Revenge of the Green Dragons (Blu-ray Review)

Revenge of the Green DragonsFrom executive producer Martin Scorsese and the director of Infernal Affairs comes a gritty crime thriller set in 1980’s New York City, based on real events. Two immigrant brothers (Justin Chon and Kevin Wu) join the Green Dragons gang. They quickly rise up the ranks and become notorious in the community, drawing the attention of the NYPD’s Detective Bloom (Ray Liotta). But when an ill-fated love affair pits one of the brothers against the gang’s leader (Harry Shum Jr.), he sets out for revenge on the group.  

Revenge of the Green Dragons


Let’s start of with a misconception here. Don’t let the horrid cover art trick you into thinking Ray Liotta is in this for more than 5-minutes. The film project was probably sold off as “also starting Ray Liotta from “Goodfellas” fame. What was obviously sold, as it reads on the front cover, is that Martin Scorsese was executive producer on the film and nothing more. Oh, maybe that Andrew Lau also directed Infernal Affairs, which was remade by Scorsese years later. Okay, now that we’re caught up with the politics, let’s get to the film.

Revenge of the Green Dragons is based on true accounts that took place in New York City during the early 1980’s. Two immigrant brothers end up joining the Green Dragons, because it’s their only escape from guaranteed poverty and indentured servitude if they don’t. If you’re in a powerful gang then you’re respected and not treated as if you just got off the boat, so to speak. As Sonny (Justin Chon) and his brother Steven (Kevin Woo) carry on as low level thugs in the gang their bond is broken by an illicit love affair by one of the brothers that threatens the gang.

Outside of the gang and on the other side of the spectrum we get Ray Liotta’s character of Michael Bloom, an FBI agent, who may or may not be a paranoid racist. He goes on and on to his superiors about the influx of illegal Chinese immigrants into the city, which will increase crime and turn the city into a bigger hellhole than it already is. All of this is spread out through the film by his character, with about 5-minutes of screen time. Go cash the check, Ray.

The film could have been great if it wasn’t so rushed and unpolished. The opening montage and use of the stock footage from our past U.S. Presidents talking about these topics in those days add weight to what we’re seeing onscreen and bring up valid points. The problem is that the main storyline along with some of the characters presented are complete bores. Revenge of the Green Dragons was made for about 5 million dollars but rushed through at a very quick pace. It opened at the TIFF festival but went dark soon after. Yes, it has now arrived on Blu-ray and DVD. Unfortunately, the film will be a minor blip in the uninteresting gangster genre. I reviewed By the Gun on this site and would say that that film is much better than Revenge of the Green Dragons in terms of begging a somewhat serviceable gangster pic. Revenge of the Green Dragons just needed a bit more polish and better actors.


Revenge of the Green Dragons


Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio:  2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: Revenge of the Green Dragons has a fairly decent video transfer that sees a nice layer of grain. Contrast may have been tweaked here and there but the overall image does not suffer for it.

Depth: There’s definitely a visual pop to the film – I can see that they kept the dated 80’s aesthetic going in some of the more pivotal scenes before segueing to the more realistic contemporary scenes. By contemporary I mean scenes that take place in the day or in very well lit areas.

Black Levels: The film already has a ton of grime, so black levels tend to stand out amidst the low-lit scenes. Crush was noticeably absent, as well, and that’s a very good thing.

Color Reproduction: In keeping the film quite dark the color palette has been muted during scenes of ultra violence and such. It kicks back up during neon-lit interiors/exteriors and those scenes of garishness.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones appeared nice and flush and full of life unless the character was getting killed.

Noise/Artifacts: This may be inherent to the source but there are a couple of spots that accompanied the grain levels – I figured it was to add some stylishness to the film – give it a more gritty feel, etc.

Revenge of the Green Dragons



Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Revenge of the Dragons has a very aggressive soundtrack in parts while staying hushed up in others. The contrast in tone is startling but this is a good thing, because it adds for a more realistic stage.

Low Frequency Extension: The low-end bass levels get added boosts more often than during the many instances of gang warfare. No complaints were had here.

Surround Sound Presentation: The rear channels carry the ricochet of the bullets and cars swerving throughout the 360-degree sound field.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels were reproduced clearly and coherently. You will see people speaking Cantonese and Mandarin, etc., and those scenes are presented in yellow English subtitles burnt into the film – they’re not in the menu options.

Revenge of the Green Dragons


I was surprised to see that the Blu-ray for Revenge of the Green Dragons had somewhat plentiful extras. We have an audio commentary with the directors, deleted scenes, interviews, and featurettes.

  • Audio Commentary with Director Andrew Lau and Co-Writer/Director Andrew Loo – This is a pretty standard commentary by Lau and Loo – they talk about budgetary concerns and working with the actors, filming locations, etc.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD) – Deleted scenes that were removed for very good reasons.
  • “The Not So American Dream: The Cast” Featurette (HD) – This interview(s) with the leads of the film is actually quite hilarious as everyone speaks freely and without filters.
  • “Stitches in Time: Costume Design” Featurette (HD) – The costume designer of the film talks about what she had to do to make everyone look like they were causing panic in the early-mid 80’s.
  • “A Claustrophobic World: Production Design” Featurette (HD) – Here’s a featurette that focuses on the production design and what had to be done in order to make present day New York City look like New York City of the 80’s.


Revenge of the Green Dragons


Revenge of the Green Dragons had a promising premise but is ultimately stilted in its delivery, with lackluster characterization and a couple of mediocre performances. I’m still not sure what Ray Liotta is doing here. The technical specifications on this Blu-ray are above average and the social features are okay for what they are. If you can get past the awful cover art then the movie might somewhat watchable. Maybe. If you’re really, REALLY bored.



Order Revenge of the Green Dragons  on Blu-ray!

Revenge of the Green Dragons -


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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