The only thing novel about the generic Hong Kong gangster film
"Revenge of the Green Dragons" is its subject: Chinese immigrants
struggling to maintain their agency and identities in New York City in
the mid-to-late '80s. Everything else about the film is lifted from
other true crime stories, especially Martin Scorsese's seminal dramas.
This is partly intentional, as we see in bookend images that position
the film as a pseudo-universal, one-immigrant-story-fits-all story: angry waves lap at a boat filled with illegal immigrants. But the boat's human cargo is tellingly offscreen, ostensibly in order to lend these scenes a mythic quality. But by widening the scope of their based-on-a-true story, the makers of "Revenge of the Green Dragon" make their subjects look like the products of unimaginative cultural assimilation.