Intense, mean, and violent, Michael Cimino’s Year of the Dragon is really overdue for a Blu-ray release. It’s sort of hammy with its dialogue but it’s no less entertaining for being so. Alex Thomson’s bravura cinematography consistently dazzles. The visceral, blazing shootouts feel real and wildly dangerous. The nightclub scenes are electric, clearly paving the way for Collateral/Vice-era Mann. Rourke is both agonizing and heroic, and even if he might not have been truly old enough for the part as written, he was his usual, fascinating self, always a reserve of surprise, ever the actor to keep you guessing. David Mansfield’s evocative musical score heightens the mood and Wolf Kroeger’s absurdly amazing production design is beyond sumptuous — you’d never know that almost the entire film was shot on North Carolina sound stages. The screenplay, co-written by Cimino and Oliver Stone from Robert Daley’s novel, is both on the nose and subtle, cliched and unpredictable, which is no easy accomplishment, while the level of startling and bloody violence is bracing to behold — people get FUCKED up in this movie. Cimino, as always, just totally went for it, giving this explosive if at times overwrought narrative tons of dynamic sequences and individual moments, while also hammering home his distinct visual aesthetic, which here borrowed neo-noir and gangster movie elements to tell a propulsive and engrossing story that feels intimate and epic all at once. The production value on this movie truly is wondrous, I can’t say it enough.


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