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Year of the Dragon

Year: 1985
Production Co: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Director: Michael Cimino
Producer: Dino De Laurentiis
Writer: Michael Cimino/Oliver Stone
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Ariane, Raymond J Barry

It's a rite of passage for any good looking actor riding a career high to search for more dramatic, meatier material, but for Mickey Rourke this film came before his 'star' period of Angel Heart.

After the debacle of Heaven's Gate, it appears the powers that be gave Michael Cimino one more chance with a budget, but after not even scraping that back his sweeping sage of the rise of a Chinese mafia don was his last bow, the few films he directed thereafter all uninspiring flops.

Rourke is Stanley White, an uncompromising cop who rubs his superiors up the wrong way when he pursues a scorched Earth policy organised crime in New York's Chinatown district, busting into meetings, making threats and starting fights when politics dictates the cops use kid gloves.

But when ambitious young mob lieutenant Joey Tai starts rising up through the ranks and takes control with a combination of smarts and bloodletting, all out war threatens to spill over into the streets.

The script gets the right blend of action and drama right, contrasting the thriller movie scenes like the restaurant shoot-out with those of Stanley trying to connect with his wife.

The character of reporter Tracy Tzu (Ariane), who Stanley uses as a conduit into the Chinatown world and who reflects his Irish Catholic Boston roots back at him shamefully, was a little ham fisted, but it's a worthy urban drama and it's no real surprise to learn Oliver Stone contributed to the screenplay.

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