Year of the Dragon (1985)

R | 134 mins | Drama | 16 August 1985

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HISTORY

According to the 3 Jan 1983 HR, producer Dino De Laurentiis acquired film rights to Robert Daley’s 1981 novel, Year of the Dragon. Mark Lester was named as director, and Robert Daley was announced to adapt his novel into a screenplay. However, the 23 Apr 1984 DV reported that Oliver Stone would be co-scripting with Michael Cimino, who was hired to replace Mark Lester.
       The 21 Mar 1984 Var reported filming would begin the following month, while the 23 Apr 1984 DV reported a tentative start for Summer 1984. The 5 Sep 1984 Var noted the $12 million picture would begin shooting in Oct 1984 in Vancouver, Canada’s Chinatown. According to the 14 Sep 1984 DV production chart, principal photography was set to start on 14 Oct 1984. However, production finally began on 27 Oct 1984, as reported in the 31 Oct 1984 Var, which listed locations in NY, NC, Vancouver, and Thailand. The 13 Nov 1984 DV noted that the majority of production would occur in Wilmington, NC, at the Dino De Laurentiis-owned North Carolina Film Corp. Studios.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files report principal photography began in Victoria, British Columbia, and listed sites used as the Parliament building and the Empress Hotel. Filming moved to nearby Vancouver for two weeks, before cast and crew relocated to NY. By late Nov 1984, production settled in for six weeks of shooting at Dino De Laurentiis’ studios in Wilmington, NC, where an elaborate Chinatown set was recreated. In mid-Jan 1985, a small ... More Less

According to the 3 Jan 1983 HR, producer Dino De Laurentiis acquired film rights to Robert Daley’s 1981 novel, Year of the Dragon. Mark Lester was named as director, and Robert Daley was announced to adapt his novel into a screenplay. However, the 23 Apr 1984 DV reported that Oliver Stone would be co-scripting with Michael Cimino, who was hired to replace Mark Lester.
       The 21 Mar 1984 Var reported filming would begin the following month, while the 23 Apr 1984 DV reported a tentative start for Summer 1984. The 5 Sep 1984 Var noted the $12 million picture would begin shooting in Oct 1984 in Vancouver, Canada’s Chinatown. According to the 14 Sep 1984 DV production chart, principal photography was set to start on 14 Oct 1984. However, production finally began on 27 Oct 1984, as reported in the 31 Oct 1984 Var, which listed locations in NY, NC, Vancouver, and Thailand. The 13 Nov 1984 DV noted that the majority of production would occur in Wilmington, NC, at the Dino De Laurentiis-owned North Carolina Film Corp. Studios.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files report principal photography began in Victoria, British Columbia, and listed sites used as the Parliament building and the Empress Hotel. Filming moved to nearby Vancouver for two weeks, before cast and crew relocated to NY. By late Nov 1984, production settled in for six weeks of shooting at Dino De Laurentiis’ studios in Wilmington, NC, where an elaborate Chinatown set was recreated. In mid-Jan 1985, a small crew departed for Bangkok, Thailand, to film the “Golden Triangle” sequences.
       The 18 Nov 1984 LAT announced that “Hurricane Diana,” which struck the Carolina coast in early Sep 1984, destroyed a Chinatown set and delayed production for two months. LAT reported filmmakers had difficulties finding the 1,500 Asian background actors needed for the Wilmington location shoot, because of the state’s low Chinese population.
       According to the 20 Dec 1984 HR, a lawsuit was filed by Oliver Stone against Dino De Laurentiis, who claimed that De Laurentiis had failed to honor a previous commitment to finance Stone’s film Platoon (1986, see entry). Stone was demanding an injunction to prevent Year of the Dragon’s release, in addition to $10 million in damages.
       The 2 Jun 1985 Daily News, which noted a 16 Aug 1985 release date,
reported Michael Cimino had completed the $20-million picture under budget, and one week ahead of schedule.
       The 13 Aug 1985 DV announced that Asian-American organizations in the U.S. had deemed the picture “anti-Asian,” and planned to boycott the film’s opening in several cities. In response, MGM/UA Studios insisted their claims were invalid, and encouraged the Asian-American community to view the picture before casting judgment, according to the 14 Aug 1985 DV. Asian-American protesters united to form the “Coalition Against Year of the Dragon,” and picketed in front of the Loews Astor Plaza theater in NY on 16 Aug 1985, distributing flyers that included a statement of support from Robert Daley, author of the novel, as reported in the 19 Aug 1985 HR. Additional protests were planned for following weeks in multiple cities.
