Revenge of the Green Dragons
It’s very easy to see why Martin Scorsese produced the latest film from Andrew Lau. Not only did Lau create the successful Infernal Affairs franchise that would allow Marty to make The Departed, but this decade spanning and thoroughly brutish crime saga (a collaboration with co-director Andrew Loo) evokes Boxcar Bertha and Mean Streets and Abel Ferrara’s King of New York.
Beginning in the burgeoning little Chinese enclave in Flushing, Queens circa 1983 and ending in Hong Kong in 1992, this “inspired by real events” story concerns a young man named Sonny (Justin Chon, a positive revalation considering his highest profile films before this were the comedic relief in 21 and Over and small roles in Twilight films) who has been brought into the most dangerous Asian gang by his adoptive brother Steven (Kevin Wu). The film follows their rise from scared young men, to cold blooded killers seeking revenge, and eventually to them realizing that gang life isn’t for them. There’s also concerns involving a rookie cop (Jin Auyeung), a equal opportunity racist FBI agent (Ray Liotta), and the potential the titular gang’s leader (a delightfully cold blooded Harry Shum Jr.) who might be a protected snitch.
It’s classic Scorsese-esque material but delivered with a bleakness that echoes the decidedly less sunnier and more exploitative world view of Ferrara. It’s nasty and unflinching in its depiction of violence, and certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s not handled in a glorifying manner. It’s purposefully brutal and not for the squeamish, but it’s nothing if not effective thanks to the filmmakers never shortchanging its look back on Reagan/Bush era immigration policies.
Wednesday, September 10th, 9:00pm, Ryerson Theatre
Thursday, September 11th, 12:15pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Saturday, September 13th, 10:00pm, Scotiabank 1