Janeczka Casillas

Written by Janeczka Casillas

Modified & Updated: 02 Jun 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith

Source: Empireonline.com

Are you a movie enthusiast who loves delving into the fascinating world of films? If so, then you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the iconic movie “Year of the Dragon.” Directed by Michael Cimino and released in 1985, this crime-thriller film has left an indelible mark on both audiences and critics alike. Set in New York City’s Chinatown, “Year of the Dragon” showcases an intense and gritty portrayal of the battles between the police force and organized crime syndicates. With its compelling storyline, stellar performances, and thought-provoking themes, “Year of the Dragon” is a cinematic masterpiece that deserves recognition. So, join us as we uncover 33 fascinating facts about this unforgettable movie, its production, and its impact on the film industry. Get ready for an exciting journey into the captivating world of “Year of the Dragon!

Key Takeaways:

  • Year of the Dragon” is a cult classic crime-drama movie that sparked discussions about racism, cultural clashes, and police corruption, leaving a lasting impact on the crime-drama genre.
  • The film’s portrayal of Asian characters and culture, along with its exploration of racial tensions, sparked debates and increased cultural understanding of the Asian-American experience.
Table of Contents

Cult Classic

The movie “Year of the Dragon” is considered a cult classic in the crime-drama genre.


The film was directed by Michael Cimino, who is known for his work on “The Deer Hunter” and “Heaven’s Gate.

Release Date

Year of the Dragon” was released on August 16, 1985, in the United States.


The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Robert Daley.

Starring Role

Mickey Rourke stars as Stanley White, an NYPD captain determined to take down the Chinese Triads in New York City’s Chinatown.


The movie explores themes of racism, cultural clashes, and the corruption within the police force.

Asian Representation

Year of the Dragon” received both praise and criticism for its portrayal of Asian characters and culture.

Box Office Success

The film grossed over $18 million at the box office, surpassing its production budget.


Year of the Dragon” was nominated for several awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Ariane Koizumi at the Golden Globe Awards.


The movie was praised for its attention to detail and authenticity in depicting the Chinatown neighborhood.


The film was criticized for perpetuating stereotypes and for its excessive violence.

Critical Reception

The movie received mixed reviews from critics, with some praising its performances and gritty atmosphere, while others criticized its portrayal of Asian characters.

Racial Tensions

The movie delves into the racial tensions between different ethnic groups in New York City during the 1980s.


The cinematography by Alex Thomson received praise for its stylish visuals and capturing the essence of Chinatown.


The film’s score was composed by David Mansfield, adding to the intensity and mood of the story.


The movie’s realistic portrayal of the criminal underworld and police corruption resonated with audiences.

Cultural Impact

Year of the Dragon” influenced subsequent films exploring similar themes of crime and racial tension.

Sensitive Portrayal

The movie sparked a debate about the responsibility of filmmakers when representing ethnic communities onscreen.

Iconic Quotes

“Year of the Dragon” features memorable quotes such as “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again.”


The film faced backlash from various advocacy groups for its depiction of Asian characters.

Influential Performances

Mickey Rourke’s portrayal of Stanley White is often cited as one of his most memorable roles.

Historical Context

The movie’s release coincided with a period of heightened awareness of organized crime in New York City.

Production Design

The movie’s production design brought Chinatown to life, with meticulous attention to detail.

Cultural Clashes

The movie explores the clashes between traditional Chinese culture and the American way of life.

Impact on Asian-American Cinema

Year of the Dragon” opened doors for more representation and opportunities for Asian-American actors in Hollywood.

Portrayal of Female Characters

The film received criticism for its portrayal of women, often reducing them to stereotypical roles.

Authentic Dialogue

The movie’s script includes authentic dialogue, capturing the language and slang used in the Chinese-American community.

Real-Life Inspirations

The story draws inspiration from real-life events and individuals involved in criminal activities in Chinatown.

Behind-the-Scenes Controversy

The production faced behind-the-scenes controversy, including disagreements between the director and the studio.


Year of the Dragon” has left a lasting impact on the crime-drama genre and continues to be discussed and analyzed by film enthusiasts.

International Recognition

The movie gained international recognition despite the controversies surrounding its release.

Exploring Depth

Underneath the surface-level crime story, “Year of the Dragon” delves into complex themes of identity, loyalty, and power.

Cultural Understanding

The film sparked discussions and increased cultural understanding of the Asian-American experience.


In conclusion, “Year of the Dragon” is a gripping and intense movie that delves into the dark underworld of crime and corruption. With its realistic portrayal of the Chinatown gang wars and exceptional performances by Mickey Rourke and John Lone, this film showcases the talent and craftsmanship of its director, Michael Cimino. The movie’s compelling storyline, gritty cinematography, and powerful themes of power, loyalty, and identity make it a must-watch for fans of crime dramas.Whether you are a fan of action-packed thrillers or simply appreciate a well-crafted film, “Year of the Dragon” is sure to captivate and engage you from start to finish. Its gritty portrayal of the crime-ridden Chinatown and its complex characters will leave a lasting impact on viewers.If you haven’t watched “Year of the Dragon” yet, do yourself a favor and add it to your watchlist. You won’t be disappointed by the powerful performances, gripping storyline, and thought-provoking themes that make this movie a classic in the crime genre.


1. When was “Year of the Dragon” released?

“Year of the Dragon” was released on August 16, 1985.

2. Who directed the movie?

The movie was directed by Michael Cimino.

3. What is the genre of “Year of the Dragon”?

Year of the Dragon” is a crime drama film.

4. Who are the main actors in the movie?

Mickey Rourke and John Lone are the main actors in “Year of the Dragon.”

5. Is “Year of the Dragon” based on a true story?

No, “Year of the Dragon” is a fictional story.

6. How long is the movie?

The runtime of “Year of the Dragon” is approximately 2 hours and 14 minutes.

7. What is the rating of the movie?

The movie has an R-rating.

8. What is the significance of the title “Year of the Dragon”?

The title refers to the Chinese zodiac sign and symbolizes power and dominance.

9. Is the movie available for streaming?

You can check popular streaming platforms to see if “Year of the Dragon” is available for streaming.

10. Does the movie have any notable awards or nominations?

Yes, “Year of the Dragon” received several award nominations, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

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