“The Revenge of the Green Dragons” released by A24 Films and out today is a vibrant film.
The film was directed by Andrew Lau and Andrew Loo and has an executive producer list including Art Spigel, Martin Scorsse, Alan Pao and Corey Large. The screenplay was done by Michael Di Jiacomo and Andrew Loo. The film is vibrant, but not like a Pixar film or Disney classic is vibrant. No, this is vibrant in the gritty details and unadorned, unapproachable take on violence. The language moves from lively, powerful Chinese to teeth-gritting English, with a range of expletives and curses that appeal to both cultures. The story recounts a New York City Asian-American street gang and it’s internal (and rarely, external) issues, dealing with drugs, trust-issues, violence and timid (and short) romance.
The violence is highly detailed, slow, painful and gruesome. Those scenes move sluggishly off the screen, almost having the viewer dwell on the sick reality. The romantic scenes are short and simple interactions, the focus is on the greater gang, which is in effect the reality for any given gang member- support the team or die, literally. The uninhibited tendencies of the gang to do their worst- usually resorting to a highly visual death is hard to get used to even late into the film, and the use of the children experiencing the violence makes sense (a hardening, briefly) but seems overstepping in its unforgiving detail. Sounds are hyper-detailed as well.
The whole thing is powerful and crude. And for what? Well, a representation of a true crime story, actually (and perhaps unfortunately). Characters depicted still exist and are (at the time) have whereabouts unknown. On a much lighter note, after politics and brutal dealings, the story of the American dream rises to the top. One in which one either stays where they are (in this case, China), work hard and never get ahead, or come to America, work just as hard, and have a shot at getting something better. It’s a comforting thought that could have been accented more tastefully. The film stars Ray Liotta, Justin Chon, Shuya Change, Harry Shum, Jr. Kevin Wu and Billy Magnussen.