       The 24 Aug 1985 Screen International announced box-office receipts totaling $4,093,079 after its first three days of release in 982 theaters, and the 30 Aug 1985 Daily News reported earnings of $10 million after three weeks.
       After “weeks of outrage” by protestors, MGM/UA decided to issue a disclaimer to be shown before the film. The disclaimer, which also appeared at the beginning of the home video release viewed for this entry, stated: “This film does not intend to demean or to ignore the many positive features of Asian-Americans and specifically Chinese-American communities. Any similarity between the depiction in this film and any association, organization, individual or Chinatown that exists in real life is accidental.” The disclaimers were initially sent out with 150 prints of the film, and MGM/UA considered the need for more, according to the 4 Sep 1985 DV. The 7 Sep 1985 Screen International noted this was the first time that a major studio gave in to objections from an ethnic group, or issued an onscreen disclaimer of any kind.
       The 3 Sep 1985 DV announced a lawsuit had been filed against filmmakers by the Federation of Chinese Organizations of America. Citing defamation, and seeking $100 million in damages, the lawsuit also requested a court order to prevent the picture from continuing to be shown.
       Filmmakers also met opposition from the L.A. County Commission for Women, who wrote letters citing “outrage” over the negative depiction of women in the film, in particular noting the downplaying of multiple rapes suffered by the female lead, according to the 10 Sep 1985 DV.
       The 26 Nov 1985 HR announced that Year of the Dragon was banned in Taiwan, but received a warm reception in Hong Kong, noting that Hong Kong’s Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority “found nothing racist” in the picture.
       End credits include the following acknowledgements: “Filmed at the North Carolina Film Corporation Studios, Wilmington, North Carolina; The Producers wish to thank: the Government of Thailand and the Royal Thai Army.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily News
2 Jun 1985
p. 3.
Daily News
30 Aug 1985.
---
Daily Variety
23 Apr 1984.
---
Daily Variety
14 Sep 1984.
---
Daily Variety
13 Nov 1984.
---
Daily Variety
13 Aug 1985
p. 1.
Daily Variety
14 Aug 1985
p. 1, 9.
Daily Variety
3 Sep 1985.
---
Daily Variety
4 Sep 1985.
---
Daily Variety
10 Sep 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jan 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 1984
p. 1, 28.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 1985
p. 3, 11.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 1985.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Nov 1984.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Aug 1985
p. 1, 16.
New York Times
16 Aug 1985
p. 10.
Screen International
24 Aug 1985
pp. 1-2.
Screen International
7 Sep 1985.
---
Variety
21 Mar 1984.
---
Variety
5 Sep 1984.
---
Variety
31 Oct 1984.
---
Variety
14 Aug 1985
p. 16.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Introducing
as Tracy Tzu
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Dino De Laurentiis presents
A Michael Cimino Production
Distributed by MGM/UA Entertainment Co.
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir - North America
2d asst dir - North America
Asst unit prod mgr - North America
Unit prod mgr - Vancouver
Asst unit prod mgr - Vancouver
Unit prod mgr - Thailand
Unit prod mgr - Thailand
2d asst dir - Thailand
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog and op by
2d unit dir of photog
Chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
of Grip House Ltd.
Focus asst
Clapper/Loader
Cam asst
Still photog
Elec best boy
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Grip best boy
of Grip House, Ltd.
