Taglines: It isn’t the Bronx or Brooklyn. It isn’t even New York. It’s Chinatown… and it’s about to explode.
Chinatown, New York City. There has long been an unofficial agreement that the NYPD will leave the traditionally run Chinese triad alone to manage the crime issue in the neighborhood, the triad who is the face of organized crime of Chinatown. The triad also has an unofficial agreement with the Italian mafia, still seen as the major player in organized crime in the city, to be cooperative in a win-win situation in their illegal activities.
However, the Chinese youth gangs are disregarding these unofficial agreements, being another violent player in the crime scene in Chinatown, they who take a stand by killing Jackie Wong, the head of the triad. To deal with the matter, the NYPD reassign Captain Stanley White from Brooklyn to Chinatown. Stanley, of Polish heritage, is not averse to slinging slurs toward his adversaries, most of those of a racial nature. This reassignment will not help the already deteriorating marriage he has to his long suffering wife, Connie.
Year of the Dragon is a 1985 neo-noir action film directed by Michael Cimino, starring Mickey Rourke, Ariane Koizumi and John Lone. The screenplay was written by Cimino and Oliver Stone and adapted from the novel by Robert Daley. This was Cimino’s first film after the infamous failure of Heaven’s Gate (1980). Year of the Dragon is a New York crime drama and an exploration of gangs, the illegal drug trade, ethnicity, racism, and stereotypes.
About the Story
Stanley White (Rourke) is a decorated police captain and Vietnam War veteran assigned to New York City’s Chinatown, where he makes it his personal mission to come down hard on Chinese organized crime. White comes into conflict with Joey Tai (Lone), a young man who ruthlessly rises to become the head of the Chinese triad societies, and as a result of his ambition, creates a high profile for himself and the triads’ activities. Together, they end the uneasy truce that has existed between the triads and the police precinct, even as they conduct a personal war between one another.
The married captain also becomes romantically involved with Tracy Tzu (Ariane), a television reporter, who comes under brutal attack from the criminals, as does White’s long-suffering wife. This makes him even more determined to destroy the triads, and especially Joey Tai. White also hires an up-and-coming Chinese rookie cop, Herbert to go undercover as one of Tai’s restaurant workers. Herbert manages to get inside information on a drug shipment but is betrayed by corrupt cop Alan Perez and loses his life when Tai is informed by Perez that Herbert’s a cop. Now that Tai raped Tracy, killed Herbert and his wife, White wastes no time confronting Tai right as the shipment comes in.
At the harbor, Tai and his bodyguard are on their way to the shipment when they are confronted by White who attempts to arrest them. Perez drives by, yelling abuse White shoots and kills Perez but Tai draws a gun and shoots White in the hand accidentally killing his bodyguard. Tai flees and runs away on a train bridge. That leads to a showdown where White and Tai run at one another while shooting bullets recklessly. White shoots Tai leaving him wounded. Rather than suffer, Tai asks for White’s gun to commit suicide in front of him.
Year of the Dragon (1985)
Directed by: Michael Cimino
Starring: Mickey Rourke, John Lone, Ariane, Hannah Kozak, Leonard Termo, Raymond J. Barry, Caroline Kava, Eddie Jones, Joey Chin, Victor Wong
Screenplay by: Oliver Stone
Production Design by: Wolf Kroeger
Cinematography by: Alex Thomson
Film Editing by: Françoise Bonnot, Noëlle Boisson
Costume Design by: Marietta Ciriello
Set Decoration by: Robert Drumheller, Richard Kane, Randy Ostrow, Gretchen Rau
Art Direction by: Victoria Paul
Music by: David Mansfield
Distributed by: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, United Artists, Cannon Films
Release Date: August 16, 1985