Revenge of the Green Dragons

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on September 06, 2014

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Dear TIFF,

It’s official. You just screened my first major disappointment of the festival: Revenge of the Green Dragons.

It was pretty hard not to come into this Martin Scorsese-produced Chinese gangster film with high hopes – especially since it’s co-directed by Wai-keung Lau (credited as Andrew Lau), who made the Infernal Affairs films that Scorsese adapted into The Departed.

But it all goes terribly, almost hilariously wrong.

 Set in 1980s New York, the film is full of English-as-a-second-language performances (or characters?), which lends itself to painfully on-the-nose dialogue and over-acting. And those are the forgivable sins. What makes the film slide straight into parody is the misguided attempts to make it feel like an 80s action movie; wailing guitar solo soundtrack, constant pace-killing fades to black, and strobing, slow-motion sequences meant to punctuate melodramatic deaths. Even the bang-bang intro feels like it comes from an 80s TV show.

So you’d think that’s the point, right? Except the film takes itself deadly serious. All the visuals are desperately trying to live in the shaky-cam, off-kilter camera angle universe of the present, and end up making the whole movie laughable when I was primed to love it.



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