Set grip
Cams and anamorphic lenses by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Graphic des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Consulting asst ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
SET DECORATORS
Tracy's loft des by
Master scenic artist
Const coord - North America
Const rigger
Master carpenter
Master plasterer
Set dec
Set dec
Set dec
Sculptor
Sculptor
Paint foreman
Prop master
COSTUMES
Assoc cost des
Key costumer
Cost supv Thailand
Cost supv North America
Ward for Mickey Rourke and John Lone custom made b
Ward for Ariane by
for Zanella
Ward for Ariane by
Ward for Ariane by
Ward for Ariane by
Ward for Ariane by
Ward for Ariane by
Ward for Ariane by
Ward for Ariane by
Ward for Ariane by
Ward for Ariane by
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus arr and orch by
Mus rec and supv by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd boom
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff cood
Spec eff foreman
Title des
MAKEUP
Makeup des by
Makeup artist
Hair styles des by
Spec eff makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Exec in charge of prod
Transportation coord/ Boss Wrangler
Casting assoc/ Dial coach
Scr supv
Supv prod coord
Loc asst/Researcher
Key set prod asst
Post prod accountant
Tech police consultant
Tech police consultant
Unit pub
Loc auditor North America
Prod coord North America
Extras casting North America
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Year of the Dragon by Robert Daley (New York, 1981).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
“Resurrection Symphony #2 (Fifth Movement) by Bernard Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc
SONGS
“Dream Dance,” composed by Lucia Hwong, performed and arranged by Yukio Tsuji and Lucia Hwong, recording engineering by Gene Ricardi
“Resurrection Symphony #2 (Fifth Movement) by Bernard Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc
“Uphill Peace Of Mind,” by Frederick Knight, Irving Music, Inc., Two-Knight Music performed by C.O.D., courtesy of Emergency Records, Inc
+
SONGS
“Dream Dance,” composed by Lucia Hwong, performed and arranged by Yukio Tsuji and Lucia Hwong, recording engineering by Gene Ricardi
“Resurrection Symphony #2 (Fifth Movement) by Bernard Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc
“Uphill Peace Of Mind,” by Frederick Knight, Irving Music, Inc., Two-Knight Music performed by C.O.D., courtesy of Emergency Records, Inc
“Infatuation,” written by Rod Stewart, Duane Hitchings, Roland Robinson, performed by David Mansfield.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
16 August 1985
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 16 August 1985
Production Date:
27 October 1984--mid January 1985
Copyright Claimant:
Dino DeLaurentiis Corporation
Copyright Date:
19 September 1985
Copyright Number:
PA263766
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Prints
Prints in Metrocolor®
Duration(in mins):
134
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Canada, Thailand, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During a festival in New York City’s Chinatown, a young boy stabs Jackie Wong, an esteemed member of the Chinese community. Television news reporter Tracy Tzu questions Wong’s involvement with a secret Chinese crime ring, “Triad.” Later, a thug named Ronnie Chang murders a local shopkeeper named Lenny who refused to pay his weekly “dues.” Police captain Stanley White, newly assigned to Chinatown, investigates his new beat, and demands the community leaders, including Harry Yung, keep their gangs in check and put a stop to extorting local business owners. Stanley’s colleague, Louis Bukowski, explains the “arrangement” they have with the Chinese elders to look the other way and let them police their own community. Louis orders Stanley to concentrate on the young Chinese gang activity and leave the elders alone. However, Stanley suspects the elders are part of a Chinese organized crime ring known as the Triad, but Louis dismisses his concern. Stanley and his wife, Connie, argue about his demanding work schedule and her desire to have a baby. Sometime later, Stanley has dinner with reporter Tracy Tzu, and asks her to do an exposé on Chinatown and reveal its criminal underside. However, Tracy is offended by his unethical methods. As they dine, masked gunmen enter the restaurant and open fire, indiscriminately murdering patrons. Stanley pursues the attackers outside, but the gang members get away. Elsewhere, the Chinese elders discuss who might be responsible for the attacks. Henry Yung’s nephew, Joey Tai, suggests they open discussions with the Italian and Thai crime organizations to secure their future. Commissioner Brendon S. Sullivan grants Stanley’s request ... +


