Revenge of the Green Dragons Blu-ray Review
Seeing Martin Scorsese’s name on the cover definitely had me psyched to watch this one. This guy has created instant gang classics and had a firm hand on creating some perfect movies that encompass the corruption that sprawls throughout law enforcement. REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGON feels like a hybrid with GANGS OF NEW YORK and THE DEPARTED’s best elements, but doesn’t quite know what to do with them.
We follow two young Chinese illegal immigrants by the name of Sonny (Chon) and Steven (Wu) as they grow up in early 80’s in gang riddled New York. Through a brutal ritual that would make even college fraternities cringe, the two become a part of the gang called the Green Dragons. As expected, they go from teenage underlings to some of the top dogs in the gang. Keeping a close eye on the gang’s exploits is the FBI. Agent Michael Bloom (Liotta) offers his supremacist view on Chinese gangs tearing apart the moral fabric of New York.
That’s as simple as I can deliver the plot to you because there’s so many moving parts and subplots condensed into an hour and a half, it can be incredibly overwhelming. I’ll just touch upon some of them to give you an idea of how much of a mess this movie can be. Sonny develops a love interest that goes from loving to hating him. This is his main concern and her reason boils down to Sonny devising a couple of failed plots; one that involves moving drugs through common pastries. Then there’s Steven, his main beef is breaking a cardinal gang rule, “Don’t kill any whites”. He does this after hustling a restaurant owner. These two plots alone happen sporadically between gang rivalries.
I don’t think I have enough fingers to count how many gangs are in this movie. While this movie takes place in the U.S., there’s also gang influence from China and maybe some new gangs from China trying to establish a foothold in the U.S. With so much happening, the supposed message that’s trying to take shape becomes incoherent and becomes buried under a bumbling script. REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGON is a simple pastiche of much better gang movies that ran out of canvas in which to paint its ideas on.
It’s like a kid in the candy aisle, constantly grabbing at one chocolate bar to the next sugary sweet proclaiming that this one is their favorite. It spends so much time chasing after unresolved issues, the climax escalates unnecessarily and the end happens so quickly you’d think you missed something. If it’s not grasping at straws, it’s filling screen time with unnerving violence and unsettling gore. The blood has no purpose; therefore its meaning feels gratuitous.
I give this movie style points for its cinematography, acting, and the inevitable fact that it had a deeper meaning. The problem is that it takes way too much digging for something so inherently bad. REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGON feels way too much like a Martin Scorsese wannabe more than an actual piece that was carefully overlooked by his wise eyes.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) Considering how poorly lit this world is that they inhabit, this blu-ray provides a clear look at everything that is happening.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) From English to Mandarin and explosions to conversation, the mixing on the sound for this movie is nearly flawless.
Audio Commentary with Director Andrew Lau and Writer/Director Andrew Loo: Someone needs to fix the audio on this. Both of these guys talk at the sound level of a mouse, and with the backdrop being an action movie, it’s difficult to discern what they are something talking about. They mainly talk about how they shot the movie more than the writing process.
The Not So American Dream: The Cast (13:37): Features interviews with the cast that provides a behind the scenes look at some of the chemistry that had already been created by the actors.
Stitches in Time: Costume Design (6:14): I’m not a fashion expert and I’m far from having a remote interest in it. If you do though, it features an interview with the main designer and her style.
A Claustrophobic World: Production Design (4:47): Talks specifically with the production designer and doesn’t really get insight from anyone else. Figured this would be a bigger feature considering it takes place in the past and has a wide scope.
Deleted Scenes (1:56): For such a short movie, it’s a bit shocking there’s not more in terms of deleted scenes. There’s four scenes altogether and they’re so short, it doesn’t feel like their deleted scenes more than they’re just trimming unnecessary fat.