Sunday, October 5, 2014

Revenge of the Green Dragons

Released on VOD September 11th, 2014, in theaters October 24th 2014
1 hr 34 mins
Rated R
Action/Adventure, Drama


Directors: Andrew Lau, Andrew Loo


Ray Liotta as Michael Bloom
Justin Chon as Sonny
Shuya Chang as Tina Sham
Harry Shum, Jr. as Paul Wong
Kevin Wu as Steven
Leonard Wu as Chen I Chung
Eugenia Yuan as Snakehead Mama
Jin Auyeung as Detective Tang
Carl Ka-Ho Li as Chicken Wing
Celia Au as Bobo
Michael Gregory Fung as Young Steven
Alex Fox as Young Sonny
Geoff Pierson as Captain Higgins
Linda Wang as Mrs. Wan

Review by Stephen M.

Revenge of the Green Dragons lacks the romanticism of the gangsters that Young and Dangerous possessed and the creative intelligence of Infernal Affairs both of which are movie series that Director Andrew Lau are known for.  Instead, Revenge of the Green Dragons portrays the gang as ruthless thugs in this fairly incoherent mesh of twisted facts of the actual story that the movie is based on.

Justin Chon plays the lead as Sonny, a youth caught up in the world of gangs when his childhood friend Steven (Kevin Wu) joins the gang to avoid getting beat up.  The two as youths are played by Alex Fox and Michael Gregory Fung respectively.  While I enjoyed the performances of Alex, Michael and Justin, I was far less impressed with Kevin.  In addition, Harry Shum Jr. playing conniving Green Dragons' founder Paul Wong doesn't carry the stature that you would expect from someone with such power and wealth.

What I dislike most about the film is the choppiness of the story. The editing is horrible in telling a cohesive story as it floats everywhere.  For example, in the beginning, there is little explanation given as to why Steven joins the gang but rather implied.  As well, how Tina (Shuya Chang) who was suppose to have been placed in protective custody is out and about at the end.  In addition, if you are familiar with the actual stories, what liberties they have taken to construct the romance story between Sonny and Tina as well as Sonny's twist in the end. With the latter it felt like it was trying too hard to capture the magic that was in Andrew Lau's Infernal Affair and copied by Martin Scorsese's The Departed.

Overall, I would recommend waiting for this one on Netflix. It is available on On Demand currently, but it is just not worth paying extra money.  There are a lot of rich wild wild west type of stories of Chinese American gangs that would make for great Hollywood type movies. Unfortunately, Andrew Lau and the rest of the filmmakers on this film has dropped the ball with the Green Dragons.  Long and convoluted, supbar acting simply spoils what could have been a good film in a genre that both Andrew Lau and Martin Scorsese are known for.


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