During a festival in New York City’s Chinatown, a young boy stabs Jackie Wong, an esteemed member of the Chinese community. Television news reporter Tracy Tzu questions Wong’s involvement with a secret Chinese crime ring, “Triad.” Later, a thug named Ronnie Chang murders a local shopkeeper named Lenny who refused to pay his weekly “dues.” Police captain Stanley White, newly assigned to Chinatown, investigates his new beat, and demands the community leaders, including Harry Yung, keep their gangs in check and put a stop to extorting local business owners. Stanley’s colleague, Louis Bukowski, explains the “arrangement” they have with the Chinese elders to look the other way and let them police their own community. Louis orders Stanley to concentrate on the young Chinese gang activity and leave the elders alone. However, Stanley suspects the elders are part of a Chinese organized crime ring known as the Triad, but Louis dismisses his concern. Stanley and his wife, Connie, argue about his demanding work schedule and her desire to have a baby. Sometime later, Stanley has dinner with reporter Tracy Tzu, and asks her to do an exposé on Chinatown and reveal its criminal underside. However, Tracy is offended by his unethical methods. As they dine, masked gunmen enter the restaurant and open fire, indiscriminately murdering patrons. Stanley pursues the attackers outside, but the gang members get away. Elsewhere, the Chinese elders discuss who might be responsible for the attacks. Henry Yung’s nephew, Joey Tai, suggests they open discussions with the Italian and Thai crime organizations to secure their future. Commissioner Brendon S. Sullivan grants Stanley’s request to recruit a young Chinese officer named Herbert Kwong to pose undercover and help him with his Chinatown investigation. Meanwhile, Joey Tai visits two gunmen who were injured during the restaurant attack, and oversees their medical treatment. However, as Tai leaves, he instructs the other gang members to handle the situation, and the injured youths are murdered. In time, Stanley White meets Joey Tai, who suggests they work together and offers Stanley a bribe. Stanley accuses Tai of dealing heroin and refuses to be “bought.” When Stanley returns home late for dinner, his wife, Connie, has thrown his belongings on their lawn. Stanley makes another appeal to Tracy Tzu, and she invites him to her home for a drink. Stanley insults her profession then tries to remove her clothes, but she tells him she has a boyfriend and asks him to leave. Stanley continues to insult her, and their passion leads to sex. Sometime later, police raid several gambling rings in Chinatown, and declare war on Joey Tai. Tracy reports the story on camera. Tai meets with the Italian mafia and demands a change in their business dealings. Commissioner Sullivan scolds Stanley for using a wiretap on Joey Tai, explaining that his investigation is upsetting how business has always been done with the Chinese. Louis Bukowski insists that the Chinese mafia idea is all in Stanley’s head, and that no evidence has been found to connect Tai to gang activity. In time, Stanley White returns to Tracy’s apartment, and she expresses her love for him. When he returns to his wife, he apologizes for his infidelity and asks her for another chance. However, Connie insists their relationship is over. As they discuss their future, they are attacked by Chinese thugs, and Connie is murdered. Stanley shoots one assailant, and pursues another into the street, blowing up their automobile. Joey Tai goes to Bangkok, Thailand, to meet drug lord Ban Sung and discuss their heroin business. Tai presents the severed head of rival, “White Powder Ma.” Stanley White mourns his wife, and reporters crowd her funeral to cover the story. When Tai returns to the U.S., Tracy accuses him on camera of being linked to the gang members, but Tai denies the allegations. Later, Joey Tai meets with the Chinese elders, who are angry with him for orchestrating the attack on Stanley and his wife and bringing attention to them. They declare Tracy Tzu a threat for making them look bad on television. Using a listening device, Stanley learns that a large drug shipment is on its way to the Chinese. Undercover recruit Herbert Kwong, posing as a worker in Joey Tai’s restaurant, overhears Tai mention the name of the pier where the ship will arrive. However, Tai suspects Herbert is a “mole” and has him killed. With his dying words, Herbert reveals the pier number to Stanley. As revenge for Herbert’s murder, Stanley attacks and beats Joey Tai at a nightclub, but two female gang members arrive to protect Tai, and shoot at Stanley, who chases the women into the street, killing one. Elsewhere, three gang members assault Tracy in her apartment, and demand she stop reporting stories on Joey Tai. Later, Tracy reveals to Stanley that she was raped, and yells at him for refusing to give up his investigation. Stanley is disciplined for beating Joey Tai, and ordered off the case. However, he later goes to the pier and attacks Joey Tai, and a gunfight ensues. Tai is injured, and Stanley forces him to reveal the location of the drugs. Tai pleads with Stanley for his gun, then shoots himself. Tracy covers Tai’s funeral in Chinatown, and Stanley arrives, attempting to arrest the Chinese elders during the procession. He is stopped by his police colleagues, and mobbed by the crowd. Tracy runs to Stanley’s side. After he admits he was wrong to take on the Chinese mafia, she kisses him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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