN LORENTE It is a great action movie, very well executed with good performances 5 stars
10/29/06 spasmodic Total crap: Jerky script, imbecilic characters, poor screenplay and lacklustre acting. 1 stars
5/30/06 Mikey Ramone Lone is smooth, Rourke believable & charismatic. 5 stars
12/01/05 ShadowFace5 A bit slow but well "worth a look" 4 stars
11/01/05 tatum Cimino and Stone take a decent novel and ruin it 1 stars
11/23/04 Sugarfoot Slyder once again proves why he's the worst critic here. 5 stars
8/17/04 Herolder Very tense, with a great Mickey Rourke 5 stars
7/31/04 Jack Sommersby Rickety script elevated by bravura direction. Alive, colorful & mammothly entertaining. 5 stars
12/08/03 john a powefull crime story - exiting and well made 5 stars
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  16-Aug-1985 (R)
  DVD: 31-May-2005



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