Revenge Of The Green Dragons (15) | Home Ents Review

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Dir. Andrew Lau and Andrew Loo, Hong Kong/US, 2014, 95 mins

Cast: Ray Liotta, Justin Chon, Shuya Chang, Harry Shum Jr, Kevin Wu and Billy Magnussen

Following two best friends, Sonny (Justin Chon) and Steven (Kevin Wu), as they grow up within the Chinese underworld of 1980s Queens, NY, this crime thriller has all the markings of executive producer Martin Scorsese and at times packs the same punch. From the director of the Infernal Affairs trilogy, which would later become adapted by Scorsese as The Departed, similarities are common here with the interlinking storyline of the gang warfare with the police working to find the right leads to stop it. This time the main detective is FBI agent Detective Bloom played by Ray Liotta of Goodfellas fame. He’s the main attraction on the posters and marketing material because of his name draw, but it’s really the story of the two best friends that shines here.

Beginning from the age of 10, the two boys are taken into the gang culture by one of the six gangs in Queens, that being the Green Dragons, one of the most violent gangs. Predominately being much younger than the other gangs, they have a point to prove. And prove it they do, with their aggressive actions, power plays and their general destruction of anyone and anything in their way. The culture they surround themselves with is frightening and to see the random encounters they go through to get to a certain level is telling of how true these events were, as we’re told at the beginning of the film. The two leading actors are great in their roles, showing their evolution through the landscape they’ve been planted into, especially during testing times from their rash actions. Sonny’s relationship with Tina (Shuya Chang) is also great at levelling out the full-on violence with a more human emotion of connection between the two and Sonny’s constant struggle with the rights and wrongs of his actions.

The pacing is fantastic and it’s difficult to know where the story will go next especially with how easily scenes can descend very quickly into grave areas. Liotta’s constant chase of this underworld from investigating the smuggling of immigrants to the gang war itself peppers the film with a chase element of who will “win” – Liotta’s arrest and capture of the leaders of this world or the gang’s mass killing of both its members and its rivals. And this accelerates with the killing of a “white”, meaning a killing of a white person, which very early on is a rule set by the Green Dragons as something you don’t do. The use of the narrative voice also adds an element of storytelling that keeps the loose ends together, ensuring that the ending is very much what we expect and more.

Extras:

The extra features on this DVD release are a great insight into the film with an audio commentary by Andrew Loo and Andrew Lau, the directors, along with a short 15-minute documentary with various interviews with the cast members about the experience on working on the film, which only lacks what would have been a possibly great interview with Ray Liotta. There is also two short documentaries focusing on production design, on how capturing the 1980’s New York vibe with the clashing Chinese culture was difficult to do but turned out wonderful. This is coupled with a featurette on costume design, which shows us the details in each outfit chosen for the Green Dragons, especially their signature jacket. Deleted scenes also appear, only lasting less than two minutes altogether.

Review by Simon Childs

Revenge of the Green Dragons is released on DVD and VOD from 29th June.

Author: cfwebmaster

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