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Revenge of the Green Dragons – A Kung-Fu Comeback for Martin Scorsese

| 3 February 2015 | Reply

Revenge of the Green Dragons – A Kung-Fu Comeback for Martin Scorsese
By Beth Kotz

With the release of his latest epic film, Revenge Of The Green Dragons, BETH KOTZ takes a look at some of Martin Scorseses lesser-known works.

Revenge Of The Green Dragons poster

As one of Hollywood’s most revered and awarded directors, Martin Scorsese has frequently used his brilliant style and heartbreakingly detailed cinematography to paint a brutal and beautiful portrait of New York City and the lives of its diverse citizens. Today, his cinematic love affair with the city has sparked his involvement as executive producer with the intense Kung-Fu drama, Revenge of the Green Dragons (2014). The film first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, after which DirecTV immediately followed with an exclusive 30 day streaming option, as per their agreement with production company A24 (Revenge of the Green Dragons was the third film to be released in the partnership). Although Scorsese has never made a Kung-Fu film before in his career, he did help pioneer the genre of hard boiled crime drama and also played a large part in developing the cinematic personality of New York City, making this film a perfect fit.

Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese has directed and produced over 50 films during his career and is well known for the many gritty, dramatic, striking and artistic examples that have earned him a reputation as a master at the top of his craft. Although he is possibly best known for his tales of modern crime and New York disillusionment, he has crafted films on a huge number of subjects, in an array of different styles that showcases his versatility and fearlessness as a director. Although many of his films are lauded, he has created several lesser known gems that enjoy recognition among genre fans, cinema lovers and Scorsese aficionados:

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Last Temptation Of Christ poster

Based on the controversial novel written by Nikos Kazantzakis, this equally controversial film explores the darker and more human side of one of the world’s most revered religious central figures. Despite the film’s disclaimer that it is based on a fictional and non-Biblical version of Christ, it inspired outrage in some Christian viewers and even sparked a violent attack on a theater where it was shown shortly after its release. The titular last temptation occurs when, during the crucifixion, Christ is visited by a being that claims to be an angel, who takes him off the cross and delivers him to Mary Magdalene, whom he lives a happy life with. At the end of his life the elderly Jesus is horrified to learn that he has been tricked by Satan, returns to the moment of his crucifixion, and resists the temptation of escaping death, thereby fulfilling his role as savior.

After Hours (1985)

After Hours poster

Like many of Scorsese’s other films, After Hours stars Manhattan itself as a silent but viscerally present character in this darkly comic satire of city life. A normal night in the life a lonely average Joe takes a dark turn during the strangest and possibly most Kafkaesque first date in the history of cinema. This film was created during the frustrating years that The Last Temptation of Christ spent trapped in development hell, and represents a slice of Scorsese’s pathos and twisted sense of humor. Despite its roots in that frustration, this in-between film still bears the film maker’s signature tight camera work and attention to minute detail, which help to create the slow, uncomfortable yet darkly comedic turn of the screw as the main character gets deeper into the longest night of his life. New York viewers will recognize this nightmarish view of the city as a cartoonishly dark but accurate representation of life in the Big Apple.

Bringing out the Dead (1999)

Bringing Out The Dead poster

This dark drama follows three days in the life of a Hell’s Kitchen paramedic and the horrors he witnesses as part of his normal daily life. Yet another collaboration with the screenwriter that helped Scorsese create heavy hitting classics like Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980), this film is based on a novel written by a real New York paramedic and explores the extent of misery one man can face in the short span of three nights. Scorsese’s signature visuals, such as steam rising from dark streets as though it is escaping the underworld, help to enforce the main character’s identity as a Hades-like figure, almost a personification of death itself. In addition to being one of Scorsese’s best underrated films, true film lovers also recognize it as one of Nicolas Cage’s best roles since Leaving Las Vegas (1995).

Kundun (1997)

Kundun poster

This thorough, lifetime spanning historical film about the 14th Dalai Lama and Mao Tse-tung’s invasion of Tibet got Martin Scorsese, his screenwriter Melissa Mathison and her then husband Harrison Ford permanently banned from Tibet, along with over 50 other people who were involved with the film. Kundun focuses on the Dalai Lama’s life from his early childhood, through being raised as a spiritual leader, up to his decisions regarding China’s invasion. Together with The Last Temptation of Christ, this film represents a distinct departure from Scorsese’s better known grittier and more violent films, but still focuses on his exploration of the human condition and his artful portrayal of the relatable side of extraordinary figures.

The King of Comedy (1982)

The King Of Comedy poster

This black comedy about a crazed fan who stalks and kidnaps his talk host idol is considered by some to be Scorsese’s most underrated and misunderstood film. Following hard on the heels of the hugely successful Raging Bull, also starring De Niro, this film could not have been a bigger contrast. Robert De Niro takes on a wildly different role as the annoying and embarrassing character Rupert Pupkin, making this film a dark, uncomfortable but fascinating viewing experience.


During his long and prolific career, Martin Scorsese has pioneered many film making techniques as well as genre tropes, visual memes, and other contributions with far reaching influence in the cinema world. His involvement as producer in Revenge of the Green Dragons is yet another chapter in his long and thorough exploration of the diversity and power of cinema.

Category: Articles, Movie & Theatre Reviews

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