Using unprecedented degrees of violence, young Joey Tai becomes the head of Chinese mafia in New York and undisputed leader of the Chinese community. Stanley White, the most decorated cop in New York, who hates Asian people since his service in Vietnam, is put in charge of Chinatown.
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The bold decisions feel applied with a paintbrush. Thus adorned, Stanley clashes against crime in reverse, wherein he and everyone he interacts with are thrust into tragedy, this a consequence of behavior and universal truths rather than whims of frivolity. Smartly directed, beautifully masked.
YotD captures the menace of tenuous, violent lives caught in the maelstrom of urban, immigrant life, much like "Heaven's Gate". One feels that Oliver Stone's co-writing credit explains much of why this works in ways that the subsequent films (and, much as I love it, parts of "Heaven's Gate") do not. But YotD is part of a laudable tradition with "Heaven's Gate" that both criticises and praises the American experience.
The Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate both have their moments, but I have to say that this is probably my favorite Cimino, and IMO, his most underrated. It has another outstanding Mickey Rourke neo-noir performance and some great action sequences. And I love those blue-tinted shots of New York from Tracy's apartment.
Another really solid film from Michael Cimino that once again proves he was a misunderstood genius and also serves to showcase the great Mickey Rourke's incredible versatility as an actor- it might be one of his best performances.